The Landslide Faction
This year, it's rational to go with the winner.
a) Edwards got peeved when Cheney talked about education in an answer about the economy. How about: "Mr. Edwards, in the 21st century education is essential to the economy, to getting good jobs that pay well. Don't you know that?" Human capital! Take it away Bill Clinton. Edwards' own closing statement talked about his father educating himself in order to make more money.
b) Cheney failed to hammer home the ongoing embarrassment of now-hawkish Kerry's 1991 vote against the Gulf War. It would have been a point worth pausing for: Kerry wouldn't take on Saddam even when he'd invaded a sovereign neighboring nation;
c) If Kerry (according to Edwards) would have waited for the inspections to work, and if as Edwards himself argued the inspections would have showed that Saddam had no WMD, then there would have been no invasion and Saddam would still be in power, working to lift sanctions, etc. Right? Amazingly, Cheney didn't point this out. ...
5)Edwards' weakest moment: He seemed to want experienced-world-leader points just because he was in Israel a few hours before a suicide bomb attack (plus he knew the brand name of the restaurant that was attacked); 6) Never mind Bremer--Cheney still didn't have an answer on Tora Bora! How about: "We tried to work with local forces instead of going it alone like an occupying power. We didn't know that mountainous border area well. They did. In retrospect, it was a mistake. We make mistakes all the time; it always happens in a war. We try to learn from them." I suspect Cheney would have won hands down if he'd have candidly admitted to some screw-ups. That's how real CEOs talk. It's OK to be a grouch if you're a straight-talking grouch. ... More Trump, less Grump! ...
Biggest Softball Question That Only Confirmed Suspicions of PBS Bias: Gwen Ifill's question to Edwards:
Flip-flopping has become a recurring theme in this campaign, you may have noticed.
Senator Kerry changed his mind about whether to vote to authorize the president to go to war. President Bush changed his mind about whether a homeland security department was a good idea or a 9/11 Commission was a good idea.
What's wrong with a little flip-flop every now and then?
"Arent those charges against you bogus? I hear you have some bullet points you'd like to recite." OK, she didn't say that last part. She didn't need to.
Update: Will Saletan is living in a dream world! I'm with "Publius." ... 8:58 P.M.
Desperate Housewives: Mark Penn makes the badly-needed point that there are too plenty of swing voters, but he thinks the way to get them is to pivot to domestic issues in an appeal to "modern moms." I tend to be pro-swing, anti-pivot, mainly for the reason given below by Noam Scheiber. And if Kerry beats Bush on national security it's all over, no? Plus, I fear Kerry will be most ... er, Kerryesque talking about domestic concerns, where his tendency to pander will be maximized (given his historically insecure relationship with the Democratic base--especially African Americans). Penn says voters want "ideas," but Kerry doesn't dare bring up his ballsiest "ideas," like means-testing Social Security or questioning affirmative action and teacher tenure. ... P.S.: Penn accidentally stabs his own "pivot" argument to death in paragraph #9, declaring
We might all learn a lesson from Bill Clinton in 1992. He won by making the Persian Gulf War irrelevant to the election.
Right. The Gulf War was long over by the 1992 election. Iraq isn't. The larger fight against terrror isn't. Kerry isn't going to 'make them irrelevant.' ... Update: Dan Straight argues, contra Penn, that what appears to be the "swing" vote is mainly energized Democrats in electorally-undecisive pro-Kerry coastal states:
It's not (so much) the people in the middle who are switching between Kerry and Bush (pace Mark Penn) - it's the people on the far left switching between Kerry and none of the above.
Photograph of Howard Dean on the Slate home page by Jim Bourg/Reuters.