The Victor: Maurice Chevalier


So halfway through the debate, my wife asks me, "Who do you think is winning?"

"I don't know," I say. "They're both so full of shit."

It didn't help that I had skipped the first half hour completely. TCM was showing Maurice Chevalier in Love Me Tonight, and if that doesn't trump a vice-presidential debate, what does? But at 9:30 I switched over and reluctantly settled in for the show. It wasn't a completely empty experience: I appreciated the fact that the two men obviously despise each other, and I admired their willingness to brazenly ignore any question they'd rather not answer. But mostly I missed Admiral Stockdale.

Who won? It's close, but I guess I have to give it to Cheney. Neither of these guys was impressive, but Edwards' empty suit was showing.

NEXT: Rodney Dangerfield, R.I.P.

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  1. Huh? Red Sox win, Evil Empire loses…
    Save myself the trouble, vote badnarik, etc…

  2. I’m sad to say I thought Cheney was the clear winner. I had expected better from Edwards; I thought he was a smirking, evasive twit. Given what Cheney had to work with from the past four years, I thought he was surprisingly less than vomitous.
    What a choice.

  3. I only caught 10 minutes of it on the radio in the car.

    I heard the part where Edwards, in reply to a criticism of his unimpressive legislative record, pointed out that Cheney, while in the House, voted against the Dept. of Education, meals on wheels, and a whole bunch of other things…

    Which made me think for a moment that maybe Cheney’s not such a bad guy after all.

    A few minutes later, Cheney was bragging about No Child Left Behind and the prescription drug benefit, and Edwards actually used the phrase “fiscal responsibility” in a sentence.

    Someone please remind me again…which one is the evil party and which one is the stupid party?

  4. “Red Sox win, Evil Empire loses…”

    That’s true; at least today went very well baseball-wise. And I hope I’ll be attending a Cardinals World Series victory parade soon….

  5. Cheney is clearly the most powerful VP in US history. The dynamics of the Executive will never be the same.

  6. This debate made it clear who’s president.

  7. Madame DeFarge: We are so poor, we don’t even have a language! Just a stupid accent!
    Fellow Revolutionist: She’s right! We all talk like Maurice Chevalier! [laughs] Au-haw-haw.
    Crowd: Au-haw-haw.

  8. Edwards’ biggest mistake was humanizing Dr. Strangelove/Darth Vader by apparently genuinely discussing Cheney’s daughter (who’s gay, by the way). After that, the level of froth coming out of Cheney’s mouth decreased dramatically.

    I’m going to give this a slight edge to Edwards. America will remember the disputed facts regarding Iraq casualties, Halliburton, etc. etc.

    Also, I get the feeling that Cheney will scare a lot of red staters out there in Americaland. They want someone who’s strong, but they don’t want someone who looks like he’s on the edge of amorality.

    Also, here’s a question. Does Cheney saying that he’d do the “same course of action” regarding Iraq mean that he would send too few troops the second time?

    Does that mean the second time he’d leave the spy headquarters unguarded? (“Press and looters vie for Saddam’s secrets”)

    The second time, would it take days to shut down the propaganda from Iraqi TV?

    Does that mean that the second time around he’d let people walk off with 1/5 of the nuclear material from al Tuwaitha?

  9. “They’re both so full of shit.”

    Well said Jesse. That’s why I just watched the game instead. Although listening to Buck and McCarver call a game is only marginally better than hearing Cheney and Edwards drone on for over an hour.

  10. CBS’ poll gives it to Edwards 42-29. ABC’s poll has it a tie – that is, people are divided pretty much based on political affiliation. Just about every online poll is for Edwards by a wide margin, but that is to be expected. Some of the punditocracy, most notably at MSNBC are giving it to Cheney, while other panels say it was a tie.

    All in all, people who don’t know anything about anything will like Edwards better because he just seems much nicer than Snarlin’ Dick Cheney. Conservatives will prefer Cheney and liberals Edwards. Since Edwards has more to gain, I think KE’04 comes out slightly ahead on this round.

    It wasn’t the blow-out that Bush-Kerry #1 was, but BC’04 have got to be worried that they’ve had two of their best opportunities to get a win and haven’t managed to do it. Bush now needs to perform above all expectations on Friday.

  11. Jeez, LOVE ME TONIGHT was on?!? I wish I’d known that three hours ago…

  12. Cheney clearly knocked out Edwards. Cheney at the very least has a mostly consistent political philosophy. Some may say amoral, but some would say simply pragmatic. I at least want a couple of pragmatists to balance out all the theocrats that are spooking Bush these days. Edwards is part fluttering doe part smarmy trial lawyer who never met a emotional argument or an exaggerated metaphor he didn’t like

  13. Jesse Walker:

    They’re both so full of shit.

    Jesse Walker for president!

  14. I did not watch all of it (putting kids to bed). But to say one clearly knocked the other out is a bit far-fetched. They seemed to be very evenly matched. I was actually impressed by both of their performances.

  15. Lonewacko,

    The first chapter of the first textbook they read in Politician 101 must be titled, “Never Admit A Mistake.”

  16. Cheney did a slightly better job objectively selling a worse bill of goods. Cheney was more consistent and forceful on defense but phoned it in on domestic issues. Edwards wasn’t all that convincing on a few defense issues, repeated talking points at others, but had a couple of good hits on health and economic issues and was more agreeable style wise.

    In other words, both played to the strengths they had going in. No surprises.

    The biggest optics problem for Bush is that many are probably concluding that Kerry, Cheney or Edwards would make a better president right now. Even Edwards in his occasional vacuous moments was a hell of a lot more convincing than Bush.

  17. ok.. cheney definitely came off less snarky and more dad like. I’ll tell you what gets me about edwards is his wife. Call me a chauvinist, but that family just rubs me the wrong way. That is to say if I was voting for either one. Not to worry, Badnarik here I come.

    When it comes to wives, the BC 04 team definitely has a classier set.

  18. To me the phrase “Stay the course” means to sit quietly and not ask questions.

    Well, I can’t do that. I ask questions and the president and his team don’t like that. It makes me suspicious and thus tending to trust them less.

    In fact, our should leaders should be asking many more questions. The arrogance of setting policy only through the lens of ideology means that they don’t listen to other points of view.

    Edwards clearly debated better, actually answering most of the questions posed to him.

  19. iconoclast writes:
    When it comes to wives, the BC 04 team definitely has a classier set.

    It depends on what one considers classy. Mrs Cheney and Mrs Bush have that Crawford Wife thing going, whereas Elizabeth and The Big T exhibit a personality.

  20. Fodderstompf, you’re a bozo. Lynne Cheney could’ve taken on Edwards at least as well as her old man did.

  21. Besides, Mrs. Bush’s general virtue of being seldom seen is a godsend after some of the First Medusas we’ve seen in past decades, from both sides of the aisle.

  22. How ’bout both those schmucks answers on African American women and AIDS??

    Jeeeeeesus H. Christ. Black women die at a rate 13x the mean in the U.S. and AIDS is the leading killer among young blacks, and BOTH OF THESE YUTZES talk about how great they’re doing giving AIDS donations to Africa (with Edwards chiming in – I think his answer was, “This is an important topic, Gwen, one I’ve been thinking a lot about since the AIDS epidemic began. My answer is this: F*** you and your black American women friends, Gwen – there’s $15 billion worth of dying women in Africa that need our help, and while domestic AIDS funding does not quite reach the bar, spending it in Africa sure will meet the essential global test!”).

  23. “Lynne Cheney could’ve taken on Edwards at least as well as her old man did.”

    I’ve gotta agree with Fletch here. I saw a Lynne Chency speech recently, and that fascist harpy is one smooth operator. I don’t know why she isn’t a heavyweight in the party.

    Well, ok, I know why SHE isn’t a heavyweight in THAT party, but you know what I mean.

  24. Cheney’s best moment was when he claimed he never met Edwards before. Now….it turns out that he has not only met him, but in more than a casual way. Since this all was well-rehearsed, it calls into question Cheney’s much-touted command of the facts. If he got this wrong (and didn’t even bother to verify it with his well-paid handlers), what other mistakes did he make?

  25. Edwards lost with his response on Afghanistan (how could anyone have scored him well after that?), his repeated insistence on addressing Cheney directly, his incessant parroting of Kerry sales pitches, and his contirbution to the campaign’s continuing inability to articulate a tenable, politically viable position on Iraq.

    Oh and the moderator sucked too.

  26. “Cheney is clearly the most powerful VP in US history. The dynamics of the Executive will never be the same.”

    At least until a president is elected who can count to 21 without taking off his pants.

    And thanks for the Stockdale ref, Jesse. For months after that debate, I was calling him Admiral Alzheimers. There was a great cartoon afterward, by Oliphant I think, that showed Quayle and Gore shouting at each other over Stockdale’s head. Stockdale hunched over his podium, muttering “where’s the ejection button on this thing?”

  27. Jesse has a wife?

  28. Douglas Fletcher writes:
    Lynne Cheney could’ve taken on Edwards at least as well as her old man did.

    I suppose she could have scraped to a tie, too. It’s hard to get totally blown out under those rules, unless you happen to be George W Bush. But she would have done it in a cold, impersonal, mechanistic way. Besides, there would have been the risk that Edwards or Ifill would have hit her with a paradox, thus triggering her shutdown mechanism.

    And before anyone brings up the obvious factoid about her: yes, she was obviously replaced *after* she penned that lesbian romance novel.

  29. “actually answering most of the questions posed to him.”

    I don’t get why people get hung up on this. This is a chance for these guys to get their points across, and it would be stupid for them to allow themselves to be limited by a single reporter’s questions. Really though, all four of these guys have been much better than Gore and Bush in 2000 about it. Maybe the questions are just closer to what they want to talk about this time around.

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