Monday, October 04, 2004


True North - Selected Debate Highlights

tightly wrapped
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

Yes, it's hard. It's not soft, but hard. A president must be forever tumescent, must not DIS-EN-GORGE. That would send mixed messages, the wrong signal. Not to mention the wrong message and mixed signals. Our vital, precious bodily fluids are at stake. It's hard work to stay 'up'. But a president can't wilt.

Before we dive into the comedy, one quick note about Kerry's 'global test' statement of which the constitutionally desperate Bush campaign is trying to make so much. It was clearly the wrong thing to say, politically; the Kerry campaign, too, was making the RNC spot in their heads 30 seconds after Kerry said it. But it's obvious what Kerry meant: 'global test' as in comprehensive test, not 'global' as in 'the world'.

Anyhow... naturally, the debate is much funnier to watch than read, but there's a certain charm in seeing the words of our dear leader ('dear-leader-lite') frozen on the page. Let the strength and firmness begin:

[The following statement is not a cut and paste error, nor has anything been yanked out of context. This is a contiguous Bush statement]

I know how these people think. I deal with them all the time. I sit down with the world leaders frequently and talk to them on the phone frequently. They're not going to follow somebody who says, "This is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time."

I know how these people think. I deal with them all the time. I sit down with the world leaders frequently and talk to them on the phone frequently.

They're not going to follow somebody who says this is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time. They're not going to follow somebody whose core convictions keep changing because of politics in America.

What tha? Bush is doing a remix of himself here! It's phat (and firm). And, of course, since the US government is alienated from much of the rest of the world, you wonder what he means by 'I know how these people think'. Oh well, they are foreigners, so it's good to have a president who knows how 'these people' think. He seems like a worldly guy. And he can call 'em on the phone!

And I'm optimistic. See, I think you can be realistic and optimistic at the same time. I'm optimistic we'll achieve -- I know we won't achieve if we send mixed signals. I know we're not going to achieve our objective if we send mixed signals to our troops, our friends, the Iraqi citizens.

You can 'be optimistic and realistic at the same time'. Yes you CAN be, but that's not to say you MUST be in any given situation. Also, we see here indication of a pattern. Note how he says, 'I'm optimistic we'll achieve - I know we won't achieve..' (hey! are we being optimistic or not?!). For all their posturing about strength and resolve and pro-action, Bush/Cheney '04 is itself sending a strangely negative, passive..well, mixed message: you, the voter, CAN'T vote for Kerry, because then the bad guys will get us! Our country is so vulnerable, our situation is so delicate and precarious that even saying the wrong thing - even thinking it - will cause us to be hit again. Yeeeesss, it's nice and sleek and rigidly, bulbously firm now, but, ai ai ai! don't touch it! DON'T TOUCH IT! DON'T TOUCH IT!........[Sigh]...oKAY, then. We don't want to have an 'accident' and lose our firmness, do we?

The thot plickens:

My opponent just said something amazing. He said Osama bin Laden uses the invasion of Iraq as an excuse to spread hatred for America. Osama bin Laden isn't going to determine how we defend ourselves.

Osama bin Laden doesn't get to decide. The American people decide.

I decided the right action was in Iraq. My opponent calls it a mistake. It wasn't a mistake.

[then, later]

Again, I can't tell you how big a mistake I think that is, to have bilateral talks with North Korea. It's precisely what Kim Jong Il wants.

Ah. We wouldn't want to do 'precisely what Kim Jong Il wants', would we? Clearly, US policy, then, should be 'precisely' the opposite of what Kim wants. In other words, it should be in diametric reaction to Kim. Sounds pretty 'proactive' to me, George. And of course, it's worked great so far.

As to the 'OBL doesn't get to decide' part, Of course it's logically incoherent, but this is still a powerful component of Bush's schtick - that America stays one step ahead of the terrorists by being aggressive. But at the same time, it's a fatally weak spot for him. If OBL or Kim Jong Il or anybody else is trying to 'psyche us out' ('It's precisely what Kim Jong Il wants'), you have to be one step ahead of them in THAT department, too, rather than simply talking/acting tough or refusing to talk. To be unaware that a mishandled invasion of Iraq could possibly abet al-Queda - to be generally unaware of the obvious dynamics in play in this war on militant Islamism - is to surrender much (to put it mildly) to the enemy. Ya see, Jim, I believe you can be not-a-fucking-dipshit and strong at the same time!.

And on it goes:

You know, I think about Missy Johnson. She's a fantastic lady I met in Charlotte, North Carolina. She and her son Bryan, they came to see me. Her husband PJ got killed. He'd been in Afghanistan, went to Iraq.

You know, it's hard work to try to love her as best as I can, knowing full well that the decision I made caused her loved one to be in harm's way.

No, it caused her loved one (her husband, and the father of Bryan) to be killed, not in 'harm's way'.

I told her after we prayed and teared up and laughed some that I thought her husband's sacrifice was noble and worthy. Because I understand the stakes of this war on terror. I understand that we must find Al Qaida wherever they hide.

We laughed! We cried! (well, I only 'teared up' 'cause I'm a strong leader). What a guy I am! See how I am? I gave..what's her name? Missy Johnson..some of my precious time. I'm compassionate yet strong.

KERRY: It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong. ..........

LEHRER: Thirty seconds.

BUSH: Well, I think -- listen, I fully agree that one should shift tactics, and we will, in Iraq.

We will? Wow, THAT's good to know. Don't let the world know, though. Bad signal. Bad message, if you will. Oh, and Novak? That's just a newspaper article. There are a lotta news articles, Jim.

Our commanders have got all the flexibility to do what is necessary to succeed.

..other than having enough troops to establish security practically anywhere in Iraq or even to do basic border monitoring. Gotcha. Good to know they have flexibility. Good to hear you're not one a' them 'micro-managers', except for Fallujah.

But what I won't do is change my core values because of politics or because of pressure.

Can anybody figure out what those 'core values' actually are? Looking at his total record, I can't for the life of me do it. What I get is, roughly: 'Freedom is good. Jesus is good. Firm. On the offensive. Trust me'. I hate like damn to bring him into the discussion, but...Slim Pickens.

And it is one of the things I've learned in the White House, is that there's enormous pressure on the president, and he cannot wilt under that pressure. Otherwise, the world won't be better off.

Wait a minute! mean you're the President?! By god you ARE the president! Great to hear what you've learned while you've been away, being president. Thanks for checkin' in with us. Must be a lot of pressure in that job, eh? Important to keep your pecker up in that kind of environment, huh? Yeeeah, boy.

I've got a good relation with Vladimir. And it's important that we do have a good relation, because that enables me to better comment to him, and to better to discuss with him, some of the decisions he makes. I found that, in this world, that it's important to establish good personal relationships with people so that when you have disagreements, you're able to disagree in a way that is effective.

Who decides? Vladimir and Ariel, or America?! er.... Of course Bush is right about Russia. Even (or especially) a bully knows that you don't fuck with somebody big. Too scary. Unpredictable.

[from Bush's closing statement]

The next four years we will continue to strengthen our homeland defenses. We will strengthen our intelligence-gathering services. We will reform our military. The military will be an all-volunteer army.

Oh, you mean there will be no draft? There's something creepy about a leader answering a question before it has quite been asked. So, that could be an actual lie (as opposed to simply over-promising).

We've done a lot of hard work together over the last three and a half years. We've been challenged, and we've risen to those challenges. We've climbed the mighty mountain. I see the valley below, and it's a valley of peace.

My Rod and my Staff shall comfort thee. The ol' tallywacker points straight, due, true north. Never fails.

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