The Counterpoint

October 16, 2004

Weekend Symposium

Hugh Hewitt is wondering how much damage the lesbian remark will do/has done to John Kerry's presidential aspirations. I've read a decent number of blogs, and Hewitt is maybe the most upset over the comment of any blogger I have read.

To be completely honest, I doubt this will have much effect on Kerry's run for the presidency. I believe this because of two reasons:

1. Kerry was already in a hole. The first debate helped him regain some status in the polls, sure, but that's only because of the president's poor performance. Once Bush came to play, Kerry proved to be no match. Let's face it: Kerry is a terrible candidate. He is doing just well enough to stay in the race, and he has the added bonus of running against a candidate loathed by the mass media and a good chunk of the population. A good percentage of the population will still vote for him because he isn't Bush, but I think his mistakes have soured a lot of voters.

2. I think the "global test" is going to do more damage to his campaign than anything. I am not sure that the average voter will interpret the Mary Cheney remark as a cheap political attack. I think they will, however, pick up on the fact that Kerry and Bush have the same position on gay marriage. This "global test" is a different beast altogether. I think that the average voter will be sickened by the very idea that Kerry would rather have the UN or other countries half a world away (who, by the way, generally aren't targeted as severely as America is) decide our fates for us. Given their abysmal track record, the fact that it's the UN he wishes the approval of is upsetting enough; if only more people understood how spineless and hypocritical that group is, maybe they would think twice about suggesting they decide our fate in the war on terror.

I am more upset about what Ms. Cahill and Ms. Edwards said, but only because I would (foolishly) expect more out of them. Maybe they were just trying to save their candidate's tail, but that is no excuse for their actions. Sadly, I am unsurprised that Kerry would pull such a trick. (I guess people have forgotten his actions the week of the republican convention.) He seems to lack any sense of decorum or tact. It may be a harsh thing to say, but I have my doubts that there is any level of attack that is below him.

Regardless of what people think about Kerry's comment, I doubt there is a lot of disagreement that Kerry is in some trouble.

October 15, 2004

Concert review; The "lesbian" fiasco

Went to the LostProphets show tonight down at the Quest Club. They were much, much better than the last time I saw them, which was when they opened Ozzfest at 11:00 AM a couple years ago. Back then there where maybe four people at the event actually knew who they were. In fact, I remember people asking me the name of the band even after they introduced themselves.

This time, however, things were much different. The floor and the balcony of the club were both packed, but somehow I managed to squeeze my way into the center of the floor. Definitely a smart move, as this was one of the more high-impact, energetic shows I have been to in a long, long time. Brutal and satisfying in every way. I love concerts.

Oh yeah: My Chemical Romance sucks.

After the show, there was a spontaneous trip south to Mystic Lake. Very tough night for this gambler; played nickel and quarter slots (I am very much looking forward to being 21, if only so I can go play poker. Slots get dull after awhile, and blackjack isn't really my game) with absolutely no success. Usually I can manage to break even or come out ahead, but this was a disaster from the start. I ended up losing $40 quite fast. Krystle was the same way. Allan spent $30 to win $33.

I still love gambling. I should gamble on football games more, given my solid picks record this year (50-24), which is currently good enough for first place in our pick'em group.

Final, unrelated note. For those who think Kerry won the debate, I have one question: How come the only thing we are talking about is the lesbian comment? Typically the loser of each debate gets assaulted on one or two of their large mistakes, but Bush is getting nearly a free pass from the same media of which he has been victim of mythically savage attacks. Hmm...

Glenn Reynolds has a massive recap of the quote and potential ramifications.

October 13, 2004

Thoughts on the final debate

I attended the 19th annual Silha Lecture tonight, featuring Geneva Overholser speaking on "Finding a Credo for Today's Journalist." My girlfriend incessantly ripped me for using my free time to attend a lecture (apparently it is too geeky), but I went anyway. :). The speaker was an interesting woman with quite a professional background, but her method was slightly dull. Granted that my vision is not the greatest, but from where I sat she seemed to read most of her speech directly off paper.

The ideas that she conveyed were essentially what you would expect from a professional journalist: strive for objectivity and always be honest. She, of course, related this to new media developments such as talk radio and the blogosphere. One concept she mentioned was the idea of greater checks and less humor; for example she said that when she was the editor of the Des Moines Register, they would have running jokes citing sources that didn't exist, and talk about how many times they could get the name mentioned in their articles. With no manner of checks, they were able to get away with this. With the advent of the blogosphere this is no longer a possibility. Even the most minute fact is now subject to review. In fairness, she did repeatedly say she welcomed the advancement of the blogosphere as a new era in journalism.


We stayed down at the Coffman theater (meaning I watched it in an auditorium packed with democrats and liberals) to view the debate, which they had projected on to a large video screen on stage. I foolishly didn't bring a notepad, so I had to scribble some thoughts down on the front and back of the program. The debate was, in my view, exactly the opposite of what media polls are showing (although media polls are essentially meaningless). I thought Bush won a decisive victory tonight.

True that Kerry had better command of the numbers, but I don't believe that the American people just want to hear endless strings of numbers rattled off at them. There has to be some type of passion and connection with the population that I think Bush is a master of. Pay careful attention to some of the answers tonight, if you taped (or just watch a re-run) of the debate. Notice how Bush was much more passionate and emotional with his answers, and seemed to generally care about the average citizen? Kerry seemed almost too rehearsed. He was definitely more prepared than Bush, but he may have prepared so much that his answers became tedious. There didn't seem to be any feeling with the responses Kerry gave.

Other thoughts that I jotted down:

  • I thought it was smart of Kerry to keep mentioning republicans, until Bush FINALLY reminded everybody that people like McCain are supporting his candidacy, and not Kerry's.
  • Did you notice that Bush was always smiling? Kerry rarely smiled. Maybe that tells you something about their personality, maybe not. I also like that Bush brought back more of his natural humor and sarcasm, which is a definite positive. It makes him seem more like a regular guy, more average -- I think people love that the president can make fun of himself. Everybody has to be able to poke fun at their past mis-steps (i.e. "Bushisms"/language mistakes) and have a good time, and Bush displayed that he can do that. Kerry seemed too stiff and too serious. In the interest of fairness, Kerry did have the best self-deprecating joke of the night when he said, "The three of us have all certainly married up, and some would say me more so than others." The entire auditorium cracked up at that point.
  • When the question of homosexuality was brought up, Kerry reminded people that Dick Cheney's daughter is a lesbian. If Kerry had a different position than Bush, then this may have been a smart play. But his position is essentially the same (against gay-marriage), and since Cheney's daughter is obviously in favor of Bush, then his answer doesn't do much to draw the homosexual vote. Some pundits think it is a low blow, but I am not sure if there *are* any low-blows in this race. It seems like everything is fair game.
  • I don't understand how Kerry can say Allan Greenspan has done a tremendous job on the economy and monetary policy, and that he supports Bush's tax cuts, and then tell the voters that he disagrees with him. If the Monetary Genius Greenspan supports the tax cuts, then maybe they aren't so bad? Why would Kerry disagree with them? Not that this question is important, but it still makes me think.
  • The final question of the night was about the strong women in the lives of the two candidates. Bush didn't mention his mother. I'd say that is a minor mistake that will probably go unnoticed (you always thank your mother, right?), but Kerry scarcely mentioned his wife, instead focusing on his mother. It seems that the wife would be especially important to him, but I guess not. The most interesting part was when he said that his mother had to repeatedly say, "integrity, integrity, integrity" to him on her deathbed. I'm sure that I am not the only one thinking this, but shouldn't that go without saying if you are going to run for president? Shouldn't that be the way he was raised?
  • I may be in the minority with this one, but I think Bob Shieffer did a very good job as moderator. The questions were by far the most fair and objective of the debate sequence, and also contained a much higher number of biased questions toward Kerry than the previous three debates. Not that this is a great thing, because I would like to see NO biased questions. But if you watched the first two debates then you know that Kerry was mostly given softballs. Bush got some tough questions this time too, but Kerry got his share as well. It was nice to see them even-up in this sense.

    Final thought: I've watched the debate twice now, and with each question and answer I can't help but lean closer and closer to one conclusion:

    George Bush just won the election.

    Too early to call it that way? Maybe, but that is the overwhelming feeling I am getting right now.

    Update: I am obviously not the only one who saw it as a big victory for the President. Hugh Hewitt and The Hindrocket @ Powerline weigh in.

  • The race in Minnesota; Teen Executions


  • The Star-Tribune says that the race in Minnesota is about even. We've become an increasingly centrist state, and the Bush campaign has been targeting us as a possible toss-up. But, in all honesty, I would be surprised if Bush won the state. Minnesota hasn't voted republican since Nixon carried the state in 1972. Maybe we've become more of a battleground state in recent elections, but what leads one to believe that anything has *really* changed? Especially in these days where Bush is so loathed by the media and roughly half of the general public? When Minnesota begins voting republican again it will likely be for another landslide winner (like Nixon). Right now I would say (if pressed) that Kerry will take Minnesota by a couple of percentage points (but probably not by the five percent margin the Star-Tribune poll shows).

  • Supreme Court to debate executions of teens. I am not going to weigh in on this yet; maybe sometime tonight. For now, just read the article and think about this: if the government can decide that at 18 you can die for your country (assuming (a) there is a draft or (b) you volunteer for service), then shouldn't that same government be allowed to execute you for taking the life of someone else (assuming (a) the crime is particularly heinous and (b) not in self-defense)? Am I wrong about that? If you think so, use the comments section to tell me why.


    Tonight: Possibly going to a lecture on journalistic ethics. The debate and the MLB Playoffs are both on as well. I might be back to comment on those. If not, have a good night.