Saturday, October 09, 2004

Presidential showdown

Last night, the American people had the opportunity to spend their Friday night listening to the second presidential debate of the campaign season. I watched this debate on tape because I was busy listening to Toby Keith declare the greatness of America to the screaming fans at the Roanoke Civic Center.

Friday's debate was a townhall style event. The audience was made up entirely of people whom the Gallup folks identified as undecided voters. Then each of those people wrote one question for the President and one for Senator Kerry. The moderator, Charles Gibson, then selected which questions would be used. The people who wrote the questions got to readtheir questions directly to the candidate.

I was expecting the questions to be of extremely poor quality. After all, if a person is still undecided at this point, how informed or engaged could they possibly be? However, I was pleasantly surprised. The questions were probative and were not slanted towards either candidate. Mr. Gibson clearly did a good job at weeding through all the proposed questions.

It seemed to me that both candidates performed well. Bush was pretty intense and seemed comfortable in the more informal setting of the town hall style event. Kerry seemed more relaxed than I've seen him in the past, as well.

The international parts of the discussion were exactly the same as they were in the past debates. Kerry continues to be the internationalist. The President continued to preach the importance of spreading liberty throughtout hostile parts of the world. This was the first debate to contain a domestic portion. The highlight of the economic discussion was when Kerry unequivocally pledged that he would not increase taxes for people who make less than $200,000 a year. Then the candidates took their usual positions on social issues. Bush was unabashedly prolife and questioned why Kerry voted against the partial birth abortion ban. Kerry had this to say about his view on abortion, "I can't take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for other people who do not share that article of faith." For those of you who are wondering what exactly that means, I'll translate. John Kerry does believe that unborn babies are human beings but that belief is not strong enough to allow him to step out of the arms of NOW and the ACLU.