Saturday, October 09, 2004

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?* My Running Diary of the Second Presidential Debate

I’m a Wash U alumnus who still lives four blocks from campus in a pathetic attempt to hold on to my college years. The benefit of such a sad existence, and the fact that I still carry my Wash U ID, is that I can still partake in some of the events on or near campus. That includes cheap concerts, $5.50 movies, and the occasional festivities surrounding a presidential debate. I spent a little while hanging out at the live broadcast of MSNBC’s Hardball last night, and tonight I caught a little bit of CNN’s Crossfire. Lessons learned:

1) Chris Matthews’ head is at least a yard in circumference.
2) A group of enthusiastic, politicized students can be made to rhythmically chant ANYTHING in unison (including "Hard-ball! Hard-ball!") as long as the possibility of free t-shirts exists.
3) For some reason, I get genuinely excited about seeing Pat Buchanan and/or Wolf Blitzer in person.

Anyway, there are probably thousands of live blogs that chronicled this evening’s matchup between President Bush and John Kerry. You would think that might make me think twice about adding mine to the deluge. Nope! And now, by popular request…

8:02pm: And we’re live from Wash U’s Field House! We’re only one minute in, and Charlie Gibson is looking incontinent already. He’s probably wondering if the entire audience at home can tell that he’s clenching his butt cheeks. Oh Charlie, we can tell.

8:02pm: Do they get the audience members together before these debates and have some sort of Shirley Jackson-esque lottery to decide who has to wear the American Flag t-shirt? And where do you even purchase something like that?

8:04pm: He’s barely off of his awkwardly tall stool, and already John Kerry has the catch phrase of the night picked out, calling Bush’s campaign a "Weapon of Mass Deception." Be careful you don’t show all your pitches too early, John. We’ve got 86 minutes to go.

8:09pm: Every time the candidates address the questioners by their first names, it reminds me of how creepy it used to be when I worked at Blockbuster in high school and had to wear a name tag. There’s nothing eerier, in my opinion, than someone with whom you have no relationship other than your recommendation of Twelve Monkeys calling you by name.

8:10pm: I think these debates should have one surprise guest, to be chosen and unveiled at the discretion of the moderator. "Well, John and George, we can clear this up right now--let’s bring him out! Saddam Hussein, ladies and gentlemen!"

8:18pm: First really unsettling quote from W this evening—"We didn’t find out they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction ‘til we got there." True, but where does it end? Does that mean he’ll be using Special Forces units to see if there are any Snapples left in the fridge? And what if there aren’t? Who has to die?

8:26pm: John Kerry on Iran’s proliferation program: "Believe me, we will get tough!" Funny, nothing about the way he said that made me "believe" him at all. One thing about W—he’s kind of like that dumb friend you have that drinks too much at parties. You like him, and you know he’s a nice guy, but you never know when he might stab somebody then laugh wildly afterward. There’s a credibility to his intimidation factor that Kerry will never have.

8:27pm: Every time W says "bilateral relations," I giggle a little. Maybe that’s just me.

8:32pm: Oh my god, there it is! Charlie tried to stop W, and the president steamrolled him like a Saddam statue in Baghdad. He may just stab Gibson after all! By the way, I’m a little disappointed in the way Charlie let that go down. If he’s going to "enforce the rules," as he said, he’s may have to lift up his skirt, grab his balls and enforce the rules. That's what moderators do. Man up.

8:34pm: Easily the best veiled double-entendre insult of the night so far: John Kerry declares that the "best weapon against terrorism is intelligence."

8:39pm: W: "When a drug comes in from Canada, I want to make sure it cures ya and doesn’t kill ya!" Did Canada join the Axis of Evil without telling us? Should Michigan be on red alert? Oh wait, now he’s explaining: "It looks like it’s from Canada, it might be from the third world." I didn’t realize that Rwanda held such a large market share in the fake Canadian blood thinner industry.

8:45pm: Two things that are "hard work" according to the President: 1) subduing, conquering and restructuring a dangerous foreign regime, and 2) being named the most liberal Senator by the National Journal.

8:55pm: In the last diary, I chronicled John Kerry’s serious aversion to looking into the camera. Apparently it’s worse than I originally suspected, because tonight he was directly asked by a questioner to look into the camera and make a statement. Then, he said "looking right into the camera…" while looking away. This is a serious malady. Can he be declared unfit for office or incapacitated due to a debilitating inability to look at a camera? Imagine him sitting in the Oval Office, delivering a message to America in a time of war, while looking oddly at nothing in particular. Creepy.

8:57pm: And so it begins. It was only a matter of time. Bush starts his fifteen minutes of classic W rampage. I won't interrupt it with my comments. There's just nothing to say:

8:57pm: "We got battling green eyeshades."

9:01pm: "I proposed the Hydrogen Car."

9:03pm: "We’ll continue to spend good money on research and development cause I truly believe that’s the way to get from how we live today to being able to live a standard of living that we’re accustomed to and being able to protect our environment better, the use of technologies."

9:09pm: "Need some wood?"

9:09pm: Glad that's over. I was just starting to pour the gasoline on my hair.

9:21pm: At least ONE of the candidates (in this case the president) is finally taking a stand on the Dred Scott Decision. I guess W wants to set himself up as the "Anti-Slavery President." Kerry, true to form, remained wishy-washy on the subject.

9:26pm: Is W’s "Culture of Life" kind of like the "Circle of Life?" And how does Elton John figure into all of this? Just between you and me, it sounds like a case of bilateral relations.

9:29pm: Somehow it feels really dirty when the candidates blatantly dodge a question from an audience member. I don’t get that feeling when they’re dealing with the media.

9:31pm: Hey look, the Kerry girls! I hope they didn’t have to rearrange their schedules too much to be here tonight.

Overall, a much better performance from the President tonight, while Kerry remained pretty consistent. I feel like a wuss saying it, but I think we’ll have to call this one a draw. Good entertainment, though. Admittedly, I was skeptical, but now I think I could get used to this Town Hall format-- especially if we could get a town hall full of hot Arizona State chicks next time. I'll make some calls. See you next week.

*Secret message to our favorite NotSoMuch reader. Kitten, you know who you are.

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