Friday, October 08, 2004

The Second Debate

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted. I apologize for disappointing my reader(s).

I just got done watching the second presidential debate. I figured I'd post some of my inconsequential thoughts here.

First, and least important, thought: I don't know if it's comforting or scary to have a president who's mad as hell. I'm thinking the latter. At least Kerry takes Bush's attacks in stride as part of the political process. Bush seemed to take it personally any time Kerry launched any sort of attack. Actually, come to think of it, this may not be as unimportant as I thought it was. You learn a lot about how Bush and Kerry handle things by seeing how they responded to each other. Bush has been notorious for "shooting from the hip," making judgments based on emotion. You saw that tonight, for example, when he ran over Charlie Gibson asking a follow-up question. Kerry, conversely, took it in and analyzed it, demonstrating his analytical approach to decision making.

My main thought follows.

All through this presidential campaign (and 2000, for that matter), there has been some sort of odd premium placed on simplicity. Kerry is derided for failing to convey it, and Bush is praised for utilizing it. Kerry, in turn, is praised for keeping his answers simple in the first debate.

And there is a virtue to simplicity. Simplicity breeds clarity, and clarity breeds understanding. Understanding is important to voters - if they don't feel like they understand the issues, they will make uninformed decisions or not vote altogether. However, tonight we saw simplicity taken over the top.

I would like to draw your attention to one point in particular that bothered me greatly. When asked about his policy towards government support for abortion, Kerry gave a very lucid, extremely clear answer. He said that he possesses a certain moral belief about the subject, but that it would be wrong for him, as president, to legislate that moral belief. He spoke clearly of ways that government can encourage morality without legislating it.

And what was Bush's response? "Boy, I'm having trouble deciphering that."

I, unlike most liberals, do not believe that Bush possesses a below-average intellect. So there is no doubt in my mind he, and everyone else in that room and watching on TV, understood what Kerry said and what he meant. We cannot take that statement at face value.

This statement constitutes the point where simplicity finally goes over the top. For it is obvious to even the most casual observer that the complex issue of abortion cannot be decided by a yes or no answer. Neither can any other issue, for that matter. Bush, I am certain, understands that. But he doesn't think you do, and he doesn't want you to either.

Notice the tenor of this entire debate. Bush desires that America refuse to see the world in anything but black and white. You're with us or you're against us. You supported my war in Iraq or you didn't. You voted yes or no on one bill (despite the fact that numerous votes occur on one bill). And he believes that complexity is beyond our grasp.

How ridiculous. How degrading. And how unbecoming of a leader who purports to have the wisdom to lead us through difficult times.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I feel inclined to quote my dear friend Aaron on George W. Bush: "I love Bush. It's like loving a big dumbass dog. Dumb as a rock, will pick a fight with anything including a rock, and can't speak." I also don't believe Bush has a below-average intellect, but it's a funny thought nonetheless.