Monday, October 04, 2004


Debate debriefing III: Political Footbal

Will somebody please tell me what Bush meant by saying “We have to keep on the offense”?

Implicitly in some of my past posts, and explicitly in some future ones, I question how important debating skills are to the question of who should be elected president. While Bush miserably fails the debating test, he fails much more important ones – for example, his actual record as arguably the worst president in United States history.

But for what it’s worth – both my opinion and the fact itself – Kerry kicked Bush’s ass in the debate. Kerry carried himself with poise, spoke articulately, and appeared to be in command of his facts and to understand the policy issues he was addressing. Bush appeared petulant – the dark underside of his “boyish charm” – was verbally bumbling and often at a loss for what to say, resorting frequently to thin platitudes and slogans, stated almost no facts, and seemed not really to have a clue what he was talking about.

I was disappointed in one aspect of the debate: that neither Kerry nor Jim Lehrer called Bush on his repeated statement that to remain safe from terrorism, American must “keep on the offense.” What in the world does that mean?

On one level, it’s pure Bush: it makes a subconscious appeal to regular guy voters – vote for me, I’m the guy sitting next to you on the couch with the industrial-size bag of Nachos watching Monday night football – while trying to sound like a policy. But what policy?

At best, the policy implication is an inane assertion that we must “keep attacking terrorism, wherever we may find it.” That of course tells us nothing, and raises the question, what’s wrong with defensive measures? At worst, it implies that we must always be fighting a war somewhere – if not Afghanistan, then Iraq, and then perhaps somewhere else. But the so-called war on terrorism is not a football game, in which keeping possession of “the ball” denies “the ball” to the other side. Nor is it even conventional warfare, in which attacking the enemy army arguably, and in some circumstances, preempts the enemy from gathering for its own attack. There is little reason to believe that Al Queda is now absorbed in defending Iraq. Indeed, our presence in Iraq exposes Americans – our troops – who were formerly safe to daily terrorist attack. What’s more, extended warfare – if that is indeed what Bush means by “keeping on the offense” – is costly of American lives, nerves and treasure, thereby in important respects sapping our defensive capability.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]