Oct 9, 2004

"That's what liberals do."

At the beginning of tonight's debate, I was going to ask you to explain to me the infinitely inflated value of the so-called undecided voter. Why do we care so much what these people think? In my estimation, someone who hasn't made up his or her mind at this point is more lazy than discerning. And while the outcome of the election may depend on how these twats sort it out, I don't necessarily think that their impressions of things should be counted as more weighty than mine. Yes, I'm going to vote for John Kerry. But why does that make me dismissable?

Well, Josh and I went to Cinespace to watch the debates tonight, and I have to say there are few better ways to do this. We got there nice and early, had a few cocktails and a little bit of food and got a nice table in the big screening room. And we got to take the whole shebang in in the company of our liberal compatriots, so that means everyone clapped in the same places and laughed in the same places and groaned in the same places. Which is not what would have happened if I had watched this with my family. I watched the first round of debates at Cinespace last week, but I was craning my neck to see the screen in the smoking lounge. This time, my view was unobstructed. As was my access to alcohol and french fries. But this was all new to Josh, and I'm happy that it went over so well. I was convinced that this namby-pamby "town hall" style of debate would give Bush far too much of an opportunity to use his supposedly vast folksy charm. But I was shocked to see Bush not just lose his composure but really never have it to begin with. From his very first leaving of his seat, he scolded his audience with a shockingly belligerent style. His posture on the floor was a sort of chicken dance, confusing emphasis with impatience. He seemed to be saying, "Don't you rubes get it?" with every argumentative sentence he uttered. He seemed angry. Defensive. Those chicken feathers were clearly ruffled. And I can't imagine his handlers did anything but shake their heads while watching. This was not the display that they intended. I'm sure of it.

I hated that Kerry had to keep insisting that he has been consistent. I realize it's one of the noticeable chinks in his armor, but I really wish a lot of this work had been done before tonight. But it's easy to forget about that when Bush is comparing the anti-American sentiment extant in the world today to the attitude of the Reagan era. "People love America," Bush said. But I don't know what he meant by that. He spent so much of the past three years telling us how much so many people hate us and all of our delicious freedom.

I also noticed that Bush seemed to want to remind us continually that he has actually been in the White House and the Oval Office. He kept beginning responses with phrases like, "I remember sitting in the Oval Office," or, "I remember sitting in the White House," or," I remember going to the basement of the White House," as if to say, "Hey, did you guys know the White House has a basement? I do. Because _I'm_ the President. I have been all over the White House. Have you? No. You're not as important as I am. Don't you get that?" And whenever Kerry was speaking, the cutaways to Bush's face seemed to be saying, "Come on, dude. Don't tell them THAT."

I kept hearing Bush reiterate phrases which had been obviously drilled into him beforehand. I know the speech writers come up with things for every candidate to say, but with Bush it sounds more like he's tagging up. He never seems to wield these phrases effectively. And of course he said something about rumors on the INTERNETS, and that got a big laugh from the audience in the room. And he also said something about the war (or something) being more FACILE, and I'm positive that's not the word he meant to use.

And when John Kerry delivered zinging retorts -- like when he said that, if Missouri was a country, it would be the third largest country in the "Coalition of the Willing" -- George Bush really seemed to be blinking a lot.

And when George Bush announced that it was going to be "a long, long war," I could almost see the foreshadowing of the run-up to the Constitutional amendment proposal wherein Bush gets to be president forever. Yikes. "Liberty can change habits," he said. But what the fuck does that mean? That sank in with about as much resonance as the answer he gave when that very direct man asked him about why he won't let us buy drugs from Canada and he said because he wants to make sure the drugs we take are safe. I applaud John Kerry for never once saying, "Yeah, right."

And then that creepy wink. Why was George W. Bush winking at people after not answering their pointed questions? I can't imagine they were winking back. When the CNN camera pulled in on the face of the woman who asked Bush to name three mistakes he had made while in office and he basically refused to, she did not look like she would want to be winked at. Any winking happening on that stony visage was going to be the result of an involuntary facial tick. "I went to Washington to fix problems," he said. I have no response to that.

I also noticed that Bush had apparently been counseled by his people not to call Kerry by name. He nearly always used pronouns or the term "my opponent." With the exception of the time he called him Senator Kennedy. And what was that about? That preceded his announcement, "That's what liberals do." I was surprised by that. Because although this was an audience of supposed undecideds, the questions seemed to have a decidedly liberal slant to them. Not the chick who doesn't want her tax dollars to pay for abortions and not the other chick who doesn't want embryonic stem cell research to happen. But pretty much everyone else. I was skeptical at first. But I love those Missourans. This "undecided" audience may just as well have been a bunch of Nader-lovers. Speaking of which, when the environmental question took to the air, I laughed when Bush touted his record of doing things "to help improve wildlife." Is he talking about the performance of beavers in standardized tests? I wonder what their reading comprehension is like. And then he said that he proposed the hydrogen automobile. And let me tell you, if this gets anywhere near as much play as the whole thing about Al Gore claiming to have invented the Internet(s), I will be a girl agog. Few circles are ever so complete. "You could say I'm a good steward of the land," got a particularly loud guffaw from the crowd around me. I was very happy when John Kerry responded by saying, "I'm gonna be a president who believes in science." So on point.

And the last straggling random comments I can make follow here. I'm glad John Kerry didn't back down on the embryonic stem cell research issue. I'm glad he made his case on the abortion issue. I'm glad that Kerry didn't let Bush get away with saying that ES research is "the destruction of life" right before he patted himself on the back for being the first president to have allowed some form of it. And I'm skeptical that Bush even knows what the Dred Scott decision was.

After the week I'd had, I was determined to get dressed and go somewhere today. So when I called Josh and asked if he wanted to watch the debates with me, the wheels started turning and all was well. I put on an outfit, reminded myself how to blowdry my hair, and we hit the town. And it was a lovely night. Yesterday was Marco's birthday, so we met him at The Abbey to celebrate belatedly. Pam and a friend of hers showed up, and I was pleased to see her/them. I don't see enough of Pam. She's another bust in my gallery of small crushes. Running into the various exhibits in this gallery is always a nice little boost.

When Josh and I were walking back to his car, we saw his friend Renato and jumped into his car. This sort of thing happens to Josh far more than it happens to me, I'm guessing.

So I think I'm back in the swing of things. Feeling pretty good in the corporeal sense and optimistic about Election Day. Some of the meaningless things I do feel a little more important than they used to. I really notice it when that happens. And I chatted for a bit with Mig in the din of the club. So, there you go. Everybody wins. Well, I do anyway.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:42 AM | Back to Monoblog


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