This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



October 2004

Debate Wrapup

I promised my thoughts on the various debates, and keep forgetting to do that, so here goes. Since the first thoughts are what I really want, I’ll grab things from emails I sent at the time when I can…

First Presidential Debate
(my comments sent at 1 Oct 2004 04:02:40 UTC)

I though Kerry definitely won. He came off much more together and coherent and his answers were a lot more thought out. He did a lot better than I expected. Bush did just about how I expected. I was surprised at just HOW much he just kept repeating his stock phrases and prepared stock answers. I expected both of them to do some repetition, it is part of what you do. And they both did. But over and over W kept going back to the same few things, even when it wasn’t related to the question at all… and I was just amused by some of the long pauses.

Vice Presidential Debate
(my comments sent 6 Oct 2004 11:18:19 UTC)

Unlike the other one, this one was a fair fight where both contestants were in the game. In the first half though, Cheney was running circles around Edwards. Edwards looked and sounded like a young wippersnapper who had a few lines he wanted to get off, while Cheney sounded like an authoratative adult who knew what the hell he was talking about. Edwards did a little bit better in the second half when they got to domestic policy, but just a little bit better, not a lot. He never pulled ahead. Cheney won this one.

I also note, that although I probably still would have issues picking a candidate, I’d be a lot happier if these were the two choices rather than Bush/Kerry. Either one of these guys would be better than the ones above them on the tickets.

(IE: I may still violently disagree with Cheney on many things, but at least it is obvious he has thought about the issues and has some complexity and depth behind his positions. Edwards is less of a difference, but I’ve just had a better reaction to him than Kerry, going all the way back to the primaries. He’s slick in a Clintonian way, but I still trust him more than Kerry.)

Second Presidential Debate: Well, I didn’t really comment much at the time in any form I can cut and paste. I thought it was much more even. Bush did a good job. Kerry did a good job. No knockouts, nothing significant. I was not impressed by the format. If you are going to have a town hall, have a real town hall. If you are just going to do what they did there, dispense with the audience and just have the moderator do it.

Third Presidential Debate: Well, to be honest… Domestic issues kind of bore me for the most part (with some exceptions) and I was kind of tired to begin with. I fell asleep at least three or four times trying to watch this debate. If it wasn’t for the Tivo I never would have made it through. As it was it took me several days. And I end up with very groggy impressions of it. So I can’t put a real opinion together. The polls and such seem to have Kerry coming out better from it.

Well, that is my debate opinion summary.


On Friday the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart was on Crossfire on CNN. And he just completely lit into them. Go Jon! Follow the link for the full transcript, or go here for the video. Here are my favorite bits…. (The […] indicates I’ve left stuff out, sometimes several minutes of stuff, so some context and back and forth is missing… I took out a bunch of the times Carlson and Begala inturrupted… go read the full transcript or watch the video to get the whole thing…)

Crossfire Transcript for 15 Oct 2004

CARLSON: Right. But of the nine guys running, who do you think was best. Do you think he was the best, the most impressive? […]

STEWART: I thought Al Sharpton was very impressive. I enjoyed his way of speaking. I think, oftentimes, the person that knows they can’t win is allowed to speak the most freely, because, otherwise, shows with titles, such as CROSSFIRE. Or “HARDBALL” or “I’m Going to Kick Your Ass” or.. Will jump on it. In many ways, it’s funny. And I made a special effort to come on the show today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being bad. […] And I wanted to — I felt that that wasn’t fair and I should come here and tell you that I don’t — it’s not so much that it’s bad, as it’s hurting America. […] So I wanted to come here today and say… […] Here’s just what I wanted to tell you guys. […] Stop. Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America. […] See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you’re helping the politicians and the corporations. And we’re left out there to mow our lawns.

BEGALA: By beating up on them? You just said we’re too rough on them when they make mistakes.

STEWART: No, no, no, you’re not too rough on them. You’re part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks. […] You know, it’s interesting to hear you talk about my responsibility. […] I didn’t realize that — and maybe this explains quite a bit. […] is that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity. […] So what I would suggest is, when you talk about you’re holding politicians’ feet to fire, I think that’s disingenuous. I think you’re… […] So what I would suggest is, when you talk about you’re holding politicians’ feet to fire, I think that’s disingenuous. I think you’re… […] No, no, no, but what I’m saying is this. I’m not. I’m here to confront you, because we need help from the media and they’re hurting us. And it’s — the idea is…

BEGALA: Let me get this straight. If the indictment is — if the indictment is — and I have seen you say this — that… […] And that CROSSFIRE reduces everything, as I said in the intro, to left, right, black, white. […] Well, it’s because, see, we’re a debate show. […] It’s like saying The Weather Channel reduces everything to a storm front. […] We’re 30 minutes in a 24-hour day where we have each side on, as best we can get them, and have them fight it out.

STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would be great. But that’s like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition.

CARLSON: Jon, Jon, Jon, I’m sorry. I think you’re a good comedian. I think your lectures are boring. […]

STEWART: Now, this is theater. It’s obvious. How old are you?

CARLSON: Thirty-five.

STEWART: And you wear a bow tie. […] So this is theater. […] Now, listen, I’m not suggesting that you’re not a smart guy, because those are not easy to tie. […] But the thing is that this — you’re doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great. […] It’s not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.

CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you’re accusing us of partisan hackery?

STEWART: Absolutely.

CARLSON: You’ve got to be kidding me. He comes on and you…

STEWART: You’re on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. […] What is wrong with you?

CARLSON: Well, I’m just saying, there’s no reason for you — when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy’s butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It’s embarrassing.

STEWART: I was absolutely his butt boy. I was so far — you would not believe what he ate two weeks ago. […] You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one. The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk…

CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

STEWART: No. No. I’m not going to be your monkey.[…]

CARLSON: I do think you’re more fun on your show. Just my opinion. […]

STEWART: You know what’s interesting, though? You’re as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.

(via Fark)

Now, I haven’t watched Crossfire in a long time. (Although I was in the audience for one taping a few years back.) It was interesting back in the Buchanon/Kinsey days, but since then I just have found it annoying. But this is one of the best Crossfires I have ever seen. They get taken to task about the whole premise of their show and similar shows.

I Tivo the Daily Show every day. I usually don’t watch it until a week or more later, but I do watch it all the time. And I watch and listen to news and commentary from a lot of other sources every day, mostly online. (I don’t watch nearly as much TV news as I used to.) And the striking thing time and time again is that Stewart is the only one doing a really good and consistant job of calling both the media and the politians on when they are being hypocritical, when they are just using vapid words with no content, etc.

I’ve heard talking heads on the various news networks or elsewhere talk sadly about how “young people get their news from the Daily Show” and how bad this was since they were not getting “real news”. I think it is even sadder that a comedy show can time after time provide a more insightful view into current events than the “real news”.

Anyway, watch the clip. It is good stuff.