All right. We’re here, we’re queer, we’re ready to blog. Aaaand, we’re already on the first question, so I’m just going to cut to it.
9:04 p.m.: Clearly, Dick Cheney is just going to bring it. In his first answer, already he’s restating that Saddam and Al Qaeda were connected. Which fact, I believe, was thrown into doubt last week by the CIA. And, er, Donald Rumsfeld.
9:06 p.m.: Johnny’s clearly going to bring it right back. We’ve lost more troops in September than we have in August, he says, More in August than in July, more in July than in June.
9:11 p.m.: Second Cheney answer, second doubtful assertion … The situation in Iraq is one where you’ve got terrorists and you’ve got all the weapons of mass destruction that [Saddam] had been building up, and you’re in danger of the two coming together. There’re those pesky WMD that don’t appear to exist. I think there were about 420-some pages on this in the New York Times this past Sunday, in fact.
9:15 p.m.: Cheney’s strategy, at this point, is clear. Screw the facts. Harsh? Absolutely. But come on. Third answer — third severely questionable assertion. Ten million registered voters in Afghanistan, almost half of them women. Oooor:
The tally of registered voters in Afghanistan, over 10.5 million in an overall population of 26 million, is now believed to be significantly inaccurate, the result of widespread multiple registration by voters. As explained here, pronouncements by Afghan and international officials boasting that 40 percent of registered voters are women ignores the likelihood that tens of thousands of women have been registered more than once (some believing their voting card would entitle them to benefits or food rations), and masks regional variation in the figures, including data from some southern provinces showing that less than 10 percent of those registered are women. Several election officials in Kabul acknowledged to Human Rights Watch in late September that the number of Afghans expected to vote on October 9 could range as low as 5 to 7 million.
That study came out like last week. It’s not like D.C. hasn’t seen it.
9:20 p.m.: Ya-ZOW! Cheney to Edwards: … random piece of legislation, yadda yadda … you probably weren’t there to vote for that, Senator. Da-HANG!
9:29 p.m. Johnny is a pitbull. This is the height of hypocrisy. ZING! I love it! These guys are, like, verbally all over each other. I would tell them to get a room, but them getting it on would actually be kind of gross, and Dickie might have a coronary.
9:34 p.m.: Gwen Ifill? LOVE her.
9:39 p.m.: D.C.: I could respond, Gwen, but I’ll need more than 30 seconds. *smug grin* Gwen: Well, that’s all you’ve got. (Beeyotch.) This woman is fierce. Whatever the pundits say, they’re wrong. Gwen Ifill won this debate.
9:44 p.m.: Sooo, it may seem somewhat discordant that Robin’s blogging in Pacific Standard Time and I’m blogging in Eastern Standard Time. And, also, odd, given that I’m currently in California, where it is in fact
9:45 p.m 6:45 p.m.. (Ahem.) But — I dunno — it seems wrong that an event that is clearly transpiring in prime time is somehow happening at 6 p.m.
9:50 p.m.: I don’t even see Johnny rifling through papers. How does he remember all these FACTS?? Don’t get me wrong, Cheney also has an impressive grasp of boatloads of info, but Edwards is like frickin’ Tron.
10:01 p.m.: Gay marriage, blah, blah, blah. Oh wait, hold on, was that a tender moment between Messrs. Eddie and Chen-Chen? Dickie’s all, Thanks, Johnny. That was really sweet, you know, what you said about Mary. *batting of eyelashes, exchange of long, loving glance*
Don’t be afraid to speak your love, guys. We all know Don’t write discrimination into the Constitution is just pol-speak for J.E. + D.C. 4evr.
10:10 p.m.: Oooh, yeah, speak health care to me, Johnny. Fifty years old, Matt. FIFTY. YEARS. OLD.
10:14 p.m.: Gwen to Johnny: You have no experience. Why are you here? Johnny: Ummm … look into my eeeeyes. Am I not beautiful? Is my jawline not perfect? Does the 1950s part in my shiny, gorgeous hair not convince you of my earnestness? Don’t question me, Argwentina.
10:19 p.m.: Cheney: Wait, Gwen, you want to know why I’m different from John Edwards? Whoa, I’m totally not. I’m, like, the son of a mill worker. And I’m prettier than he is.
10:21 p.m.: Edwards: How am I not like Cheney? Well, let’s see, I’m actually John Kerry. What??
10:26 p.m.: Kevin Drum think Johnny sounded too negative in the foreign policy part of this debate. I’d disagree, and not just because he’s hott. Not hot. Totally un-hot. Old enough to be my father. OK, well, maybe partially because he’s hott. Really, harsh criticism coming from him sounds completely un-harsh.
10:36 p.m.: Oh, snap. John Edwards started his final statement by thanking Gwen and Cheney. Cheney, somewhat pointedly, I thought, started his statement with, Gwen, I want to thank you. *Thudding silence.* No nookie for Johnny-boy tonight.
Pre-spin closing thoughts: I actually thought this debate was really interesting in the foreign policy segment, then faltered off as domestic policy took over. Not only were the two men quite snarky to each other at first, but they were engaging in a substantial back-and-forth on the merits of the policy and the strengths and weaknesses of its execution. Facts (and, yes, largely unfounded assertions) were flying left and right, and it was meaty and absorbing, I thought.
It wasn’t that either of them started doing worse as the debate wore on, it just kind of ground down into predictable ruts when it got to domestic policy. (Cheney: Look at all the great stuff we’ve done. Edwards: Look at all the great stuff we’ll do.) That’s partially because the domestic situation is just murky right now — could be better, could be worse. A lot of scathing criticisms could be made of the situation on the homefront these past four years, but there’s nothing there quite as shimmeringly catastrophic as Iraq.
All Edwards had to do was sit there and be charismatic. And he did, but he was sharp about his facts and his logic, too, so he definitely did well. Cheney, sadly lacking the charisma chromosome, did the best he could against such an opponent. I don’t think either won or lost this one, but Edwards may have continued the momentum Kerry earned last week, while Cheney didn’t quite reverse the falling fortunes of his set, I’d imagine.*
Now, onto the real fight. Will Laguna Beach’s L.C. wrest Stephen from the wily arms of her competitor Kristin? We’ll find out at 10:30 p.m. / 9 p.m. Central.
*Although I still think his set is going to win.