While I regard the Sainted Al Gore as an American treasure, there really are limits to the things he should be doing. Having elected to sit out the 2004 election cycle, I don't think he should be doing things like giving John Kerry debate advice for tomorrow night's pivotal first presidential debate in Miami.
Kid Kerry was famously President of the Debating Society back at Dear Old Yale (where, as you will recall, our esteemed President was a C-student legacy, and served as a cheerleader-- more the kind that makes inane yells, rather than one who does gymnastics, of course.) The format will allow for little free-wheeling, but someone (or everyone) will figure out ways to evade the format, to fire their staged one-line zingers and timed applause lines.
Dubya, actually a reasonably intelligent and articulate (though mediocre and a n'er do well) New England Brahman scion, prep schooler and Ivy League graduate, has mastered the art of appearing to be a mentally retarded Texan. He has a bought and paid for media that will declare him the winner, even if he uses the ninety minutes to read a story about a goat, vomit up blood and otherwise just stare into the camera.
However, actual voters, by the millions, will be watching this-- and if something is decisive enough to burst through during the proceedings, the spin will not undo their visceral perceptions. THIS is what the debates are about, folks!
Gore feels that Kerry should try to hammer on Bush's record, and hold him to account. Naturally, if Kerry was thinking about doing this, Al Gore suggesting that he do so should convince him that it is a bad idea, and he should do something else.
My suggestion is conveying to the country that while the President has served the nation to the best of his abilities, those abilities are just no longer up to the job at hand. Whether the President's advisors are keeping him from accurate information, or the President is just not processing it, his rosy assessment of the Iraq situation squarely at odds with those of his own cabinet secretaries Rumsfeld and Powell is more than cause for concern: it is cause for national panic. Without faulting the (poor and overburdened) President (its probably his advisors and handlers), the nation thanks him for his service, but we need someone capable of figuring out reality before making life and death decisions. In short, I would try to portray Bush as more of a tragic figure (perhaps in the manner of an Aeschylus or a Euripides, rather than a more complex Shakespearean one such as Lear), for whom the strain of office has just been too much.
But it's Kid Kerry's fight, now. He's a seasoned pugilist whose been training hard. The chimp-een hasn't lost a bout since the 70's, and since he perfected his rope-a-dope (key word dope) in the 90's, No-Gentleman-George has just worn out opponent after opponent with his skills at evasion and sucker punching. Kid Kerry comes in pretty much undefeated, using his style of relentless, almost machine-like swinging, punishing his opponents until the late rounds and boring holes into their resistance (key word boring) until they just fail from sheer exhaustion imparted by the barrage they received.
The referee will have to keep the fighters to the modified Marquis of Queensbury rules to which their corners agreed, but this should be a doozy, folks.
In keeping with your boxing analogy, I submit to you that the greatest Heavyweight ever was Muhammad Ali. Despite his self proclaimed greatness, however, there were several fights at the end of his career that each could be generously called a draw. Although it appeared that he may have lost some of these fights, the rationale was that you had to clearly beat the champ to get the crown, and Ali fought on.
At the same time, there was a kick boxer by the name of Rocky Aoki, who fought George Foreman in an exhibition fight. Mr. Aoki had a rather prominent chin, and the pugilists took to calling him Pelican Jaw. In the exhibition, Foreman had a great time punching the fish out of the Pelican's Jaw.
Now, nobody will mistake Bush for a heavyweight, nor should he be spoken of in the same sentence as Ali. However, he is the current champ, and must be decisively beaten for the challenger to ascend. Pelican Jaw Kerry is way behind in points, even though, to quote Billy Joel (why?), Ali (Bush) has given away another round for free. Does anybody really believe that this Pelican, with his chin, has a chance to knock out the reigning, though not undisputed, Champeen of the World?
Posted by They Call Me Mr. Crabcake at September 29, 2004 3:36 PM
Read yesterday's post, Mr. C. We agree in principle, but not in measure. Kid Kerry has to win by the decisive margin necessary to score a "unanimous decision" as opposed to "a split decision".
Does he have to knock the title-holder out? Certainly not. Does he have to knock him down? Very likely he does. Glancing blows will certainly not do it.
If the Title Holder (I won't call Bush "Champ" because, (1) he isn't, and (2) I'll just keep typing "Chimp") leaves the ring bloodied and shaken and the Challenger remains unscathed, even without the Title Holder being knocked down, that might be enough for that unanimous decision Kid Kerry needs.
While we call it "the sweet science", judging the damned bouts is an art form: you just have to see how it plays out.
But we have had a paradigm shift: just two months ago, the debate (and this election) was Kerry's to lose. Now, it may well be Bush's to lose.
Injury update: Bush's training has been hurt recently because of knee problems. He is not running, and is literally not as fast on his feet anymore, and may well be on pain killers and even anti-depressants because of the injuries (I'm quite serious about this; a key injury can really mess up everything.) So-- if Kid Kerry can capitalize on any weaknesses in the No-Gentleman-George's game, we could see that big upset the Kid needs right about now.
Posted by the talking dog at September 29, 2004 4:29 PM
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Posted by Z. Z. Bachman at September 30, 2004 12:21 AM
Okay, boxing analogies aside....'cause really, if waging an illegitimate war against a country that posed NO threat to our national security doesn't get you thrown out of the ring, I don't know what will....why, oh why, does our President want to appear to be a mentally retarded Texan? Just asking...
Posted by alicia at September 30, 2004 11:13 AM
The boxing analogy is not meant to be flip; its meant to short-hand this thing into easy to understand metaphors. BTW, I don't think removing Bush from office is nearly enough "consequence" for the Iraq war. If I were in a position to do it, I would see to it that Bush, Cheney, Rice, and a few others actually faced war crimes prosecutions. But that's just me. Anyway...
Just ten short years ago, the President looked and sounded very much like a younger, slightly less polished version of his father-- but every bit the New England Ivy Leaguer-who-spent-time-in-Texas. But they trained him in rote and stock phrases and evasions and accent correction including teaching him to mispronounce nuclear, and making them APPEAR to be natural and breezy, and he CRUSHED the more polished and formal Ann Richards. Four years later, they had the formula down when he crushed the next guy.
In 1999, they came up with a formula for taking this guy national. They came up with a character I'll call "Retarded Marlboro Man"-- handsome, rugged, generally silent, and when not, pretty dumb and inarticulate but folksy and friendly... "REAL SEEMING". They bought him a ranch, which has been in his family for generations (of MAYFLIES- it was bought in 1999).
For whatever reason, they loved this act in Texas. To be fair, governor is actually the 5th most important office under Texas' bizarre constitution-- its really ceremonial and part time.
But they took this act national. They already had the Republican side sewn up: the criminal enterprise known as the Bush family has 35,000 loyal donors willing to write $2,000 checks to anyone named Bush. No one else in either party has anything remotely like that. With that built in advantage, they lined up the party regulars and the smear machine and crushed John McCain.
With the party nomination sewn up, they then invented the Al Gore stiff cardboard cutout liar character, to offset against the folksy Dubya "real guy" character. Since IIRC, Survivor was one of humongous hit shows of 2000, I get the feeling that the Texas oil and money men who entrusted Karl Rove and Karen Hughes to create the "Dubya" character (Bush had previously been fond of calling himself "George Bush Junior") realized they had struck gold with the idea of FAKE REALITY.
And so, going against the shy, but real AL Gore (who they portrayed as a confabulating cutout), the Faux-Texan Faux-regular guy Harvard MBA millionaire got close enough for his Texas oil and money men friends to cash in the chips they bought over at the Supreme Court, and the rest is a rather dark part of our history.
To paraphrase Blazing Saddles, Karl might say to himself "You are SO GOOOOOD. And they [the American people] are SO DUMB."
Posted by the talking dog at September 30, 2004 11:53 AM
Yeah, but what else has Gore got to do?
I'd even think Kerry has been busy, so Gore's distant appraisal might be worth something.
Posted by Josh Narins at October 4, 2004 4:54 PM