There’s been a lot of heated debate over dishonesty and manipulation of facts after the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates. In many ways I think the items that are attracting outrage are relatively small, and those more deserving of public scrutiny seem to be getting ignored.
For instance, given the overall context of a political debate, I thought Cheney’s remark about having never previously met Edwards was for rhetorical effect–not a literal statement. The substance of the remark–Edwards’ poor Senate attendence–was both on target and (I felt) not adequately addressed by Edwards’ response.
The brouhaha over Cheney’s remarks seem as well-grounded as Democratic allegations of Bush being prompted through a concealed microphone during the debate (a charge which the Presidential tailor – EVERY president’s tailor since Nixon or so was quite incensed over). This sniping of superficial remarks in the age of Tivo has masked what I feel are some serious points.
I think Bush has serious detractions including:
* A very closely held, loyalty-driven, non transparent administration
* An unwillingness to re-examine past decisions or make course changes for ANY reason
* A tendency to argue through emotional appeal rather than validity of logic.
Kerry’s detractions for me are:
* A lack of major difference in platform (details differ, not overall themes)
* Lack of details (e.g. How exactly to involve other nations in Iraq, since I doubt France, Germany, Russia, or China would touch it with a 10-foot pole)
* Unwillingness to campaign on the strength of his senate record (the LAST 30-years of his life). While not a great legislator, I would think that his investigative work would be an impressive highlight. Kerry’s unwillingness to emphasize his Senate accomplishments forces me to conclude that HE doesn’t value them highly.
Problems I have with BOTH major-party candidates include:
* Unwillingness to address issues and propose serious, detailed, attainable solutions. Both parties have resorted to engaging in character attacks. Plans that HAVE been put forward seem to be more grounded in posturing and rhetoric than any real motivation to solve pressing issues.
* An de-emphasis by both parties in swaying undecided voters, and an emphasis instead in getting more of your loyal supporters to vote (and less of your opponents)
While I don’t feel comfortable voting for 4 more years of a Bush administration (conservative by what measurel; constructionist? fiscal? foreign-policy? domestic agenda?) I also don’t believe in Kerry strongly enough to endorse him for President. While I have issues with the alternative parties, particularly the Libertarian and Green positions on government and economics, at least their candidates have definitive, substantial, issue-based positions. While far from making a decision, I find myself increasingly thinking that sending a statement of my values and concerns in the long-run may be a wiser move than a short-term, least unacceptable decision from among the major parties.