We learned a few new things about George W. Bush in his debate this evening with John Kerry. Bush, for example, promised not to appoint any Supreme Court justices that support slavery (if that’s his bottom line we’re in real trouble). We also saw his sensitive side. When asked if he could come up with any mistakes he’d made he said maybe one or two in his appointments (I bet he meant Donald Rumsfeld) but that he couldn’t say in public for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. Bush also tells us that he sees himself as a good steward of the earth (I was thinking nearly the same thing last week). Let’s just leave that conversation between God and the president when the time is right.
John Kerry had a good debate. He didn’t let the president off the hook for one second. Take this one moment from a question on Iraq:
KERRY: We're going to build alliances. We're not going to go unilaterally. We're not going to go alone like this president did.
GIBSON: Mr. President, let's extend for a minute...
BUSH: Let me just -- I've got to answer this.
GIBSON: Exactly. And with Reservists being held on duty...
BUSH: Let me answer what he just said, about around the world.
GIBSON: Well, I want to get into the issue of the back-door draft...
BUSH: You tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Silvio Berlusconi we're going alone. Tell Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland we're going alone.
There are 30 countries there. It denigrates an alliance to say we're going alone, to discount their sacrifices. You cannot lead an alliance if you say, you know, you're going alone. And people listen. They're sacrificing with us.
KERRY: Mr. President, countries are leaving the coalition, not joining. Eight countries have left it.
If Missouri, just given the number of people from Missouri who are in the military over there today, were a country, it would be the third largest country in the coalition, behind Great Britain and the United States. That's not a grand coalition.
Ninety percent of the casualties are American. Ninety percent of the costs are coming out of your pockets.
I could do a better job. My plan does a better job. And that's why I'll be a better commander in chief.
My hope was that there would have been more questions about domestic issues and less about foreign policy in this forum. However, I thought Kerry did a great job.
The picture at the top of this post is of Kerry and his wife at the after-debate rally that Liz and I attended with the babies. Frances and Katherine were decked out in red white and blue for their big evening out. We joined several thousand others at the America Center to watch the debate on large screens. Kerry joined us about an hour after the debate ended. St. Louis Congressional candidate Russ Carnahan came by to say hello to us and to meet the twins. Liz volunteered on his successful primary campaign. Carnahan is running for the seat vacated by Dick Gephardt.
We also ran into a couple of friends from Eden Theological Seminary. Wes Knight was there volunteering for the campaign (and looking very official for this picture). Our friend Tony Clark was also there. The crowd was huge and fiercely proud of Kerry’s performance. It was announced that the Kerry campaign – which had all but given up on Missouri – would start airing campaign commercials again here next week. That means this Midwest state is back in play.
Entertainment at the rally came from the band Better Than Ezra. They played a long set before the debate started and then kept their crowd dancing as we waited for Kerry to arrive. It was a little loud for the tiny ears of Frances and Katherine, but we still think the entire night will make a great story for them to tell when they get older.