The Kerry-Bush Debate

So I spent some time this morning reading through CNN’s transcript of the Presidential foreign policy debate this morning. I wish I could have seen it on the screen, but since I don’t have a TV, this is the only way for me to access it, I think.

Anyway, I have a question about something Bush said:

The reason why Prime Minister Allawi said they’re coming across the border is because he recognizes that this is a central part of the war on terror. They’re fighting us because they’re fighting freedom.

They understand that a free Afghanistan or a free Iraq will be a major defeat for them.

Other than his ascribing motivations to someone for an action that is, after all, simply stating a fact (wasn’t Allawi stating a simple fact?) I wonder why it is Bush thinks that terrorists consider a “free Iraq” or a “free Afghanistan” a threat? It seems that the freer a society, the more easy it is for terrorists to hide out and recruit.

Or is it that he thinks it will prevent the recruitment of Iraqis or Afghans respectively? Because, unless America “frees” every country in the world, there will always be some people unhappy enough to engage in terrorism. And hell, given that there have been at least a few major terrorist acts from within America by American citizens, it seems to me that even “freeing” every country in the world won’t eliminate it.

Though “freeing” information reported on purchases and delivery of red-alarm substances might. Then South Korean companies couldn’t sell them to North Korea; then they could not be sold to Iraq or Afghanistan; then some Joe Schmoe couldn’t buy enough to blow up a building in Oklahoma City.

Which sounds like I am arguing for transparency, but it’s not quite the same. I am not for the suspension of the privacy of citizens, just for the addition to public knowledge of which of a certain class of hazardous goods and substances are being bought and sold and delivered to where.

The problem is, this is only possible in societies that wish to cooperate. So North Korea and Iran, for example, would not be interested in cooperation.

Hmmm.

Anyway, I think, so far from my readings of the transcript, that Kerry did much better than Bush. Bush has more of an air of spitting out taglines, though both of them really exuded some of that fakeness.

Of a bigger concern to me is how very prepared each of them seemed for it. I think the 36-page document was just a little to preparatory, and the debate just a little too controlled. You can never actually get to the heart of any given matter given only two minutes. So these debates, it seems to me, end up more like “appearances” with live tagline blurbing included. So much is left out, really.

And I just found a blog that manages to cover some of what is left out there, at TomPaine.com. Worthwhile, even if he is also caught in the partisan mindset to some degree. (So much of America, it seems, is.)

UPDATE: These word-usage stats provided by Daily Kos are interesting. I would be interested in some kind of script that would do vocabulary and even word-string analysis, looking for how much of Kerry’s and Bush’s comments mirror the phrasing and wording of newspaper articles… and, in addition, how much of it will be used verbatim in the coming discussions on various online mailing lists and so on. I think that may not exist yet, though I remember mentioning such an idea to an old online acquaintance, Nick Arnett, who apparently did up some kind of perl script to do that kind of thing. He was already very interested in that sort of thing, and if you look at the first business listed on that resume, he even gave it a go, though it didn’t seem to work out. Too bad: such a tool would have been useful.

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