Just Above Sunset
October 3, 2004 - "You forgot Poland."

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The first presidential debate took place this week, and we all had our first impressions of it.


When Bush said to Kerry "You forgot Poland” was that the end of it?

From Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta – channeling Karnack the Magnificent from the old Johnny Carson show -

Answer: Toast

Question: "What's John Kerry's new middle name?"

Yep, the taller guy talked about real problems no one wants to hear about, and the shorter guy recycled those sound bites from old episodes of "Bonanza" - with a few things from Doctor Phil on the evil of sending mixed messages.  Nothing changes.  Bush wins.

Rick sent these comments to his wife, a news executive working the event that night, and she didn’t get it.  So he sent this -


"Translation: I thought Bush won. Yes, Kerry's right, Bush is wrong, but I still think Bush was probably more convincing to undecideds. Then again, the post-debate pundits seem to disagree with me. I hope they're right."

I did a quick scan all of the net (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox), and sure enough, the first good words on all (except maybe Fox) was good for Kerry.

Wait! I just tuned into Fox and all the Fox dudes and dudette (Fred Barnes, Mort Kondrake, William Kristol, and some woman I didn't catch the name of) thought Kerry kept the race alive! Maybe we're both wrong! I swear I could have come up with better answers if I were the debater (although I'm glad I'm not the candidate), but maybe Kerry's answers were better than I thought.


Ah, we shall see.

This over at Pandagon, blogging the event live, and the reaction -


The after-analysis on CNN is struggling to come up with something Bush did good, and all they can say is that he stayed on message. And Carlos Watson just compared Kerry admitting he made a mistake to Bush's relaying a personal story as moments of humility. Watson's analysis is horrible - Bush had "command of policies"...but he didn't. He mentioned countries, a few policies, but Kerry destroyed Bush on policy knowledge outright.

Greenfield just called the debate for Kerry, essentially. He said Kerry connected, he said conservative blogs thought Bush was on the defensive and he said he wanted to wait a few days to decide if Bush reassured. And the other guy (Carlos Watson, I think...?) said undecideds are now going to take another look at John Kerry.



I think it came down to Bush seeming to be defensive, and whining.  No one likes a whiner.

What really happens comes the next day, after the press tells us what to think.



Kerry said we didn’t have much of an alliance in Iraq.  Bush upbraided him and said Kerry forgot Poland.  From the running commentary at Hit and Run -


Strong Alliances: Bush (approximately): "He says we didn't have allies? What does he say to Tony Blair? What does he say to Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland?"

President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland: "They deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that's true. We were taken for a ride."


This will no doubt usher in a new era of Polish jokes.

Rick replies -


No, no, I for one will refrain from making Polish jokes!

But still, in the president's defense, didn't Kerry also leave out Honduras? And why didn't Bush bring up Kerry leaving out Tonga? Or how about, "Hey, what does he say to the leader, what's-his-name, whoever it is, of the Marshall Islands?"

So you have this list of the "Coalition of the Willing," which variously measures 30 to 50 countries -- depending on who wanted what and when, which I understand is down into the 40s or so now. These are countries that are frequently cited by Bush and his folks whenever critics say, "We went in alone." So the question is, did the administration ever sit down in a meeting, as equals, with all these folks and ask, "What do you think, should we invade Iraq? Let's put it to a vote!" Or was it a case of, "Look, whether you join us or not, we're going in! Are you with us or against us?"

But then you have something we never talk about, which is a list of the "Coalition of the Unwilling," which was everyone else.

You want to flaunt your allies? Try this:

In 2003, just before this war, there were about 193 countries or so in the world. You might want to exclude two or maybe three of them (i.e., Vatican City; maybe Taiwan, which arguably was not even a proper country; and of course, Iraq), which might reasonably be assumed not likely to join this exclusive American-led "Coalition of the Willing," and that means roughly three out of four countries in the world.

So this just in, George: If you want to do a nose count of countries? You lose!

One real point (of many) in this Iraq discussion being, it's not the United States' call to enforce United Nations resolutions, it's the United Nations' call.

And as to the question of defending America? As we now know for sure, George, you didn't!

And as to whether, if you had known they had no WMD, would you invade them anyway? You say you would have, but on what grounds? I wish someone had asked you that last question.

But I'm glad Kerry went along with the so-called "War on Terror" and Iraq being the subject of the first debate. I guess we'll know in the next few days if Kerry won. I don't know, but I hope he did.


He did, not that it matters.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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