Democrats & Liberals Archives

Blue Team Heads to Series Closer with 2-0 Lead

A story in my morning paper today said that while polls conducted immediately after the debate scored it roughly as a draw, polls conducted a few days later gave Kerry a substantial lead. The reporter attributed this to better post-debate spin. Personally, I think the change is due to post-debate fact-checking. At the risk of confusing everyone with an out-of-season sports metaphor, Kerry won on points from the penalty stripe.

Just for background, I was trapped in planes and wedding dinners during the last two debates, and saw only pieces of them. My main experience of those debates was through the Washingon Post's debate referee - a transcript that's been extended with links to a "referee" that points out errors and inaccuracies. I love the idea - maybe they should do it in the real debates. ("Tweeeet! sorry Mr. President, Poland was NOT part of the original coalition. Factual error, Senator Kerry will now get the microphone at halfcourt.")

Just for fun, I decided to score the debates. In the first debate, Bush got eight foul calls, Kerry six. Pretty close, and most of the whistles were for more-or-less-minor things like the Poland goof, or Kerry's overpricing of the war in Iraq. (He's obviously been in the Senate too long - does he actually think people can tell the difference between numbers like 120 billion and 200 billion?) Another Washington Post story sums it up as Few Factual Errors, but Truth at Times Got Stretched.

In the VP debate, Cheney got ten foul calls, Edwards eight. A bit more physical game, from what I saw. For the record, the Washington Post ref missed Cheney's famous zinger "This is the first time I ever met you". Obviously rehearsed, obviously deliberate, and totally false. Should have been a technical foul, or maybe ejection from the game.

But in the second presidential debate, there's a huge difference. Bush gets fourteen whistles, Kerry only three. Two of these calls were subsequently corrected: Bush probably didn't know that he owns a piece of something that describes itself as a timber company, and Kerry's comments on Shinseki's warnings were conceded to be essentially correct. Call it as: 13 fouls on Bush, 2 on Kerry.

Now, that's a huge swing. If this were a game of hoops, Senator K would have spent most of it in a double bonus. If every foul was called for two shots, and Bush hits all of his, that's only four points for Bush. If Kerry hits only 60% from the charity stripe (big men can never shoot fouls well) thats, um, about fifteen points. An eleven-point swing, folks - that'll be fatal in any close game.

What's the explanation? not to be partisan, sports fans, but I think that after game 1, W has decided not to try and go one-on-one with Senator K. Instead, like any outgunned athlete, he's decided to commit the fouls and take penalties, rather than let Team Blue get the easy points. And Cheney, with his blatent "the is the first time we've met" remarks and "go, for example, to FactCheck.com" was testing the waters. Would Americans object to a dirty game? When the whistle blows, will they listen?

Interesting questions! Forget domestic policy - I'll have my scorecard ready tonight, watching closely for body contact. Is Bush really giving up on the truth, and just posing for the Moron Majority, that section of America too lazy to get on the Internets and hit FactCheck.org? Or was game two a fluke? And - what is that box on his back anyway?

See you at the game! Posted by William Cohen at October 13, 2004 2:43 PM