The Vice-Presidential Debate

Article excerpt

ITS a truism of US politics that voters dont vote for vice president; they vote for the president. Vice presidents and vice-presidential candidates are surrogates for the top of their ticket. There was only one vice presidential debate scheduled, in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 5th. Apparently the Republicans were worried about the Presidents relatively lacklustre performance in the first presidential debate, so the reclusive, grandfatherly looking Vice President Dick Cheney, who is considered the most powerful vice president in US history, was brought out as attack dog to defend his President and the administration. In dramatic contrast, the young neophyte senator from North Carolina John Edwards, a former trial lawyer whom Senator Kerry chose as his running mate, faced the major challenge of his political career, facing up to the experienced, canny Cheney.

Each hewed their party line, on Iraq, and the economy. At times it seemed almost surreal, as if they were speaking of two different worlds. The Vice President insisting that things are going well and we made the right choice while Edwards cited the costs, in terms of human life and billions (Edwards said $200 billion) that have gone into the war, which the Kerry people consider a diversion from unfinished business in Afghanistan.

Actually it had been a bad news day for the administration with the former Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremmer III saying that there had not been enough troops on the ground after the war to prevent the looting or to secure Baghdad. …