|Your account||Today's news index||Weather||Traffic||Movies||Restaurants||Today's events|
Thursday, October 14, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
The presidential debates turned out to be more informative than cynics thought. Last night, John Kerry was in top form, and though George W. Bush dodged a few hardballs, his personal statements on religion and the women in his life were masterful.
This page was not moved from its support of Kerry, though we don't always agree with him. Bush portrayed Kerry as a man offering large and expensive government programs. Though Kerry insisted that all of his proposals were paid for, it is doubtful that many Americans with an experience of an election or a Visa card believed it. Then again, Kerry was able to label Bush as "the first president in a hundred years not to veto one bill." It is true, and damning. On the rise in medical costs, Bush was right about tort reform. But Kerry is right about allowing Medicare to negotiate for drug discounts.
On trade and job outsourcing, Kerry said he has told union shop stewards that he cannot promise to end it. That was a way of saying he was for trade and not protectionism, which is an important thing for this state to know.
On illegal immigration, Bush said he was opposed to any amnesty. Kerry said he was for "earned legalization." Kerry's is the more practical response: Guard the borders and police employers, but also offer some hope to undocumented immigrants who have citizenchildren.
Bush, who supports individually managed accounts within Social Security, was asked how he would finance the transition, which might mean a trillion dollars in borrowing. He dodged it. Instead, Bush attacked, pointing out that Kerry had offered no plan to fix Social Security. That was true. But Bush had not answered the trillion-dollar question.
Bush also dodged the question on affirmative action. Instead, he talked about Pell grants and Small Business Administration loans. Kerry answered it. He said, "We have not moved far enough along" to dispense with racial preferences, which is surely correct.
Bush promised to treat homosexuals "with respect and dignity," which was a strong statement but lacking in specifics. Kerry made the same promise, and though he said he was not for gay marriage, he was for such things as the right to visit a partner in a hospital. That was an answer both moral and practical.
On the expiration of the ban on assault weapons, Bush said he would have signed another ban but that Congress wasn't about to pass one. Kerry replied, "I'd have said we're going to have a fight." That was a stronger answer.
It was a grand duel, and those who watched it have little excuse to be undecided.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
Home delivery | Contact us | Search archive | Site map | Low-graphic
NWclassifieds | NWsource | Advertising info | The Seattle Times Company
Back to top