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    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

    ''Once you tell people there's a cure for something, the more likely they are to pressure doctors to prescribe it.''
    -Robert Ehrlich, drug advertising executive.

    "Opinions are like sphincters, everyone has one." - Chris Rangel

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    Wednesday, October 13, 2004

    Final Debate: Watching the debate on NBC, Bob Schieffer is much older than I remember. It's been a very long time since I've watched television news. My pro-Kerry spouse isn't here, he's at a meeting, but I am joined by my 13 year old son who has to watch it for school. He's not happy about it. He says he doesn't learn anything about it, since the candidates only repeat the same positions you can read about in the paper.

    First Question: Silly question. Did Bush, Kerry, and Schieffer grow up in a world that's more secure than the one we live in now? Schieffer looks old enough to have been a child in World War II. When Americans had to put up black out curtains and practiced air drills. When German subs were caught off the coast?

    Second Question: Flu vaccine - how on earth did that happen? Good question. We were caught off guard. Public service announcement probably not needed. Linking it to tort reform - good, could have expanded on that more. Kerry's way off base. The current healthcare insurance situation has absolutely nothing to do with the current flu vaccine situation. Those who need the flu vaccine, especially the elderly, get their flu vaccine covered. "A plan is not a litany of complaints" - good comeback on Bush's part. This has devolved into nothing about the availability of vaccines and how to make sure we have those we need to insure the public health. Insurance companies aren't going to make that happen.

    Third Question: How are you going to pay for all of this? Kerry's multiple plans will paid for by tax increases. I don't know enough about tax loopholes to know what Kerry's talking about except that he's going to increase taxes for those making over $200,000. Bush is on a roll. "Pay as you go means you pay and he goes and spends." Ha. Made my son laugh.

    Fourth Question: What would you say to a worker who lost his job to cheaper overseas workers? My son wants to know why everyone's named "Bob." Bush says we need to foster jobs for the 21st century, and that includes education reform. Good answer. Kerry doesn't see the link between jobs and education. Kerry makes a joke about the Sopranos (He must have read the new Kitty Kelly Bush book.) For Kerry, jobs are related to healthcare.

    Fifth Question: Is the President really at fault for job losses? Kerry's going on about loopholes again. What loophole is that? I'm still not clear on that. Kerry's going to fight for the American worker, for a fair playing field. Again, no one's answering this question. Bush is on Pell Grants and tax cuts rather than answering the question. Kerry says he voted for tax cuts over 600 times. That needs to be fact checked. (The pro-Kerry spouse is home. Says Bush should have jumped on "nanosecond" and pointed out that it's awfully French sounding.) Bush fact checks the tax cut votes.

    Sixth Question: Is homosexuality a choice? Bush is doing well with this answer, explaining the concern about activist judges. Kerry is channeling a gospel singer - "We're all God's children." Acknowledges he shares the same belief that marriage is between a man and woman with Bush.

    Seventh Question: Senator Kerry, what do you think about those bishops who are telling Catholics that voting for you would be a sin? He respects their feelings. Says his other votes - for the environment, etc. outweighs his abortion and stem-cell positions. Only someone who doesn't really believe that life begins at conception could feel that the other positions outweigh a culture of life. Bush's answer is better - fostering policies that help reduce abortions, the importance of a culture of life. Even his rhetoric is better, but then again, I agree with the position.

    Eighth Question: The healthcare issue. Exactly right that one of the biggest problems with our system is that the consumer of the service is completely divorced from the cost. And yes, the runaway litigation is also a part of the problem. I'm not so sure about the electronic medical record suddenly making everything better. Those systems are very, very expensive.
    Kerry says that Bush has forbidden reimportation of drugs from Canada (But wait a minute, my patients are getting drugs from Canada. Are they all criminals?) Kerry says he wrote 56 bills as a Senator on healthcare. That, too, needs to be fact checked.

    Ninth Question: What is the Kerry healthcare plan? His plan is better than most people's health insurance - better benefits at lower price. Now he's covering people up to 300% of the poverty level. (That's up from 200%) Also will open up Medicare to younger people (middle-aged.) Bush points out that this will be expensive, that 8 million people will likely switch from private insurance to government insurance under Kerry's plan. Will lead to rationing. (I would add that shifting that many people to government-run healthcare will also restrict access because the reimbursement is so low.) Bush is fact-checking Kerry again re: VA funding. I have to agree. Many of my patients go to the VA for their chronic healthcare needs and only see me for acute illnesses. They don't complain about those VA benefits at all.

    Tenth Question: Social Security. I've long ago accepted the fact that social security won't be around when I'm old. Haven't you?

    Eleventh Question: Social security, again. Senator Kerry are you just going to leave this social security problem for future generations? Raise taxes and we can save it. Those taxes on people making over $200,000 are going to have to be pretty big to pay for all of this stuff, aren't they? Kerry also ignores the fact that the baby-boom generation is going to be an extreme burden on the younger non-boomers if the current social security system stays the same.

    Twelfth Question: Immigration. Are our borders protected? Interesting Bush answer. Open up legal immigration so border patrols can concentrate on illegal immigration. For Kerry, somehow, immigration is the fault of the richest 1% of Americans and their tax burden. Oh, now he's back to the borders. He's got a plan to tighten the borders. Says there are 4,000 people a day coming across the borders, including people from the Middle East. Is that true? Have no idea. Another fact-check moment for Kerry.

    Thirteen Question: Minimum wage. It has a been a long time since the minimum wage was increased. It wouldn't hurt to increase it. I don't buy Kerry's argument that women get paid less for the same work. There are usually other factors - part time, maternity leave, lifestyle choices, that artificially lower women's wages.

    Fourteenth Question: Mr. President, will you overturn Roe v. Wade? Bush rightly says that judicial appointees will not be put to a litmus test. Kerry basically says that he will use a pro-abortion litmus test for his judicial nominees. Somehow, for Kerry, this, too, goes back to the rich and their tax cuts.

    Fifteenth Question: Troop strength. Kerry will double the number of special forces and keep the national guard and reserve in country. Oh, yeah, and get other countries to commit their troops, too. We're back on foreign policy now. Thought that was the first debate.

    Sixteenth Question: Assault Weapons Ban. Kerry would have gotten an assaults weapon ban passed with the shear force of his personality.

    Seventeenth Question: Affirmative Action. It will stay as is under a Kerry Presidency. Oh, and George Bush is a racist. Bush says Kerry's a liar, he's not a racist. Rightly emphasizes the importance of early education, encouraging an ownership society.

    Eighteenth Question: What role does faith play in your job? (Of course that was asked of Bush) Bush obviously feels much stronger about his faith than Kerry does. He's very warm and emotional when talking about it. Kerry sounds like he does when he's talking about any other political issue. With the same hand gestures.

    Nineteenth Question: I missed the question, but Kerry's addressing the political divisions that seem to have widened in our country since the last election. He's more passionate about this than he was about his religion. He and John McCain will work on campaign finance reform, but isn't that one of the things that led to the current divisiveness and nastiness? Bush: Hey, McCain is supporting me!

    Twentieth Question: What have each of you learned from the strong women in your lives? Bush: "To listen to them. And to stand up straight and don't scowl... And she speaks English better than I do." He's really good at self-depracating humor. Kerry, too, for the first time I can remember also made a very good joke at his own expense. "We all married up. Some would say I did more than others." I think this is the most human I've seen him.

    Closing Statements: God bless us, everyone.

    Impressions: A much better performance all around by George Bush than the two previous debates. But, like the last debate, I doubt if it changed many minds. I'd say it was a draw. And I have to wonder how many people watched this one. My son left half way through, too tired to stay up any longer. Same with my husband. Not much about tort reform, other than as asides during answers to other questions. Of the three debates, the best questions came from the average citizens of the second debate. Maybe they should let average citizens ask the questions in all the debates.

    UPDATE: And just remember this advice from a reader:

    One of the main requirements for a successful debater is to be able to argue any position, regardless of one's actual beliefs. Kerry certainly fits the bill; he's argued every side of the coin since declaring himself a candidate. Is that part of the "plan?"

    And, if being a proficient debater were the prime requirement for the office, then a pimply 14 year-old high school student would undoubtedly be the next president.

    UPDATE II: Reader analysis:

    Oh, my.

    I never realized that you were such a partisan. Your laughably slanted
    debate "analysis" is hardly worthy of you otherwise excellent blog.

    posted by Sydney on 10/13/2004 09:00:00 PM 0 comments


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