CHUCK MUTH'S NEWS & VIEWS

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Chuck Muth is President and CEO of Citizen Outreach and a professional political consultant. Mr. Muth is a professional campaign trainer, a newsletter publisher and talk-show host who regularly appears on political TV and radio programs.

Wednesday

News & Views, 10/6/04


THE BIG VEEP DEBATE

Last night was the big debate between Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John Edwards. It was like watching Albert Einstein debating physics with Forrest Gump. Cheney mopped up the floor with him. Edwards was lucky they didn’t have a “slaughter rule” in place for the debate the way they do in some politically correct Little League baseball leagues. He’d have been out of there by about the fourth question.

Look, this isn’t just my personal partisan “spin alley” here. I’ve been VERY critical of both campaigns for one thing or another. The fact is, John Edwards has a pretty smile...and that’s it. His public policy thought processes are as deep as a paper cut...and just as painful. The idea of John Edwards sitting in command in the Oval Office is akin to imagining my 4-year-old sitting in the captain’s chair of the USS Enterprise. This guy makes Dan Quayle look like Winston Churchill. Edwards may be great wowing naïve juries in a North Carolina courtroom with his “channeling” ability, but he lost the case to Dick Cheney last night...BIG TIME.

Two particular observations:

1.) By the end of the debate, Edwards’ never-ending “We have a plan” responses became a running joke among those of us watching. He and John Kerry have a plan for this, a plan for that. They have a plan for everything. Tired of having your newspaper delivered into your bushes? Don’t worry. The Two Johns have a “plan.” Having trouble with unsightly dandruff? Don’t worry, the Two Johns have a “plan.” And usually, that plan will somehow involve a “summit.” Good grief.

The simple fact is, the planning is easy. The execution is hard (Tip of the Hat to Joe Gaylord). These guys couldn’t execute a U-turn on a deserted country road.

2.) Dick Cheney showed last night that quite often, less is more. Just because he was given 90 seconds or 30 seconds to respond, didn’t mean he HAD to use up his full allotment of time in order to get his point across. While Bush, Kerry and Edwards rarely finish speaking before the red light comes on, Mr. Cheney regularly said he simply had nothing further to add and just moved on to the next question.

For most politicians I think it actually causes physical pain to try to stop talking before their time is up. Cheney did so with doggone-near reckless abandon. Had Edwards followed suit, last night’s debate would have been over in plenty of time for the rest of us to catch the end of the Twins-Yankees game.

And in the Dick Cheney spirit of less-is-more, that’s it for today’s edition of News & Views. More in this afternoon’s DC Confidential. Speaking of which...

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