The VP debate is over, and while there was plenty of blood spilled, there were no dead bodies at the end. Overall, however, I do have to admit that Cheney gave the slightly - that's slightly - stronger performance.
Cheney had the closest thing to a winning line when he said that as VP "I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight."
It's a beautiful line. It also happens to be a lie. Besides the time they've each spent in the Senate, they've also met on at least two public occasions: a national prayer breakfast in February 2001 during which Cheney, in his remarks, acknowledged Edwards and when Edwards escorted North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole while she was sworn in by Cheney in January 2003.
Cheney was also, however, the most flustered, when even he couldn't defend the President's position in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. He first said what he believes, "States have regulated marriage... That would be my preference." But once states, such as Kerry's Massachusetts, actually moved that way, "the president felt that it was important to make it clear that that's the wrong way to go, as far as he's concerned... he sets the policy for this administration, and I support the president." Talk about flip-flops and having it both ways! Regulating marriage is the state's responsibility, unless they accept that responsibility.
When Edwards then gave a clear outline of his and Kerry's position, and explained that the Constitutional amendment is just a political rouse to divide the nation, Cheney could say nothing in response to defend the administration. He used about three of his 90 seconds rebuttal time. "That's it?" asked moderator Gwen Ifill. "That's it," said the Veep.
But, overall, I do have to say that this was a close match, with Cheney possibly finishing slightly ahead. Despite the items I chose to quote above, he managed to keep Edwards on the defensive throughout the session; defending Kerry's record as well as his own. All Edwards was able to do in return was get in a few of the same rehearsed points that Kerry had given last Thursday. Edwards did very well, but not excellent.
For those who missed the action, The Washington Post has the full transcript online for some exciting reading.
And now, for your shock and amusement, a couple of video links:
G.W. Bush drunk - Looks like he's at some wedding, a few years before running for President, but not that long ago...
G.W. Bush on sovereignty - It's a simple question for a simple man...
And, finally, Bush and Blair in a loving duet.