. . . Wednesday October 6, 2004

The Night We Never Met

It doesn’t take long for the blogosphere to give us a pretty good indication of the way things might be perceived the morning after a debate or other major event. And so far, things are not trending well for Dick Cheney.

First, Cheney hit Edwards with a personal attack when he suggested that they’d never met. It turns out that they have. And there are pictures. This may seem insignificant in a night featuring a very substantive debate. But the fact is that most Americans will not wake up tomorrow morning and read the transcript of the debate before researching the details of every give and take. But they will remember the personal attacks. And this one, now uncovered and posted all over the web for all to see, makes Cheney look like the kind of guy who would make something up in an effort to disparage the character of his opponent. And that mirrors an already growing perception of the GOP campaign. Whether this was a flub or a lie, it matters.

Second, Cheney got confused between Factcheck.com and Factcheck.org. Neither site has material that is beneficial to the Cheney campaign. And neither one helps him to defend his position in regard to Halliburton. That is one issue he wants off the table. This rather humorous error will keep the conversation going.

There were several other major misstatements or ridiculous comments made by the Veep. And some of them will likely be fodder for the media. But none of this stuff is what you should be focusing on right now. There was a bigger moment in the debate. It is a line from Cheney that should be printed, typed, played, sung, tivoed, downloaded, ipoded, broadcast, wifi’d, emailed, bluetoothed, text messaged, personalized license plated, social networked, skywritten and etched into stone from sea to shining sea.

Here are two quotes. The first is the set up by the cross examiner. The second is the line from the defendent that they will talking about in the jury room throughout deliberations:

Edwards: “Mr. Vice President, there is no connection between the attacks of September 11th and Saddam Hussein. The 9/11 Commission has said it. Your own secretary of state has said it. And you’ve gone around the country suggesting that there is some connection. There is not … I want the American people to hear this very clearly. Listen carefully to what the vice president is saying. Because there is no connection between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of September 11th — period.”

Cheney: “I have not suggested there’s a connection between Iraq and 9/11.”

There is no way to overestimate the importance of this statement by the Vice President. Consider this:

At the time the two candidates strolled onto the stage in Cleveland, 42% of Americans still believed that Saddam was involved in the 9-11 attacks. More than 30% of those polled believed that Saddam personally planned the attacks. This comes from the latest polling.

This election is close. If you can convince even a sliver of this misinformed group that Saddam had no involvement in 9-11, this race is over. Iraq is the central issue of the campaign. And more than 40% of Americans are thinking about the issue armed with the wrong set of facts.

And Dick Cheney just disarmed them.

Concentration is important!