Marc Ash: Edwards v. Halliburton
Edwards v. Halliburton
By Marc Ash
Monday 04 October 2004
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
The Bush campaign has its game face on in the aftermath of the first debate between Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush, but there has to be some low level panic setting in based on Mr. Bush's performance. Not winning a debate can be a problem for a presidential candidate, but it's nothing compared with looking incapable of doing the job. Last Thursday night George W. Bush did, and his handlers can't feel comfortable with that.
Dick Cheney is not George W. Bush. He's smarter, faster and tougher. Flat-out a more formidable debating opponent than Mr. Bush. Cheney has been the tough assignment guy -- the stopper -- for Bush & Co. They are likely to turn to him Tuesday night to restore order. The Bush campaign likes the War on Terra; it is nothing less than their raison d'être. Look for Cheney to come out firing and attempt to win, in overtime, the argument Mr. Bush lost in the first debate.
For John Edwards this amounts to the challenge of a lifetime. Edwards is sharp, articulate and good looking but still remarkably down to earth for a U.S. Senator. He will need all of that against Cheney. Cheney is a master of innuendo. Never before has one man created so much confusion or disseminated so much misinformation with so few words. Cheney seems to understand precisely what his supporters want to believe, and he gives them just enough to believe it, without ever saying it. It's often said that ignorance is bliss; for Dick Cheney it's been money in the bank, literally.
Poor John Edwards will be stuck with the facts. To say that Dick Cheney has a personal conflict of interest in advocating U.S. military action against Iraq is like saying there is an elephant on the debate lectern. Dick Cheney, since his "retirement" from Halliburton, has steadfastly maintained that, despite the multi-million dollar "retirement package" he received, Halliburton's no-bid windfall multi-BILLION dollar contracts resulting from the invasion of Iraq -- which Cheney sold to the American people -- are a mere coincidence. It is as brazen and enormous a lie as this nation has ever seen. The fact is painfully, brutally obvious.
Mr. Edwards' job will be to compel a higher standard than innuendo from Mr. Cheney. It won't be easy. There is something seductively simple about, 'vote for us . . . or die.' It gives those who hate to think permission not to. Nonetheless many Americans are quite capable of analytical thinking. They tend to be a rather independent breed, the independent voters, if you will. That is the group most likely to carefully consider a fact-based argument by Mr. Edwards. If Mr. Cheney writes them off, he will hold his base but not his job.