After last week’s presidential debate, last night Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator John Edwards faced opposite tasks.
Since last week Bush demonstrated a sense of conviction but only the most rudimentary knowledge of the diplomacy, military tactics, and politics of the war in Iraq, last night Cheney had to demonstrate a mastery of the situation. He did so and then some.
Since last week Kerry came across as competent and articulate but failed to prove himself a man of conviction, last night Edwards had to demonstrate determination and overarching purpose. Instead Edwards came across no better than Kerry. A man with an unusual gift for talking? Yes. But a man of conviction? Hardly. As Cheney put it in the most brutally effective line of the evening, “If they [Kerry and Edwards] couldn’t stand up to the pressures that Howard Dean represented, how can they stand up to al Qaeda?”
Although both candidates turned in performances good enough to hearten their supporters, only Cheney turned in a performance good enough to move some undecided voters.