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The Bush campaign had a stroke of genius by putting the vice presidential debate less than a week after the first debate, on foreign policy.

Cheney completely commanded the portion of the debate on Iraq tonight. Edwards came out swinging about how things are going poorly in Iraq, and Cheney pointed out there are many positives. Deflated. Edwards came right back and said Hussein had no connection to 9/11. This was his rebuttal to Cheney's point about how there are positives, and he continued this as his main point in the next question. Cheney said, well, I never said there was any such connection. Deflated.

So now all those people who might have been a bit concerned about US foreign policy direction under Bush after the first debate, see that it is all sane and reasonable and under control after this debate. And therein lies the genius.

The Bush people knew Bush would have problems in that first debate, and by putting Cheney in this position neutralized much of the negative effects on Bush.

Cheney didn't smack down Edwards as much as I thought he might, but he won the day handily. Edwards simply isn't equipped to handle Cheney: he has a tremendous grasp of all the issues, is quick, and neutralizes passion with calm reason.

I did finally listen to the Bush-Kerry debate from Thursday. I watched about 10 minutes of it, listened to the rest. I thought Kerry "scored more points" in debate contest terms, but I thought Bush's arguments were just fine, and I think his case was stronger. Of course, that's largely because I agree with his arguments, but I still think he made a decent case.

That said, Kerry still owned the debate, commanded it. Bush was on the defensive and really didn't score many hits. But Cheney owned Edwards. The big question is whether Bush will handle the next two debates well. I think he will handle the town meeting one better than Kerry by quite a bit, and I think the final debate will be a draw.

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