Who won the final presidential debate?

"Gored" by Jake Tapper; "A comeback for Gore?" compiled by Salon Staff

By Letters to the Editor
October 19, 2000 11:58PM (UTC)
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Read "Gored"

Read "A comeback for Gore?"

Finally a journalist willing to tell it like it is -- thank you, Mr. Tapper! As someone who lives in Texas, I have been befuddled by the free pass Bush has been given by so-called journalists. He is such a liar. If you want to see firsthand bipartisan politics, then please do not come to Texas. If you want to send your children to decent schools, do not come to Texas. In Dallas, private schools can't be built fast enough and charter schools are being closed. A parent has to apply to eight private schools here and hope to be accepted by one. I waited and waited for someone in the press to call him on his record in Texas knowing that would finish him off. I am sure Karla Faye Tucker is smiling from heaven.


-- Linda Whalen

Al Gore did a very good job at the third and final debate on Tuesday night in St. Louis. He was forceful, articulate, energetic and showed that he has a very solid command of complex issues such as health care and Social Security. In regard to the latter I was particularly glad to hear him say that Gov. Bush's plan to allow some folks to invest Social Security funds themselves actually takes money out of the system for future retirees and undermines the social aspect of a system designed to benefit all Americans. I do wish Gore had mentioned that programs such as Social Security and Medicare were originally Democratic Party initiatives and have helped millions of people who otherwise would be indigent and without health care.

Bush kept talking about how nonpartisan he wants to be if he goes to Washington and blamed the Clinton administration for failed policies and political bickering. I guess he isn't in touch much with the congressional Republican Party and its very partisan stances on issues which preclude any coming together. Remember when they shut down the government? Politics is a contentious affair and Bush's constant reference to bland nonpartisan approaches belie a lack of clear vision and energy about just what he wants to accomplish. And, if he hates the Washington crowd so much, why is he so eager to join them?


-- Craig Machado

I can't believe that Bush tried to dodge the issue of affirmative action by questioning its definition. If this man doesn't know what affirmative action means, he should not be president. And if this man is against affirmative action and was merely trying to cover up with a slew of misleading statements and phrases, then he doesn't have the conscience and understanding to be the leader of this melting-pot nation.

-- Lin Yelton


Christopher Buckley is apparently completely ignorant of poor Gore's "scandals." The "no controlling authority" quote had to do with phone calls from the White House to raise money (allegedly illegal for arcane and silly reasons). It had nothing to do with the Buddhist temple visit, commonly misrepresented in the Republican press as a "fundraiser." (All the evidence shows emphatically that it was not.) There was no occasion, none, on which Gore shook down Buddhist monks. Ann Coulter too earns a failing grade as political commentator -- Gore did not claim to have invented the Internet, and what he did say about his relation to it and to Erich Segal's book "Love Story" was true, although in the latter case he was correctly reporting a somewhat mistaken newspaper article.

If these folks are going to masquerade as "experts" giving "analysis" of the debates, they at least ought to try to get the most basic facts right. And you editors, however rushed, should not allow them to give new currency to ridiculous stories about Gore, which have been conclusively shown to be false in Salon and in many other publications.


-- Steven L. Reynolds

Jake Tapper has got it right -- Gore cleaned the floor with Bush in this third debate. Anyone who watched it and came away with a different opinion is either hopelessly partisan or stuck in a popularity contest mentality. I'm voting for a master of the issues, not class president. Based on watching him for a year, and particularly his performance last night, Bush is clearly not a master of the issues; unfortunately, his campaign has been very effective in lowering expectations of his abilities and changing the subject from issues to a matter of personality. Nice try, but I'm not buying it.

In another worrisome trend, some are complaining that Gore is "too smart," or a "know-it-all." This is a problem? We're talking serious business here, not fraternity rush fluff. The world is a complicated place, getting more complicated all of the time, and the U.S. is on top of it all. Bush says he'll appoint people who make up for his missing talents; that's nice, but his advisors are not on the ballot. Besides, what happens if his advisors disagree? We need someone who is at the top of his class, not the class clown. I can only presume this trend is another effective high school tactic by the Bush camp, pitting himself as the popular, likeable guy against the bookish, irritating nerd. Who cares about smarts? If you don't, then Bush is probably your man. Give me the "nerd"!


-- Lonny White

You know, I lived in Austin, Texas, when George W. Bush was challenging Ann Richards for the office of the governor in that state. And I watched their last debate. Then-Governor Richards wiped the floor with Bush. She was informed, she was specific, she was persuasive, she stuck to the facts. Bush, on the other hand, was evasive, vague and seemed completely uninformed on basic issues important to Texans such as education, health care and the economy. I came away from the debate certain that Bush had just lost it, that any reasonably intelligent person could see that he had lost it and that Richards had once and for all banished the prospect of the Bush empire rising again in Texas.

And yet ... the public, and certain segments of media, seemed convinced that Bush had won the debate. He was more "personable" than Richards, more relaxed, people seemed to "like" him more. And indeed Richards had seemed visibly upset and shaken at times at Bush's utter inability to answer a straight question. When I look at favorable poll and media reaction to Bush's latest polemical flop, I understand that he's raised his technique to an art form. I'm not supporting Gore, I'm not even going to vote for him, in fact I pity him for trying to fight on solid ground while Bush danced on smoke, water and mirrors. In his own way, Bush is as savvy as Clinton ever was, and he's going to ride that straight into the White House. God help us all.


-- David Hadbawnik

I have believed in the basic intelligence of the American people for 46 years ... until this election. As your Todd Gitlin said, I find it appalling that George W. Bush could be so far along in the election process. It is frightening to me that the American people cannot see through this self-deprecating, entitled frat boy.

What I hear so many people saying is they want a president that is a cross between Forrest Gump and Roy Rogers. In George W. Bush they may have finally found their man.

-- Jeffrey Preston


Al Gore in the third debate proved once again that rules do not apply to him and proved to me that he is just a carryover from the Clinton days.

I'm a registered Democrat, but my vote will be going to Bush.

Jim Lehrer didn't do anything to stop Gore from breaking the rules and that disappointed me. Did Gore really think Bush would answer the questions that he put to him? Bush should have refused to continue, if Gore didn't want to abide by the rules. I am 59 years old and can't ever remember a presidential candidate with such rude manners.

So what if Bush doesn't have any experience where foreign policy is concerned -- that's why presidents have Cabinet members.


-- Norma Villars

What Jake Tapper just doesn't get is that Al Gore is insufferable. On content, Gore probably had more numbers (some may have even been factual, but that is doubtful), spoke with authority and knowledge about specific legislation, scored high on every high school debate coach's card.

The problem is, no one likes Al. He is a jerk, the kid who got the crap knocked out of him in grade school for acting like a know-it-all. Joe and Jane Sixpack snicker about what a horrible person he is in public, and come November, will vote for Dubya.

-- David Schwartz

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