Salon readers hash out who won Tuesday night's V.P. face-off and concede that debating must be "really hard work."

By Salon Staff
Published October 7, 2004 9:16PM (EDT)

[Read "Down, Dirty and Dull," by Tim Grieve, and "Daddy Hunger," by Eric Boehlert.]

I disagree with Tim Grieve's assessment of the debate as dull, maybe because I expected less entertainment and sportsmanship than he did.

I didn't think it was a tie, either. Cheney dodged or ignored all the significant issues raised by Edwards. Cheney kept his head low, eyes averted, resembling a crab scuttling aside from point after point.

Edwards did a much better job of addressing the reality experienced by those of us who work for a living and live outside the Beltway bubble. I thought Edwards connected with that larger audience, as opposed to Cheney, who when asked what he'd do about political divisiveness in the nation, answered with a pointless rumination about partisanship in Congress.

I think we've come to expect so little from Bush and Cheney that they both enjoy the advantage of a permanently low bar. As Grieve put it, Cheney actually made eye contact a few times! And he cited numbers! Never mind that it was obvious his numbers were there to distract from, not address, the substantive issues raised by Edwards.

-- Carol Poole

I watched the V.P. debate with four other liberals who are planning to vote for Kerry, and all of us, at one point or another, were embarrassed, dismayed or horrified at Edwards' poor showing. I think Cheney is an evil troll, but I can't believe that anyone actually thought Edwards "held his own" against him. The very best he managed to do was keep his head above water.

In this debate, Cheney was just better. I hated that. But what is worse -- if only because it demonstrates that rare is the media source that even approaches reality -- is that the general consensus seems to be "draw." How?

-- Laura White

Do we want Cheney for president?

Dick Cheney is more of a political heavyweight than John Edwards. This may seem to favor Bush until you remember than that the two men are competing for the role of vice president.

John Edwards' frequent reference and deference to John Kerry may on the surface appear weak and even tedious, but at least he is making himself a subordinate to Kerry who, if elected, would be a president that leads.

In contrast, Cheney claims to be the guiding hand and fountain of wisdom on which George Bush relies. On Tuesday Cheney claimed his lack of presidential ambition was a virtue, but one can't help thinking that he has effectively been the president for the last four years.

-- John Morrison

Now that I know that Cheney and Edwards have met before, it appears that Cheney foolishly teed himself up for Edwards, who inexplicably did not follow through for an easy shot.

Surely Edwards remembered meeting the vice president, even if Cheney did not recall the encounters. It would have been a highpoint in the debate to watch Cheney try to respond to Edwards' recollection of even one of the several encounters they seem to have had in recent years.

-- Richard Haus

Cheney said he is "not exactly sure why" the country is so divided. Perhaps it's because we have a vice president who goes to the senate and says to a long-term, highly respected senator, "Go f*** yourself."

-- Sally Raynes

Amid all the punditry, a gross omission has occurred in reports on the vice presidential debate. Let's give some credit to Gwen Ifill, who was at least as responsible for any substantive moments as either candidate. Her questions were sharp and better than Lehrer's. Her AIDS question was profoundly revealing.

She even found a graceful counter to Cheney's unctuous posturing; he'd begin his answer with an avuncular: "Gwen... " and at one point she finally answered with, "Mr. Vice President... " -- gently alerting the audience to Cheney's smarmy ploy. Few others have shown such integrity and poise. Great job, Gwen!

-- Sara Hartley

I find that no news or opinion organization remarks on the real loser of the veep debate -- George Bush. Although Cheney was lying through his teeth, he was coherent and able to put more than three words into a sentence.

Of the four individuals who have debated, poor George comes in worse than dead last. That takes "really hard work."

-- Les Halpern

Salon Staff

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