David vs. Goliath, The Vice Presidential Debate; Edwards Counters Cheney's Lies and Distortions
By Anthony Wade
Installment number two of the debate season is presented tonight as the man who stands for fear mongering, corporate greed and war profiteering, Dick Cheney goes up against the man who stood for the common man, John Edwards. The backdrop for this debate is the pummeling Cheney 's boss, George Bush, took last week at the hands of Edwards 's running mate, John Kerry. We expected to see some spin, let 's see if there was any substance behind it.
To hear the pundits talk about this debate beforehand, is like entering a version of the Twilight Zone, or maybe the Bizarro World. Republican Congressman Rob Portman, who was Cheney 's debate partner in preparation for tonight, actually said "Halliburton is a non-issue ". What??? Now, of course the republicans are certainly hoping to spin away from the specter of Halliburton, and the fact that Dick Cheney is the poster child for that stained company, but it is fitting to provide the truth before the debate even starts. Here are the lowlights involving Cheney and his association with this administration 's favorite slush company.1) Dick Cheney insisted that he had no financial interest in Halliburton when he became Vice-President. This has turned out to be a lie as he continues to this day to receive over $150,000 of income from the company as part of a deferred compensation package. He also holds 433,333 shares of unexercised stock options. Cheney tries to spin away from the stock options by saying that he has allotted profit from these to charity. However, he neglects to mention that he then gets a charitable write-off that increases with value when Halliburton 's stock price goes up, as it has over $20 since Bush took office. Now maybe it is the definition of "financial interest " but I think it is clear to most that Cheney has lied about this and continues to do so. No matter how much the GOP wishes this issue is irrelevant, when Cheney 's boss hands off billions of dollars in no-bid contracts to a company he still has a vested interest in, well, that quite frankly just reeks. 2) Dick Cheney also said that he had no involvement in the contracts that were handed out to Halliburton. Unfortunately for him, an email became public that specifically indicated that the award of contracts were "coordinated " with Cheney 's office. Yet another lie exposed that reveals that Cheney is very much involved with the corporate war profiteering of Halliburton. 3) Halliburton has also mismanaged the contracts that they have received from Cheney. The Department of Justice is now criminally investigating Cheney 's company for price gouging the tax payers for 61 million dollars in gasoline and another criminal investigation into two Halliburton employees who took kickbacks from a subcontractor. In addition to this Halliburton has been caught with charging taxpayers for 36% more meals than they actually served to our troops. More abuses involve Halliburton charging $45 for a case of soda, $100 for a bag of laundry, and abandoning $85,000 trucks because they had flat tires. Halliburton allowed their employees to stay at a five-star hotel in Kuwait , at your expense, while our troops swelter in tents. 4) On a larger scale of waste, Halliburton cannot justify 1.8 billion dollars of the 4.3 billion dollar bill they submitted for payment. Did you get that? Cheney 's company submitted a bill to you and me for 4.3 billion, but cannot account for 1.8 billion of it. For their work in the Balkans, this corporate monster is being investigated by DOJ for 2 million more billing they cannot justify. 5) Looking at the time when Cheney was actually in charge of Halliburton, we see that Dick Cheney did 63 million dollars of business with Iran , which is being investigated right now by a Grand Jury in Houston . As if this was not bad enough, Halliburton subsidiaries signed contracts to sell more than 73 million dollars of oil production equipment to Saddam Hussein, a point that Cheney has also been caught lying about. From the area of governmental abuses, Halliburton was charged with bribing the government of Nigeria while under Cheney 's watch. 6) As CEO of Halliburton, Cheney presided over a merger that robbed 25 million from worker pensions and then he walked away with a 20 million dollar pension.
This is just a handful of the distasteful history of Cheney 's company both while he ran the corporate giant, and now when he just collects money from them. To say that Halliburton is a non-issue is at best to be disingenuous. It is clear that Dick Cheney does not work for you or me.
The other main theme being hammered home and unchallenged is this blather about Edwards being the 4th most liberal senator in the Senate. The fact of the matter is that John Edwards was rated the 4th most liberal Senator, during 2003. If you look at his entire career however, you find that the story is not quite what they would have you believe. In 2002 Edwards rated 31st most liberal. In 2001 he was rated 35th. The average rating for his career, which would be a fairer representation, is 24th. The sad part is that no one, including Chris Matthews bothered to point out this discrepancy.
I think that unlike the destruction of Bush at debate number one there did not appear to be a clear winner in tonight 's debate. Dick Cheney definitely was better prepared and is a much better debater than his boss, but a decisive knockout was not given. Cheney was very adept at dissembling, especially when he knew that Edwards would not get a chance to respond. Edwards fell into that trap a couple of times, having to go back to correct the distortions, taking away time from answering the current question.
Dick Cheney began the night with the whopper that he "never said there was a connection between 9-11 and Iraq ". This is a patently ridiculous statement as the country has heard for years now Dick Cheney constantly trumping up such discredited claims. On 09/14/03 Dick Cheney specifically did link 9-11 and Iraq , on Meet the Press. MSNBC should be praised for airing that clip after the debate.
John Edwards tried to stay on point, almost to a fault. He correctly pointed out the horrific voting record Cheney had while in Congress, including voting against Nelson Mandela, Head Start, Department of Education, Meals on Wheels, and Martin Luther King Day.
Last Thursday it was near impossible for the pundits to say that Bush won. Because tonight 's debate was closer we see a return to the coverage where the pundits try to frame the news and not cover it. Joe Scarborough, the noted partisan republican, actually said that Cheney "obliterated " Edwards. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I am always amazed at how much inaccurate information the media will allow. If Dick Cheney "performed " better, but lied while doing it, what exactly should the story be? Should it be about the fact that Edwards looked "slapped " as stated by Chris Matthews, or is it that Dick Cheney repeatedly misrepresented the facts?
In Matthews 's defense, he did stop republican spin-meister, Ben Ginsberg, from trying to prop up the Iraq-9-11 connection and flat out told him he was wrong, and thus the vice president was being disingenuous to suggest he never drew that parallel. What about the other distortions?
Distortion Number One: On the cost of the Iraq War, Cheney tried to refute the fact that 90% of the coalition casualties and expenses are being borne by America by including the Iraqi people. Cheney asserted that when you factor in the Iraqi deaths, the casualty costs go down to 50%. To count the deaths of Iraqis, some of which we are killing, is absurd. The coalition was formed before we went into Iraq , or for that matter Afghanistan . You cannot be intellectually honest and count them as casualties. That does not "demean " the efforts of the Iraqis; it simply is to speak honestly. More than half of Iraq does not want us there but they are part of the coalition?
Distortion Number Two: Cheney asserted that because there was criticism after the Prime Puppet Allawi gave a speech that now has been revealed to have been coached and possibly written by the White House, that somehow that meant that Kerry-Edwards could not lead. Nonsense. The fact is that the speech delivered by Allawi was a political stunt, nothing more. The fact that the White House was directly responsible for framing it only reveals such.
Distortion Number Three: The wonderful progress in Afghanistan . We hear this every day. The facts in Afghanistan are much different than the spin from the administration. The Taliban had destroyed the opium crop when they were in power and now that we have overthrown them, Afghanistan is back in supplying the world with 75% of the world 's opium production. The deposed Taliban has been asked by the puppet regime to serve a vital role in the governing because they recognize that the Taliban still controls much of Afghanistan . So to continue to say the Taliban has been eliminated is factually incorrect. There also is a lot of confusion over the 10 million people the administration claims to have registered to vote, considering that there may not be 10 million eligible voters in the entire country. There have been reports of paying people to register and allowing them to register more than once, thus explaining the high numbers.
Distortion Number Four: The frivolous claim about frivolous lawsuits. This has been a staple of the Bush-Cheney cabal and it was reiterated by Cheney tonight. This simply comes down to whether you think the government should restrict your ability to seek redress against a company or person that has legitimately harmed you. Bush-Cheney side with the companies that do not want you to have that redress and Kerry-Edwards side with you and believe that you should.
Distortion Number Five: Cheney said: "I go to Congress every Tuesday and this is the first time I have met you ". Well Dick, not exactly. Two important facts came out after. One, Cheney had met Edwards at least once, at a prayer breakfast. Two, when Cheney goes to Congress every Tuesday, he does not meet with any Democrats, only Republicans (unlike previous Vice Presidents). I guess it would have been hard for Cheney to have met the Democratic Senator.
Distortion Number Six: Zarqawi, Zarqawi, Zarqawi. Cheney laid out a lot of lies in this area as he again tried to lamely connect Iraq with Terror. The fact is that Zarqawi was never allied with Hussein. In fact the portion of Iraq that Zarqawi stayed in was Northern Iraq which Hussein had no control over and that he had a no-fly zone imposed on him by the United States . It also just came out today that a new CIA assessment stated that "there is no conclusive evidence that the regime (Hussein) harbored terrorist Abu al Zarqawi ". One US official actually said, "The evidence is that Saddam never gave Zarqawi anything ".
Distortion Number Seven: Halliburton, according to Cheney was a "smokescreen ". Please see the beginning of this article to address this garbage. Cheney was called on the carpet tonight by Edwards for trading with Iran while CEO and the gross hypocrisy that Cheney displays. Too bad the press did not also drive this point home.
Distortion Number Eight: The repeated distortion about the "changing views " that Kerry-Edwards have had on the Iraq War. Let 's set the record straight yet again. Kerry voted for the initial resolution with conditions which he demanded that George Bush meet before taking military action. The following link will actually take you to the transcript of Kerry 's speech from the Senate floor:
The salient quotes highlighted on this page are:"Let me be clear, the vote I will give to the President is for one reason and one reason only: To disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, if we cannot accomplish that objective through new, tough weapons inspections in joint concert with our allies.
In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days--to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.
If we do wind up going to war with Iraq , it is imperative that we do so with others in the international community, unless there is a showing of a grave, imminent--and I emphasize "imminent"--threat to this country which requires the President to respond in a way that protects our immediate national security needs. "
Kerry 's position has not changed. George Bush did not meet any of these criteria that Kerry outlined. He has stuck to his word about being the first to speak out against the effort. That is what a steady and consistent leader does. A true leader sticks to his word and follows through. Bush has not and the press should be focusing on Kerry 's steadfastness, not repeating the flip-flop line unchallenged.
Distortion Number Nine: Cheney seemingly scored a big blow by trying to refute Edwards ' assertion that he supported middle class tax cuts by asking him why he wasn 't at the vote last week on the Bush "middle class tax cut ". What the pundits do not point out is that this legislation was not a "middle class " tax cut. In this tax cut, 44% goes to the top 20% of the country and only 10% goes to the middle 20%, or the "middle class ".
This could go on all night. On the economy, healthcare, and Iraq , we heard over and over again how the current administration will give us four more years of the same. Did Edwards do as well as Kerry? No. Did he get "obliterated ", absolutely not. To hear the pundits try and spin this afterwards it would seem that Cheney not only won, but won handily. Edwards played the role of David, standing tall with his slingshot against the giant.
However when you looked at the online polls after we see on the MSNBC poll, with over 600,000 votes cast, that Edwards won 68% to 32%. On the CNN online poll, with over 200,000 votes cast, Edwards won 78% to 18%. A CBS News poll of 178 uncommitted voters found that 41 percent said Edwards won the debate, versus 28 percent who said Cheney won. Thirty-one percent said it was a tie. Seems that the people were able to see through flash and notice no substance behind the Goliath that was Dick Cheney.
Anthony Wade is co-administrator of a website devoted to educating the populace to the ongoing lies of President George W. Bush and seeking his removal from office. He is a 37-year-old independent writer from New York with political commentary articles seen on multiple websites. A Christian progressive and professional counselor, Mr. Wade believes that you can have faith and hold elected officials accountable for lies and excess.
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