Dick Cheney, Pitcher of Warm Spit

In my house, last night's vice presidential debate lost out to the latest episode of The Wire after an hour. The event had about as much chance of influencing voters as the position papers on each candidate's Web site. You'd have to be a political junkie like me to watch the veepstakes, and people who mainline elections already know who we're voting for.

I do, however, give Cheney a slight nod as the winner. He radiates battle-tested authority and experience, making it hard to lay a glove on him even when he's brazenly lying, as he did when stating "I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11." As Joshua Marshall and countless others have pointed out, no Bush Administration official has made that pants-on-fire claim more strongly than Unfrozen Caveman Vice President, trading in his future credibility for a headlong rush to war.

As far as I'm concerned, this point can't be made often enough in the next 27 days by Kerry and Edwards. When a president sells a war on false pretense, we'd be crazy to reward him with another term, even if the sight of Saddam Hussein in an orange jumpsuit pleases the eye.

A re-elected Bush would be the lame duck who cried wolf. If he receives intelligence in 2006 that requires a pre-emptive strike on North Korea or Iran, to pick two possibilities, millions of Americans won't believe him. His ability to prevent another 9/11 has been undercut by the deep-tissue truth massage that led us into Baghdad.

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