The Quick Take
Overall, I enjoyed watching today's debate. It was that anomaly in American politics: a moment when the country's political attention span focused on actual issues, namely:
1) What should be the balance between multilateralism and unilateralism?
2) Can Iraq really be labeled part of the war on terror?
3) Should we hold bilateral talks with North Korea?
4) Should we intervene in Sudan?
Any viewer watching could get a clear idea where the candidates stand on these issues. John Kerry wants to rejoin the world of nations and promote peace through diplomacy (reserving military force as a last resort). George W. Bush would like to reshape the map of friends and foes through military force. John Kerry says there is no connection between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11. George W. Bush says Saddam Hussein posed a threat that needed to be stopped immediately. Kerry wants to negotiate directly with North Korea. Bush wants to try and share that negotiation task with other nations, principally China. Kerry would like to see immediate action on Sudan, where 50,000 people have been killed in what Colin Powell recently described as "genocide." Bush would prefer to throw money at the Sudan ($200 million, or the amount of money spent every day in Iraq) and hope that makes the problem go away.
On November 2, the voters will decide.