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Monday, July 12, 2004

Edwards vs. Cheney: Think Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader

"It will be not so much a vote as a taking of the American temperature"
Andrew Sullivan

The scenes of the two Democratic candidates in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania were picture perfect. Small children added to the JFK tableau. The rhetoric was warm and populist and broad-grinned. The two men were very touchy-feely, clasping each other, always close, almost the definition of the "new men" of the boomer era. You simply couldn't imagine Bush and Cheney having anything like such a physical rapport. When asked what he thought of the John Edwards pick last week, president Bush replied tartly: "Dick Cheney can be president." That kind of gruff, serious, non-nonsense language couldn't be more distant from the blathery uplift heard from Kerry in his announcement speech. My favorite line? Kerry's peroration: "We've come here today to put a team together that's going to fight to bring back America's mighty dream. We're going out of here today to let America be America again. Let's go out and make it happen together." A prize for anyone who has a clue what that piece of verbal flatulence actually means. . . .

Edwards' best shot? To get a Cheney snarl that reminds voters why they distrust him. Cheney's best shot? To have a foreign policy question where he leaves the neophyte Edwards in the dust. And just because it's a side-show doesn't mean it won't be drama. Think Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader; Austin Powers versus Dr Evil; and the boyish charms of the 1990s versus the cold fear of the new millennium. It will be not so much a vote as a taking of the American temperature. And you couldn't find two more constrasting characters to choose between.