Yes, just one Judge this week, and that is me. I will give a round by round review of each Combatant's posts without the scores, then post the Verdict. After the Verdict, scores will be revealed.
But first, a few thoughts...
I want to thank Jay and Rose for their participation this week and throughout the history of Iron Blog. Their hard work and dedication makes what is about to follow that much more difficult for me, as I not only have to Judge them but critique their posts as well.
It isn't going to be pretty. So... here we go!
Short and simple, Rosemary lays out her basic premise for why she supports Bush. She gives us little to think about and few links to follow, and those she does aren't exactly strong, but it /is/ her Opening, she /was/ rushed (as she later said) and Openings were never her strongest point. She has a solid flow to her post, the structure is good though it lacks substance and she pretty much misses the opening to score Bonus Points. A so-so start that at least tells us where she's going.
The exact opposite of Rose's opening, Jay overloads us with substance that quite honestly destroys any real structure to the post. It's mostly a litany of why /not/ Bush, and when he gets to /why/ Kerry, he is - admittedly - rushed. There are some serious and some seriously damaging points in here, but it blows right past because there is just too much all at once. As with Rose, we know where he's going, but it takes him far too long to get there, missing many openings for Bonus Points. The links, many of which are good, are quite honestly /too/ many.
This is generally where Rosemary has always done her best work, and this one post is a perfect capsule of everything that is right and wrong with her style of argument. She simply destroys Jay when she points out that his Opening was more anti-Bush than pro-Kerry, and she scores more points when she picks away at Kerry's insurance plan. Vintage Rosemary. Unfortunately, she tries her best to shoot herself in the foot by first dragging up the Swift Boat story (note to Republicans: SWING VOTERS AND UNDECIDEDS COULD GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THIS. DROP IT.) and her rather vicious attacks at the man in general (also a HUGE turnoff to Indies like me). It is both completely unnecessary and actually detracts from what would have been an damning first rebuttal, costing her Style and Substance points from me as well as a ding in the Facts section of the scorecard. Luckily the rest of the post balances it out.
Once again, Jay is strong on the data and substance, but once again suffers from a structure and style deficit. There are a number of good rebuttals in here, such as pointing out that Rose simply dismissed the previous laundry list of Bush's weaknesses as 'Bush bashing'. She gave him a huge opening and he connects on that punch. He also points out the lack of 'non-partisanship' in her links, but unfortunately gets /more/ partisan in his own, this time. Jay's biggest difficulty seems to be picking a few key points to hammer away at with precision shots and an air-tight style, opting instead to throw an avalanche and hoping his opponents get buried under it all. Rose dismisses everything in one fell swoop, Jay writes a novel answering every single point.
Here, Rosemary goes in the wrong direction. Her biggest strength in Iron Blog Battles has been her rebuttal skills, but rather than come back at Jay and rebut him, she spends over half of her post doing what she should have done two posts ago in her Opening: laying out her case for Bush as strong on terror. When she finally does get back to the actual job of rebuttering as it was once called, she lands a few jabs but nothing worth writing home about. This post suffers from what she, perhaps unintentionally, sums up best as 'quickie rubattal time'.
And Jay gets back addressing every single point Rosemary has ever made since the age of ten. To be fair, he gets in a few good shots here, but some of his rebuttals amount to, "And your guy, too!". Instead of staying on one or two weak spots in Rose's case, he tries to address them all, and in doing so really hurts her on none of them. There's so much here I forgot what he just said as I read the next section.
The links on both sides are starting to suffer from ideology, now.
Making up for the fact that her Opening wasn't, and her Second Rebuttal was actually her Opening, Rosemary turns her Closing into a Second Rebuttal - with raisins! This, quite simply, closes nothing until the very end. It really is a Second Rebuttal, Take Two, and if not for the fact that the rules on bringing in new evidence in Closings were changed after she stepped down as Iron Blogger Republican, I'd auto-zero the entire thing. Since that went into effect after her tenure, I'll let it slide. The closing part of her Closing (the part where she puts an actual Closing Argument) is pretty good. Unfortunately it's only four paragraphs and a handful of one-liners long and only scratches the surface.
It's all or nothing, isn't it Jay? Three posts of Encyclopedia Bushanica, and we get a closing that amounts to, "Woooo Kerry! He's not Dean, but he's not Bush!" The use of the school imagery was both a plus and a minus: he points out that as a teacher he has /lots/ of kids to worry about, but commenting that he has other things to worry about in addition to them getting blown up didn't come across as well as I think he hoped. In the end it's a wash. The style and structure here is a bit better, perhaps because he finally does focus on just a few key issues. If only he can take that and build on it, he'd find a happy middle ground.
In the end, I think what bothers me about this Battle - though nowhere near the level the press, parties and campaigns do - is that I weep for the death of intellectual honesty. Instead of discussing HOW TO MAKE US SAFER, we're caught up in how big a piece of shrapnel was forty years ago and whether our President was pissing on cars in Alabama at that same point in time. WHO THE FUCK CARES?!
I want to know how Bush has made us safer at home other than he's killing terrorists in Iraq. IS he making us safer at home? Has he secured our ports? Our chemical factories? Our borders? Osama Bin Laden just made a cameo yesterday - forgive me if I wonder WHY THE FUCK HE IS STILL ALIVE?
I want to know how Kerry is going to solve Iraq. He's going to have a summit and ask really nicely? He's going to say, what? "Sorry the last guy fucked up. Wanna let me fix it?" It's not that easy, and pretending it is makes me feel like he thinks I'm stupid. HOW WILL YOU CHANGE THINGS?
There are tons of things I want to know, but all we get are spin and rhetoric, spin and rhetoric from /both/ sides.
A plague on both your houses.