Thursday, September 30, 2004

My take

Recalling what people have said about the Nixon v. Kennedy debate, I listened to the debate on the radio - and I opted against the station permitting Michael Savage to break in.

My impression, from what I heard, essentially echoes Grant's thoughts, though I would have scored Bush better than Grant. W gets a "B" for Bush, and Kerry a "C+" for Cambodia.

I agree that Bush jumped on Kerry about 1/2 of the time that I was hoping he would. I found myself yelling at the radio "Yeah Kerry, but you freakin' voted for the money before you voted against it!!!" And I was hoping for Bush to come out swinging, but most of the time he let me down. In the past few months, I had been worried that Bush would permit Kerry to control the debate and that he'd spend his time defending his record without taking his offense on the field. I was happy and relieved with tonight's performance. He was relaxed and good to go.

I give Bush points for his being the first to take a positive tone and to show his respect for Kerry. Kerry had to follow that up and try to do the same, though it didn't come out right. Bush complimented Kerry, and Kerry said "I appreciate enormously the personal comments the president just made. And I share them with him." Perhaps I'm reading that wrong, or does that mean Kerry likes himself too? Or does it mean that he has some "personal comments" for Bush? No matter.

The point is, even over the radio, I could tell that Bush was relaxed, I could see his smile, I bet his heart rate was lower, and I'm guessing some people will join us in Bush Country after this.

As for some of the substantive matters, Bush needed to be more solid in his presentation. I wished he had been more forceful in putting Kerry down for disrespecting our allies in Iraq and in the war on terror. He did say "My opponent says we didn't have any allies in this war. What's he say to Tony Blair? What's he say to Alexander Kwasniewski of Poland? You can't expect to build an alliance when you denigrate the contributions of those who are serving side by side with American troops in Iraq." That was good, but could have been better. [that reminds me - it bugged me that he referred to Kerry as "my opponent." That's fine for the campaign trail, but the man is standing right there - you don't have to worry about giving him free publicity]. I think Kerry struggled to communicate his message that the middle east is unstable because of GW's actions. It didn't go over. GW had a good come back - they fought us in Afghanistan and got their asses handed to them, so they moved to Iraq, and they're fighting like hell because they know they don't stand a chance if they lose in Iraq. That was good. Bush could have had a better response to the question about whether he believed electing Kerry would increase the chance for another 9/11 type terrorist attack. He just said "that" wouldn't happen, referring to Kerry getting elected, not another 9/11 attack. Lame, I thought. He had to know something like that was coming after Dick's comments.

Korea - Bush needed to explain what the heck he was talking about to the lay citizen, who doesn't understand why bilateral discussions with NK won't work, why we need China to be at the table, and what it will mean for us and our allies if we don't do something with the quickness.

Lehrer opened the door for Bush to lay into Kerry about his "character." He should have been more specific about the flip-flopping, and like Grant said, what that means about Kerry. There are too many people who are voting ABB, and they will take no responsibility for what happens to our great nation if Kerry wins. Since he hasn't stood for anything (more than a day or so), since he hasn't told us what he's going to do about anything (and how it'd be different than what W would do), he'd get into office and stick it to us and the ABB crowd will declare themselves blameless for the result. "We didn't know who Kerry was, or what he stood for, we just knew that Jon Stewart told us that Kerry wasn't born with the name 'George W. Bush' and therefore we should vote for him."

The bottom line is that this was Kerry's big chance to cut W's lead, maybe to overtake him. The dems believe that Kerry is much smarter and more articulate than the President. Tonight, clearly, that belief has been debunked. Clearly, they're even par. The difference is that Bush can talk optimistically, he can be proud of his record, he doesn't have to rely on attacking JK to get votes, he has the confidence of knowing that his voters are voting for him because of who he IS, and not because he's not the other guy. Kerry waited about 16 seconds before he began his attack on Bush, and from that point on, all he did was more of the same - conclusory claims that he's going to do this and that - but not how he's going to do it and why his plan is better for our country. I'm glad he assured his voters that he'd put our country's interests above any other's, but the sad this is that he had to do that. Bush didn't. We know he's got us as his #1.