Friday, October 1


What's everyone saying? The TV newsfolk are spinning madly. Let's look at print:

James Ridgeway says the debate was "a knockout for Kerry":

Bush tried to use his campaign's flip-flop line against Kerry, but it went nowhere. Kerry had such a clear control of facts and argument that the charge fell almost immediately, a spent and useless weapon.

Paul Krugman bemoans "America's lost respect":

As a result of the American military," President Bush declared last week, "the Taliban is no longer in existence."

It's unclear whether Mr. Bush misspoke, or whether he really is that clueless. But his claim was in keeping with his re-election strategy, demonstrated once again in last night's debate: a president who has done immense damage to America's position in the world hopes to brazen it out by claiming that failure is success...let me make a prediction: if Mr. Bush gets a second term, we will soon have no democracies left among our allies - no, not even Tony Blair's Britain. Mr. Bush will be left with the support of regimes that don't worry about the legalities - regimes like Vladimir Putin's Russia.

WaPo has a patently ridiculous editorial take on the debate:

Yet Mr. Bush's clarity in defining goals was not matched with candor about conditions on the ground in Iraq.

Clarity in defining goals? As far as I could tell (and this is nothing new) his goal is to "win" and "defeat terrorism." Those are EVERYBODY's goals. So what?

Ron Brownstein of the LA Times agrees with me:

But the president sometimes seemed exasperated and even angry as Kerry pressed his case against him; at one point, Bush even apparently sighed in frustration, a distant echo of the behavior that hurt Vice President Al Gore in his first debate against Bush in 2000...But Bush may have been weakest in offering specifics on how he would improve the situation in Iraq. On that question, he offered mostly resolve.

Peter Canellos of The Boston Globe says, "Senator scored with confidence":

But for most of the first hour, during which Iraq was the prime focus, Bush's repetition seemed insistent rather than firm, and his body language -- sighing, clenching his teeth, rolling his eyes -- suggested a man on the defensive. Kerry, as had been expected, was more fluid and facile in scoring conventional debating points -- answering Bush's arguments with fresh rebuttals. But his easy manner projected an unexpected confidence that has been missing for most of the general-election campaign, and he leavened his senatorial manner with more-direct answers.

We'll have to wait for a credible poll to see how voters actually reacted to the show. But Zogby gives us a hint what he thinks that may be. Writing before the debate was aired, "The pressure is really on Mr. Kerry to give a strong performance in both the debates and in the remaining five weeks of this campaign. If he is the John Kerry who defeated popular Governor Bill Weld in the Senate race of 2000 and the one who came from dismally low numbers in 2003 to win the primaries in 2004, he will win this race." He WAS that John Kerry, so "we're going to win!"

Okay, okay. But everybody is entitled to a little celebration once in a while.


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