Friday, October 01, 2004

The best blog on the Debate

Unexpectedly I did not think Sullivan was very good. He "winced whenever Kerry mentioned Halliburton and cringed when he went back to Vietnam" which may be natural for a conservative but compared to Bush' cheap shots I (see my unedited notes above) this was peanuts. I agree that "The notion that all our problems will be over in Iraq if only we have a summit is ludicrous" but I thought "The pathetic isolationist strains - about spending money there that we should be spending here" were highly relevant and definitely not "depressingly off-key". The tax-payers should care how their president spends their money, no? Isn't that a core belief for a Conservative?

Josh Marshall, on the other hand, talkes about what I found to be the most striking part about the debate: The defensiveness of Bush:
What occured to me somewhat while I was watching the first time and even more on the second go through was just how long it's been since President Bush had to face someone who disagrees with him or is criticizing.

Every president gets tucked away into a cocoon to some degree. But President Bush does notoriously few press conferences or serious interviews. His townhall meetings are screened so that only supporters show up. And, of course, he hasn't debated anyone since almost exactly four years ago.

Frankly, I think it showed. It irked him to have to stand there and be criticized and not be able to repeat his talking points without contradiction.
On Kerry, Josh' conclusion was also the most important in my view (and this was echoed by Stephanapoulis on ABC):
If you look at the dynamics of this race and the small but durable lead President Bush has built up over the last month, it comes less from people becoming more enamored of President Bush or his policies as it has from a steep decline in confidence in Sen. Kerry.

To put it bluntly, the Bush campaign has created an image of Kerry as a weak and indecisive man, someone that -- whatever you think of President Bush -- just can't be trusted to keep the country safe in these dangerous times.

Often they've made him into an object of contempt.

Whatever else you can say about this debate, though, whatever you think of his policies, I don't think that's how Kerry came off. I think he came off as forceful and direct. And I suspect that most people who were at all genuinely undecided came away from the 90 minutes with that impression.

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