Debateblogging: Roundup

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The crew of old debater friends I've been watching with seem to agree with my impression that this was a clear Kerry win (I believe the word "assrape" was used) but a quick scan of the talking heads and bloggers suggests that most people seem to think their guy did the better job, so who knows. Looking back I see I've picked on Bush pretty consistently, which isn't entirely fair—those repeated invocations of Vietnam, as though the experience of shooting at VC on a riverboat is an experience relevant to being commander-in-chief—were silly, though less nauseous than at the convention. Still, there seemed to be more targets of opportunity on the right side of the screen. Whether it matters is another story; the recent meme has been that with expectations for Bush so low, his competent performance would be read as a victory. We didn't get that competent performance, but again, it's relative to expectations—since he managed not to sit there just jibbering, it's within the parameters of the "Bush isn't the most eloquent public speaker" narrative, so it's hard to imagine anyone changing their mind in response to an exchange that fit the established candidate stories well.

Addendum: It was pretty obvious that Kerry won in a formal sense, but I wasn't sure the popular reaction would reflect that. It looks as if it does, though: The ABC/CNN/CBS polls are all giving it to Kerry by margins of about 10 to 20 points.

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  1. Assrape is right. If America can look at Bush in the debates tonight and see anything other than a jibbering blank slate, then it’s a wonder.

    This is the guy that’s been leading us in the fight against terror? My God.

    Honestly, Bush looked like a Care Bear trying to remember what his handlers had told him to say, and several times he did this “smirk” thing which made him look like he was about ten years old.

    Absolutely pathetic.

  2. I gotta go watch John Stewart take sloppy seconds now. Can you say Assrape II?

  3. How sad is it that the expectations of the President of the United States is to not just sit there jibbering.

    He shouldn’t be able to rely on the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” The bar shouldn’t be low. He should be held to the standard of a President.

    HEAN OUT

  4. “…but a quick scan of the talking heads and bloggers suggests that most people seem to think their guy did the better job…”

    Wow, Julian, you think? And maybe – just maybe – that applies to you as well?

  5. Bush’s smirk is awful, but Kerry’s big Ronald McDonald grin ain’t particularly endearing. He looks like a big goof (and Bush looks like a small one).

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the American people were smart enough to judge people on policy and not smiles and public-speaking ability?

    Until the incredible ingnorance of the vast majority of people in this country and the world is remedied, we’ll never have good government.

    The morons of this planet get the government they deserve. Unfortunately, the smart folks have to suffer as well.

  6. The question to ask isn’t, “Who won?” The question to ask, address it to the committed, “are you looking forward to your candidate in the next debate?”

    It’s all about energy and turning off your opponents supporters. Who did that tonight?

  7. I don’t know. Kerry is obviously slick, but he comes off as fake and condescending. I think most regular folks are going to go with Bush. I know I am, Kerry brings out a homicidal rage in me. Look at his record.

  8. The bit on nuclear proliferation knocked the wheels off Pres Bush. I mean, it’s what Kerry’s been saying for months. How could he not be ready for the one issue that actually makes a large-scale difference?

    That’s the clip we ought to be seeing in the news coverage. Instead we’re seeing more snide stuff about “I think my opponent was right when he said Iraq was a threat.”

    Is that all you got, George?

  9. Yes, Todd, thank you for that astute reiteration of the point I was making.

  10. There’s another angle to this – which performance can be more easily dissected as fodder for the next round of commercials?

    Kerry flip-flopped several times during the course of the debate. He said that he wouldn’t have gone to war in Iraq. He said that the money spent on the war could have been better spent elsewhere. But then he also said that Hussein was a threat and he should have been toppled. Any money that there will be a new cut-and-paste Bush commercial showing those contradictions?

    And I’m sure the Kerry gang will be going over the debate looking for the same ammo against Bush. There was lots of stuttering and stammering, but I don’t remember Bush making any big mistakes that can be exploited and magnified. Can anyone else?

  11. Two key statements for me..

    BUSH SAYING: We will change tactics!! We won’t stay the course

    BUSH NOT SAYING: WAR ON TERROR is the biggest threat to US…after all the Orange Alerts and terrorism hammered into the American psyche..

  12. Gee, Julian “Libertarian for Dean” Sanchez thinks Kerry won. Big surprise, there. If Kerry had broken down in tears halfway through and endorsed Bush, Sanchez would still think Kerry had won.

    Whatever the flaws in Bush’s record, it’s still not clear to me what Kerry actually plans to do differently. Draft France and Germany? Give me a break — they won’t help, and they don’t have the ability to do so, even if they did. Increase the number of troops? Abject surrender? Who can tell?

  13. Kerry’s spiel about the danger of policy rigidity in spite of what’s happening on the ground in Iraq and in spite of the science behind stem cell research, etc. probably scored a few points with undecided voters.

  14. Pete M, If France and Germany don’t help us under Kerry they know we will elect another Republican president, and I don’t think they want that, so they will be forced to help, n’est pas? Just a theory.

    Notsobad, please tell me what about Kerry’s record makes you homicidal? Sincerely curious.

  15. The only people claiming Bush won argue their hatred for Kerry on the issues. Interesting.

    For the first 30 minutes, Bush responded to every Kerry criticism of the conduct of the war with a variation of “How Dare You?” This only works if the criticims is seen as genuinely beyond the pale. The points Kerry is making aren’t beyond the pale to most Americans, even to most of those who will vote for Bush. They’re the questions that the election will be decided on. Kerry argued his side of those questions, and Bush spent half an hour acting shocked that anyone could publically challenge his conduct of the war in Iraq.

    Except it didn’t work, and it became apparent even to Bush that he was losing, and the two men’s body language changed. Kerry was gesturing expansively, and looked like he was on top of his game. Bush was hunched defensively over the podium, as if to protect himself.

    It looked like one man beating on another one, because it was one man beating on another one.

    We’ve got a tied race, folks.

  16. Yes, joe, but we had a tied race yesterday too… just goes to show you that nobody really watches the debates, eh?

  17. Pete,

    Don’t be so hard on Julian. It sounds like all of his friends are lefties and he wants to keep them. Maybe he’s not much of a contrarian.

    I’m an ultra-contrarian, so all of my lefty San Francisco friends love to hate me.

    Babushka,

    Pete’s right. Although you make a rational point, the peoples of Germany and France would destroy any leader that sends troops to Iraq.

  18. Dan H.

    “Stuttering and stammering” I have to reiterate what kidhean pointed out above:

    He shouldn’t be able to rely on the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” The bar shouldn’t be low. He should be held to the standard of a President.

    Exactly kidhean!

    I saw multiple unbearably long stretches of dead air as Bush just sat there with the same goofy grin he had on his face right after he was informed of the terrorist attack on Manhattan.

    Then his mouth would pop open, he’d give that asswipe little smirk of his, and then mangle his talking points to the point of self-contradiction.

    This is a guy who has been caught without his handlers and revealed for the imbecilic lightweight he most certainly is.

    The impression he leaves is not one of leadership but of someone being led.

  19. Bush scored a few points early pointing out that you can’t say you are going to effectively lead a war you think is a “grand diversion,” etc., and also by undercutting Kerry’s claim that he would be better at bringing in new allies, by pointing out that he’d called the ones we had a coalition of the coerced and bribed. Then he got sleepy and cranky. A better debater could have really put Kerry away tonight.

    Kerry did a good job criticizing Bush, and looking Presidential, but didn’t really say why he would do better in Iraq. He can’t really make the case that he should be the president without differentiating himself.

  20. …oh yeah

    …and I thought Kerry was effective when he pointed out that Bush answered a question about the War on Terror with a response about the War in Iraq.

  21. neil, Bush was a little ahead yesterday. He won’t be by the end of next week.

    Bush had moments. He could even be said to have “won” the ICC point, since Kerry didn’t get to address it. And his closing statement had a nice, end of presidential address quality to it – helped in the stature department. But that was pretty close to it.

    As for deron’s question: if you were George Bush, would you want to get back on a stage with John Kerry after that? I smell a terror warning.

    BTW, anybody watch the PBS special about third parties. The LP guys were great.

  22. Is anyone surprised at joe?s partisan analysis? The debate was a complete wash. Kerry didn?t manage to articulate the complicated posture he has been forced to take on Iraq. Bush was a broken record ?the world is a safer place?, ?you can?t lead by calling the ware a diversion?. Both told the sappy personal stories, lame. Engagement of North Korea was the only interesting portion. I had no idea Kerry favored bilateral talks, I would have liked to hear what he hoped to accomplish with that tack.

  23. Hey NotSoBad, regular folks like me thought Bush looked a little silly!.

  24. Since I oppose Bush and his reactionary puppeteers, all I can say is I would be weeping, mortified, and probably throwing in the towel if my candidate were as abominable a speaker as our current president. Kerry’s presentation is a cut above Gore’s, too. Whew, maybe there’s hope!

  25. “Kerry’s presentation is a cut above Gore’s, too. Whew, maybe there’s hope!”

    He’d have had to perch on top of his podium and eat a puppy to present worse than Gore.

  26. joe-

    I watched the first 30 min. The third time they cut from the LP candidates after a 10second spot only to follow Cobb or that wacko constitution bozo for another 5 min. spot I turned it off in discussed. Don?t tell me they got around to a got LP spot. Was that constitution guy a not job or what, the American Taliban.

  27. This is what got me, Kerry said he would go it alone in talks with North Korea. He would abandon China, Russia, Japan and South Korea and deal directly with North Korea.
    Well, isn’t that what he is critizing Bush for doing in Iraq, not going after Sadam without other nations like France and Germany in support? I know, he is not talking about going to war but the principle is still the same, a coalition of nations.
    IMO Kerry has to be ignorant or stupid, or maybe both. /R

  28. pardon me; not discussed but rather disgust

  29. John Stewart has his tongue deep in Kerry’s ass.

    Bush didn’t have to be strong. Kerry boxed well, but I wouldn’t call it an assrape. Kerry had his share of annoyed-looking eyerolls, not to mention that he still hasn’t shed the Iraq position thing.

    The bit on nuclear proliferation knocked the wheels off Pres Bush.

    No, I think it showed a bit of Kerry’s colors. You have to deal with Kim on a diplomatic basis on par with how you’d deal with a terrorist. Kerry’s solution on N.K. is to cave to his first demand and teach Iran you can manipulate the U.S. with nukes. That would only end badly.

    As far as Russia goes, I’d rather have Condoleeza Rice in the administration.

    Kerry was more impressive than I thought he’d be, but I don’t buy his I-have-a-plan routine. Especially not on the overall subject of the debate. In the domestic debate is where Kerry might score some points with me.

  30. I think the guy who put his daughters on a leash lost the debate.

  31. “Well, isn’t that what he is critizing Bush for doing in Iraq, not going after Sadam without other nations like France and Germany in support?”

    Really, Bush could have hung him with that.

    Also, “Do you support bilateral or multilateral talks?” Kerry – “Both.”

    Really a misstep for Bush not to keep pounding away at him for that after his early points I mentioned. These things follow a power rule. After his first 2 good rebuttals, 2 more would have really woon the debate for him. Especially considering his theme was that Kerry changed positions…

    Also, watching some of the post debate coverage, what the hell is the point of talking to the campaign advisors for either candidtate? These people are just way beyond the pale nowadays. What useful thing could they possibly say?

  32. This from DRUDGE

    Unbeknownst to Kerry adviser Mike McCurry, a C-SPAN camera quietly followed McCurry as he found Kerry adviser Joe Lockhart on Spin Alley floor and asked him his impression of the debate. Lockhart candidly said to McCurry , ?The consensus is it was a draw.?

    I love CSPAN

  33. Rick Laredo,

    Kerry specifically said that his inclusion of bilateral talks with North Korea would not supplant the multilateral talks. Now, whether this is possible or worthwhile are certainly points open to debate. But it’s simply not correct to say that he advocated abandoning the multi-lateral talks, and therefore there’s no contradiction.

  34. Interesting debate, Kerry won, and what the hell was that thing hanging off of President Bush’s nose????

  35. Also I was hoping Bush would have pointed out that Kyoto sucked. I think a lot of commonfolk got swept away by the notion of it being some kind of environmental cure-all.

  36. FYI, Rick Laredo, the other four members of the five part coalition (China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia) all want us to engagein bilateral talks with the North.

    But as we all know, issues about possible intercontinental nuclear war are primarily important because of how they affect the presidential race.

    JDM, “He can’t really make the case that he should be the president without differentiating himself.” I think the North Korea disagreement helped Kerry. 99% of Americans have no idea whether they favor bilateral or six part negotiations. I sure don’t. So the primary effect of that segment was to draw a contrast between the two candidates, thus achieving some differentiation on issues of defense and foreign policy.
    As

  37. fyodor-

    It is foolish to think Kim would continue multilateral talks. He has been after bilateral talks for two administrations.

  38. Kerry’s record brings out a homicidal rage in you? Well, Bush’s record is doing that for quite a few middle-easterners right now. Thing is, they’re acting on it.

    Fox News pundits are soooo funny. One of the first comments after the debate was in regards to Kerry’s tan and overly tight facial skin (gasp…botax?) and how W doesn’t need any of that….he’s happy being unpolished. Forget the merits of their arguments, we’ll focus on other irrelevent drivel, as usual. Wankers.

  39. Kerry’s record brings out a homicidal rage in you? Well, Bush’s record is doing that for quite a few middle-easterners right now. Thing is, they’re acting on it.

    Fox News pundits are soooo funny. One of the first comments after the debate was in regards to Kerry’s tan and overly tight facial skin (gasp…botax?) and how W doesn’t need any of that….he’s happy being unpolished. Forget the merits of their arguments, we’ll focus on other irrelevent drivel, as usual. Wankers.

  40. joe, you are sooooooo full of shit. Were you watching the debat or jerking off over Kerry’s european looks.
    He said he would go it alone with North Korea.
    Fool. /R

  41. Kerry’s record brings out a homicidal rage in you? Well, Bush’s record is doing that for quite a few middle-easterners right now. Thing is, they’re acting on it.

    Fox News pundits are soooo funny. One of the first comments after the debate was in regards to Kerry’s tan and overly tight facial skin (gasp…botax?) and how W doesn’t need any of that….he’s happy being unpolished. Forget the merits of their arguments, we’ll focus on other irrelevent drivel, as usual. Wankers.

  42. nic-

    You must be patient, as a non-profit Reason could only afford to rent my mothers five year old mac to run their server.

  43. I believe the word “assrape” was used

    Can you say Assrape II?

    John Stewart has his tongue deep in Kerry’s ass.

    Geez you guys, in a hundred years someone’s probably gonna use this stuff for examples in his/her Doctoral dissertation: “The over-arching sado-sexual themes of American polity in the early
    21st century”

  44. “FYI, Rick Laredo, the other four members of the five part coalition (China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia) all want us to engagein bilateral talks with the North.”

    Of course they do. That’s a good indication that we not do so.

    ” I think the North Korea disagreement helped Kerry.”

    Possibly, but I was talking about Iraq, where he didn’t really offer anything convincing. Most people probably turned off the debate by the time NK came up, those who didn’t are likely to not care as much as they do about Iraq. Bush may have been helped by the NK stuff by sounding reasonably knowledgeable, and appearing to support mulitlateralism.

  45. I only saw part of it before taking my wife out to dinner for her birthday and spending enough money to buy a toilet seat for the Pentagon.

    But in the part I saw, Kerry failed to articulate his nuanced position on Iraq. I’m willing to believe, at least for the sake of argument, that he in fact has a consistent position. However, he has done a poor job of articulating a consistent position, and in the parts that I saw he didn’t do much better.

    I don’t claim to know the mind of every undecided voter out there, but I doubt they want somebody who at least appears to be as undecided as them.

    (Yes joe, I know, once all of the nuances are put in context it all makes sense. The problem is that Kerry isn’t putting it together for the audience, or at least he wasn’t during the part that I saw.)

  46. What useful thing could they possibly say?

    The debate sucked overall. I think the 35-page rule book was designed to keep the pot from being stirred too much. So instead of making it interesting, they keep pounding out the same old messages and then let some of the fluffers in on the action at the end. Somebody else in here had it pegged I think…they were putting together footage for commercials.

  47. Rick Laredo,

    You can’t even tell “joe” from “fyodor”! And even your sophomoric invective is lame! I know what I saw. At least Frobenius addressed a valid issue.

  48. I didn’t watch the debate. Unlike Joe L., I’m not going to start making things up.

  49. I think the guy who put his daughters on a leash lost the debate.

    Lynndie England for President in 2020!

  50. II think that Kerry probably did himself more good. He gave folks reason to believe that he is (a little) more anti Iraq war from this point on than Bush is. On the other hand, he also reminded us how terrible he is on other issues. And why in the Hell didn’t Bush blast him when brought up the Global Warming Treaty BS? Oh yeah, cause Bush is Bush.

    I’m so glad that we have: http://www.badnarik.org/ to vote for.

  51. To amplify the point in the Addendum, NBC’s panel of “undecideds” unanimously picked Kerry as the winner. (I didn’t watch it myself, so I can’t say.)

  52. I think Vodkapundit nailed the scoring, giving Bush a B- on content and a C+ on delivery, Kerry a B- on content and a B on delivery. Neither was impressive; Kerry gets a mild win on points; and bizarrely enough, substance really mattered and was relatively clear.

    I expect to vote for Bush, but I am no fan of either candidate. I’m most pissed at the Libertarians for nominating a loon this year so for the first time in my life I can’t justify a third-party vote.

  53. I couldn’t remotely in good conscience vote for either Bush or Kerry.

    Rick Barton,

    Because, Bush can’t appear to be “soft” on the environment?

  54. One good thing did happen today though; the House defeated the Marraige Amendment.

  55. He shouldn’t be able to rely on the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” The bar shouldn’t be low. He should be held to the standard of a President

    So he should get drunk, bang his secretary, and fall down a flight of stairs? I think you’re forgetting what schmucks most of our Presidents have been.

  56. So, who won the debate?

    As we’ve learned, polled viewers thought Kerry did better. The media thinks Kerry did better. Liberal bloggers seem a lot happier with Kerry’s performance than conservative bloggers are with Bush’s. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Kerry will win, but the race isn’t over yet. The GOP was able to convince the press that Bush won the first debate against Gore even though viewers preferred Gore immediately after the event. They’ll probably try to pull a similar trick again, and it’ll be interesting to see which insignificant detail they’ll choose to obsess over.

    This time, you see, they have one big disadvantage when compared to 2000. The media (and public with them) didn’t sour on Gore’s performance based on anything specific Gore said. The GOP’s main line of attack was that Gore kept sighing. This time around it was their guy who had the annoying habits. He blinked a lot. He took long pauses in apparent confusion over what he was about to say. He fidgeted about. He looked petulant when criticized by Kerry. Above all, he smirked. Oh boy, did Dubya ever smirk. Kerry supporters should say a silent prayer – if they weren’t godless atheists – to whoever had the bright idea of showing both candidates on a split screen.

    To summarize: on content Kerry was slightly ahead, but on presentation he trounced Dubya big time.

  57. Bush looked like a sixth grader getting in the ring with a grown man. I cannot imagine him sitting across the table from Blaire, Putin or Chirac or any other world leader and coherently presenting the US position on anything. He is an embarrassment and I cringe to think he represents the greatest country on earth.

  58. Kerry did not win. He was condesending througout and I think ot caught in a few of his flip-flop half truths that he can pull off so well on the campaign trail. Bush sure did not pull off a victory here, but Kerry looked exactly what he was; a liberal elite who does what politics need him to do.

  59. “Lynndie England for President in 2020!”

    With Oliver North as a running mate. that would be consistent republican politics.

  60. What I find amusing is that the passions about the presidential elections greatly outweigh the actual influence of the presidency. As Dan astutely observes, America has survived an astonishing range of dolts in the Oval Office. Somehow America has survived. Another point, both Kerry and Bush are essentially political centrists. As for the debates, if America elected leaders by oratorical skills, Jesse Jackson would be president. Finally, anyone who uses the phrase “assrape” with reference to a debate is 1) taking things much too seriously and 2) would benefit from a more robust (and less prison oriented) vocabulary.

  61. “maxed-missages”

  62. “joe, you are sooooooo full of shit. Were you watching the debat or jerking off over Kerry’s european looks.
    He said he would go it alone with North Korea.
    Fool. /R”

    Touchy, touchy, Richard!

    Don’t worry, there’s always next time.

    BTW, it’s 9 hours later, and there still hasn’t been as post giving Bush the victory that doesn’t include references to “European looks,” “liberal elites,” or some other rightist mantra.

  63. I don’t think I saw an ass beating, but maybe I was looking for certain things.

    Bush was strong when he started down the road of ‘if you think this is all about Afghanistan and arresting OBL, you don’t understand the nature of the conflict.’ He was also strong when he plainly said that defence = offence. Not a popular message in these parts, but very true nonetheless. He was weak when he pounded flip floppery. He should have stuck to the idea that his vision of the WoT is comprehensive while Kerry’s is wishful thinking. That plays well on the predisposition of people toward liberals anyway.

    Kerry is getting credit for some good stuff that I though was completely absurd. In answer to what Bush hadn’t done to get allies on board, we get ‘he didn’t hold a summit.’ Are you kidding me? He responded pretty well to the flip flop charge at most points, but he can’t seem to avoid trying to have it both ways. If the problem was that the president ‘deceived us into war’, and Kerry was looking at the same intelligence and agreed that there was a threat, the character of the deception is pretty thin. “He said we would go to war as a last resort!” That isn’t a lie, it is a matter of perspective. He posits N. Korea as a more real threat, and indicates that development wouldn’t have happened on his watch. Is he going to invade N. Korea? What was that comment about ‘there are weapons of mass destruction flowing across the borders’, anyway? The bit about ‘outsourcing’ the capture of OBL?

    The proliferation card in Russia was Kerry’s strongest point by far.

    Overall, it was pretty dismal. Bush looked more comfortable to me on screen (I gather not everyone agrees). Kerry responded effectively to charges of flip floppery, which Bush hit on too often without effect.

    The best part of the debate, surprisingly for me, was the bit when Kerry said that Bush concerned him because he doesn’t adapt to new information, while Bush said that the Kerry gives of a vibe of having no will to finish a job if it gets hard. I think both sides made their case well in that arena, and it sets up the differences nicely.

  64. Gadfly, I’d rather have a total goofball sitting at the table with Putin if the goofball’s policies are clear and understandable. It also helps when the policies are derived in an honest attempt to do what’s best for the country and not as a campaign tactic. Kerry looked like a leader last night but he didn’t sound like one. You can’t convince me that any of his positions are anything but political opportunism, and subject to change on short notice.

  65. “Bush was strong when he started down the road of ‘if you think this is all about Afghanistan and arresting OBL, you don’t understand the nature of the conflict.’ He was also strong when he plainly said that defence = offence…He was weak when he pounded flip floppery.”

    Of course he was strongest tooting his own horn, and looked bad attacking Kerry. He’s a sitting president. Sitting presidents win by running rose garden campaign, being presidential, and making the opponent seem unpresidential. Talking about Kerry means getting off his high pedestal, and implicitly conceding that the challenger is his equal. And on equal ground, George W. Bush cannot beat John Kerry. Not on substance, not on style, unless they’re sitting on haybales at a barn dance.

    But what’s Bush going to do? Pound his record? Pretend Mount Kerrymore isn’t presidential? No, he doesn’t get to run a rosegarden campaign, he doesn’t get to pretend Kerry is less able or qualified or ready. So he’s forced to fight it out.

    Anyone else notice that Kerry got away with saying he doesn’t have “as much experience as President?” He doesn’t have ANY experience as president, and the fact that no one jumped on this, in the spin or on this thread or in the debate itself, just demonstrates the lack of a stature gap.

  66. I listened to the first part on the radio, after watching the preliminary stuff on C-Span: welcoming the audience, Jim Lehrer berating the audience “DON’T MAKE A SOUND!!!!”. Listening to the rules, you knew it was going to be pointless: no questions for the other candidate, 2 minutes, speaking extemporaneously. On the radio, the biggest impression I got was that Bush would be a radio producer’s worst nightmare. Dead air every answer. But then, I only heard the first few questions. I checked back on TV a few times later, and it was still more of the same. Not interesting, nothing new came out of this debate, like nothing ever does. Sadly, there are people whose minds will be made up by a dog and pony show such as this, when these guys don’t say anything different than the rest of the time, based on how they looked or what they did, without any actual looking into the background of their policies. Sad.

    So… does anyone know how to write-in votes on these newfangledy touch screen machines…?

  67. this is weird:
    http://iemweb.biz.uiowa.edu/graphs/graph_Pres04_WTA.cfm

    the IEM had *both* guys go up.

    I only caught bits in pieces but what I saw looked relatively even. Kerry may have been a better orator, but I still think he didn’t offer much in the way of a clear, consistent position. I did hear him talk about a “rush to war” over and over again… didn’t we, like, take about 9 months to “rush” to war?

    Bush was Bush. At times ok, at times appallingly inept.

    My regard for both candidates remains solidly on the “bleah” level.

  68. An old but appropriate baseball analogy: home runs are really fun to see but a steady stream of singles can win the game too.

    Leading up to the debates the pundits and other talking heads argued (in the majority) that Kerry had to win big. That’s crap. There are five weeks left till the election. A series of solid performances, based on a consistent defensible message, will put him past Bush. He began last night with a good performance. Simply being on the stage with POTUS makes him more Presidential in some people’s minds. Two more good debate performances will have him well on his way. Following up with a steady, coherent, and crisp message is essential.

    The nice thing about home runs is that they come from a single swing of the bat. With the singles approach it takes a lot of them.

    Mind you, I’m not wishing or hoping for a Kerry win; just saying its still possible, that’s all.

  69. Also, Bush seemed really pissed off that someone would be allowed to say mean things to him in public. I don’t think the “How DARE you” shtick at the beginning was entirely strategic; it was also Bush’s honest emotional response to having his policies openly attacked, and it made his “you’re undermining the troops” argument seem like a rationalization of his own personal offense.

    Which just plays into Kerry’s “The only people who were fired were the people who were right” line of attack.

  70. After sleeping on this, I’ve come to a conclusion. In order to tell who won you must turn the sound off on your t.v. That way you’ll be distracted by the, “blah, blah, blah…: that both candidates spew forth. Under this metric it appears that Kerry came out ahead.

    It says nothing about the merits of the candidates, but if they wanted anything else they’d have a real debate.

  71. Hank, your worship of honesty instead of performance leads me to believe you would be a real Jimmy Carter fan. Bush’s “honest attempt” at doing what’s best for this country has left us with unprecedented debt, bogged down in an unnecessary war we can’t get out of and our world prestige has dropped down to about that of North Korea. Maybe, and I do mean maybe, he was honestly trying to do good but if so, he’s been a miserable failure at it.

  72. An old but appropriate baseball analogy: home runs are really fun to see but a steady stream of singles can win the game too.

    Looking at the MLB teams heading to the playoffs, all of them are homerun leaders except for the dodgers, who excel in pitching and a strong defense. Meanwhile, singles hitting teams such as the Mariners, with Ichiro, are dead last. Bush’s old team, Tex Rangers, just got eliminated, but led the league in homeruns.

  73. ESPN: Right on. We are at the end of the season and Kerry has one game to win and we’re in the late innings. A home run is high risk: swing really hard and hope for the best, if you miss you’re done.

    He needs at bats and the momentum that comes from stringing one hit after another.

    And now I’m done with tortured sports analogies.

    🙂

  74. I think Jimmy Carter won the debate.

    Did you see him explain his North Korea policy? Constructive engagement. It has worked. According to reports the Norks have constructed nuclear weapons. That is pretty constructive.

    I wonder if Carter plans the same sort of drill with Iran?

    Jeez. Some one is poking me in the ribs and saying Carter wasn’t in the debates. Ya coulda fooled me.

    Well OK. Kerry wants to give Iran nuclear fuel if they really, really, promise not to make nuclear weapons. Now what I want to know is: is it a real promise or a North Korean type promise?

    Maybe Carter’s #1 advisor Michael Moore can tell us. He seems to be up on these things.

  75. I think that we live in an age where the actual debate performance will matter little compared with which campaign can do the best job decontextualizing their opponent’s responses by dissecting little sound bites and spin doctoring to make their opponent look weak, devious, wishy-washy, or incompetent.

    The Republicans launched into this tactic immediately after the debate had ended.

  76. “The Republicans launched into this tactic immediately after the debate had ended.”

    Right, just the Republicans. The first spin doctor I saw was a Democrat, trying to make some absurd claim that Bush lied in the debate about Saddam being behind 9/11. I haven’t heard that since, so someone higher up the chain must’ve realized how assanine that was, and put the kibosh on it.

  77. but if they wanted anything else they’d have a real debate.

    I think that’s the heart of the matter. We didn’t get a real debate. We got a farce that was probably designed to play to a draw.

    The Republicans launched into this tactic immediately after the debate had ended.

    So did the Democrats, what’s your point? Kerry’s responses can be decontextualized more easily because his positions are more nuanced than Bush’s, but the effort was the same on both sides.

  78. “We got a farce that was probably designed to play to a draw.”

    Yes, by design, this debate was supposed to be a draw. The Republican negitiators managed to eliminate pretty much everything – back and forth between the candidates, direct questions, long opportunities to speak, a noisy audience that could seem genuinely excited or obviously phony in their applause – that could allow an advantage to be gained or pressed. Yesterday afternoon, Democrats were complaining that they’d been “rolled,” that the Bush team had gotten “everything they wanted.”

    And Kerry won anyway.

  79. n’t we, like, take about 9 months to “rush” to war?

    To Kerry, the “rush” was in our not waiting for Europe to let loose our leash. Kerry wants to trust the U.N. to keep the world secure. This position is based solely on theory; there is no reason to believe the U.N. is actually capable of doing so.

    Does anyone actually believe that the insurgency would have been at all mitigated by the U.N. being involved? We’d still have a noticeable civilian and U.S. body count, damaged/destroyed mosques, oil equipment burning in the desert (and Kerry doesn’t think we should protect them apparently), and as usual we’d still be footing the bill.

  80. I think that we live in an age where the actual debate performance will matter little compared with which campaign can do the best job decontextualizing their opponent’s responses by dissecting little sound bites and spin doctoring to make their opponent look weak, devious, wishy-washy, or incompetent.

    I agree. The real purpose of a debate is to give your opponent nothing to work with. Bush scored admirably on that account by sticking to a simple and consistent message. I don’t like all of his message, I don’t think he’s honest about a lot of things, but I think he’s a strong campaigner.

    Am I the only person out there going “Shit! My lesser evil lost!”?

  81. ESPN:

    Defence wins championships?

  82. “The real purpose of a debate is to give your opponent nothing to work with.”

    I agree with this completely. In both a real debate, and the one last night. Watching, I was amazed at how many opportunities Kerry actually gave Bush. Thinking about it the day after, it may not be important that Bush missed them last night, since Rove’s wrecking crew is sure to turn them on him. Saying this is easier because Kerry is more nuanced is generous. He really took a pretty shaky position on the key issue, Iraq, last night.

  83. I recall feeling the same way when I watched Mike Dukakis and Al Gore in debates, JDM. “He should have just said this,” “his opponent left himself wide open on that.”

    But I’ve come to realize, the blatant blunders I saw in the Republicans’ performances, and the brilliant zingers I composed for my preferred candidates, would have played brilliantly in an Ann Arbor Semiotics study group, and completely alienated everyone else. I’m sure Kerry’s positions looked very shaky to you and rst. But I suspect you’re looking with your heart, not your head.

  84. I agree with Pete and Bill on the France and Germany bit.

    I was and am adamantly opposed to the Iraq war. But it’s going to be pretty hard to persuade countries that opposed the war from the beginning to join it, when (at least part of the time) you seem to be saying that it was a mistake and a diversion from the real war on terror. Kerry’s caught between a rock and a hard place about taking a stand on whether the war was a mistake. He’s got to run against Bush’s record of taking us to war unnecessarily, but if he out and out says it was unnecessary, why in the world would any new countries want to help out.

    The sad truth is, Iraq is a clusterfuck, and there’s no way to fix it. But you can’t get elected saying this. If Kerry does get elected, he’ll be a one-termer for failing to fix it.

  85. I don’t have a heart.

    Kerry has conceded that we need to stay in Iraq, and needs to convince people that he’s the better man to lead the war. Then he repeats several times what a horrible mistake it is. His rationale for why he would be better is that he’d be better at gathering allies. Meanwhile, he’s called the nations that are participating a coalition of the coerced and bribed.

    Now, I know you don’t think that means anything, but I expect that most people will have a hard time thinking the best leader for any enterprise is the one who doesn’t believe in it.

  86. “The real purpose of a debate is to give your opponent nothing to work with.”

    Too bad, then, that he has four years worth of record for Kerry to work with.

  87. I realize the inauthenticity, foolishness, and hopeless inconsistency of Kerry’s positions are transparently obvious to YOU, JDM. But the lesser beings don’t seem to feel the same way. Six million of them, according to Zogby, went into last night not knowing who to vote for, and some 44-45 million went in convinced that Kerry would make the better president. That is more than half the electorate.

    This being an unjust world, Randroid ubermen such as yourself aren’t allowed to terminate at will those lives unworthy of life, so if you’re going to attempt to analyze how the debate, and the larger “debate,” are playing in the electorate, you’re going to have to avoid the mistake of assuming that we under-men share your innate superiority of discernment.

  88. “Too bad, then, that he has four years worth of record for Kerry to work with.”

    It’s a good thing Kerry managed to spend 20 years in the senate without attaching his name to any significant piece of legislation, then.

    “Does anyone actually believe that the insurgency would have been at all mitigated by the U.N. being involved? We’d still have a noticeable civilian and U.S. body count, damaged/destroyed mosques, oil equipment burning in the desert (and Kerry doesn’t think we should protect them apparently), and as usual we’d still be footing the bill.”

    I agree. I don’t see how Kerry can say that he would have gone to war but he somehow would have waved the magic international wand that would make everything better. Iraq is a clusterfuck, as aptly noted. There isn’t any way it would not be a clusterfuck at this point… I don’t think anyone will buy Kerry’s implication that it would have gone better with him in office. Howard Dean’s position is much more tenable.

    I don’t know if he really made the case that he’d be better than Bush or do anything different except ask for “summits”… I mean, seriously. Friggin’ summits.

  89. If it’s any consolation, Joe, were the American president elected by the French, John Kerry would be the clear favorite.

  90. ESPN: Defence wins championships?

    If your opponent cannot score, they cannot win.

  91. Anyone want to help joe mop up his own drool? His guy had a good showing last night, and today an invigorated joe finds validation even in points not argued. Yikes.

    After last night he probably believes the Red Sox will win the Series, too.

  92. “Six million of them, according to Zogby, went into last night not knowing who to vote for, and some 44-45 million went in convinced that Kerry would make the better president. That is more than half the electorate.”

    Right, which is why the Republicans will try to play up the obvious inconsistency, and try to convince them.

    While I have to plead guilty to being an uberman (my preferred terms are actually man-god, god-man, or, if you like, demi-god) I’m not a *Randroid* uberman. Plus, my uberness is hardly in play here. It’s a fairly simple case to make.

  93. Sounds like I made the correct decision by listening to classical music and reading a novel instead of watching/listening to the debate.

  94. “It’s a good thing Kerry managed to spend 20 years in the senate without attaching his name to any significant piece of legislation, then.”

    Because we all know that getting things named after yourself is the best criteria for judging one’s contribution while in office. Senator Byrd, for example.

    “After last night he probably believes the Red Sox will win the Series, too.” Well, this IS the year.

  95. The IEM seems to think Kerry won.

  96. Did anyone catch Kerry saying that the policy of pre-emption was a Cold War policy?

    My humble understanding is that CONTAINMENT was our Cold War policy. Otherwise, wouldn’t we have nuked the USSR?

    My uneducated assessment is that Kerry probably won, but barely. Since style is much more important that substance in these things, I think, unfortuneately, the messages will be lost on most people. Joe Sixpack votes for an image, so don’t confuse him with the facts.

    BTWFWIW, Kerry’s policy on North Korea is perhaps one of the most Pollyanna-ish things I’ve ever heard any politician say, ever. He is completely wrong, if he actually meant what he said.

  97. I’m sure Kerry’s positions looked very shaky to you and rst. But I suspect you’re looking with your heart, not your head.

    Not shaky, but ill-defined, lacking the ability to gain any traction beyond his ability to pronounce those ill-defined positions forcefully. And it’s not about heart. I have no allegiance to Bush; my “heart” is with a loss for both he and Kerry. My head knows that will not happen. Bush is simply my lesser evil.

    That is more than half the electorate.

    No, no no no no. Raw numbers do not the electorate make. 20 million people in California is different than 20 million people in Maryland.

  98. “Did anyone catch Kerry saying that the policy of pre-emption was a Cold War policy?

    My humble understanding is that CONTAINMENT was our Cold War policy. Otherwise, wouldn’t we have nuked the USSR?”

    This goes to the heart of why Bush’s “pre-emption” doctrine is mislabelled. A pre-emptive attack is one you launch in order to beat the other guy to the punch. Inherent in this concept is that the other guy is about to punch you. This was our nuclear policy towards the Soviets – if they were about to launch an attack, we would have nuked their launch pads.

    Bush has changed this policy. First, it was referred to as “Preventive War,” but later got labelled as “Pre-emptive War,” when it is in fact no such thing. Bush’s policy isn’t to hit people who are about to punch us first; it is to hit people who have the capacity to punch us, and who could, at some point in the future, decide to do it. If this policy were in place during the Cold War, we would have nuked Russia in about 1950.

  99. “This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That’s democracy for you.”

  100. who have the capacity to punch us, and who could, at some point in the future, decide to do it.

    Joe that describes the big 5, NATO, Japan, NK, and Canada, to name just a few. Hussein took the diplomatic stance of being the enemy of the United States. Notwithstanding the history between the U.S. and Iraq, or the international community’s sanction profiteering, or the fact that 9/11 demonstrated that we were vulnerable to state-sponsored terrorism (whether or not Iraq had anything to do with 9/11), he had the capacity and the desire. His stance and behavior made Iraq the default target of whatever our next military move was going to be.

    Kerry has Bush on a technicality – Europe vetoed. This is ok with me; I didn’t ask anyone to give me my opinion in ’92, and Chirac’s head-bobbing condescension didn’t change it in ’02, either. This festering situation in Iraq was the result of the international community not getting the job done – because the international community has no standing or mechanism by which to complete a task of any kind – and Kerry made it clear he wants that tradition to continue.
    Pre-emptive, preventative, whatever. I call it 12 years overdue.

  101. Hey, rst, yeah, 20 million people is different in California than in Maryland, since ~75% of that 20 million is in the coveted ‘cemetery vote’. 😉

  102. “His stance and behavior made Iraq the default target of whatever our next military move was going to be.”

    You prove my point. The invasion had nothing to do with pre-empting an attack. No such attack was foreseen. Iraq was just a target of opportunity, and Bush is full of it (no, I’m not going to say “the strongest word” ;-)) when he claims the attack was pre-emptive.

  103. No such attack was foreseen.

    Such an attack was foreseen. It was the sense both of Congress and of the administration that Hussein had the capacity and intent to finance an attack on U.S. soil just as at least Afghanistan under the Taliban (Taleban?) had done, and likely other countries as well. Hussein had the money, having turned sweet profits from the sanctions, and the desire, having publicly declared Iraq to be an enemy of the United States. Go after the rhetoric all you like, but the rhetoric is meant to steer stupid people into a line. Kind of like “Bush lied, people died” is designed to do. Getting down to the granularity of which adjectives Bush used in speeches is strictly for political purposes. As nuggets in any kind of fact finding or intellectual discussion, that debate is useless.

  104. i.e., in case it is not clear, the reasons I personally supported a resumption of war in Iraq, and the reasons I think the government had, are different. I don’t mind this difference, because I’m a little bit Macchiavellian.

  105. and I meant to say p.s.

  106. A rather nuanced position, I’d say, rst. Are you French?

  107. Are you French?

    No. I think I made it clear that my post did not contain my position, rather what I thought to be a part of the government’s. I’ve made my position clear elsewhere.

  108. Bush lost big time. He looked like a petulant little boy arguing with his dad. All he did was whine about how hard the job is and I?m strong, I?m strong, as if repeating I?m strong would make it true. Pathetic little man.

  109. All he did was whine about how hard the job is and I?m strong, I?m strong

    As if repeating “he was wrong, he was wrong” made Kerry’s position any stronger?

  110. “Because we all know that getting things named after yourself is the best criteria for judging one’s contribution while in office. Senator Byrd, for example.”

    Attaching his name as in writing or sponsoring something, but if you want to play semantic games, ok. Kerry’s record of craven political opportunism isn’t exactly a stunning counterweight to Bush’s crappy record.

  111. “A pre-emptive attack is one you launch in order to beat the other guy to the punch. Inherent in this concept is that the other guy is about to punch you. ”

    But I thought we had a policy in the Cold War of not launching a first attack ( a policy the USSR never adopted). So the pre-emption thing doesn’t fit. We would simply have been responding according to the concept of M.A.D.

  112. But I thought we had a policy in the Cold War of not launching a first attack ( a policy the USSR never adopted). So the pre-emption thing doesn’t fit. We would simply have been responding according to the concept of M.A.D

    My recollection is that the Soviets announced a policy of never launching nukes first, and we explicitly did not (since we relied on the threat of nuclear attack, by us, to keep the Soviet Army out of western Europe).

    I could be misremembering, though. It’s a moot point, since everyone knew that promises to “never attack first” were horseshit and therefore not really worthy of attention.

  113. No Dan, I thought it was the other way around.

    I thought that the Soviets reserved the right for first attack, while we claimed we would only respond to attack. I could be remembering wrong, but I don’t think so.

    It seems to mee that this was a big part of the brouhaha over the MX missle and expansion of the nuke sub fleet. In essense the Soviets didn’t like the fact that in spite of a stated policy of “retaliation only” we were building first strike capable weapons.

    Anyway it doesn’t matter now but if I’m right Kerry should absolutely have known better than to state what he did.

    At any rate, he won on style points alone, and we’ll see what takes place in the next debate. Less peopple will watch and it will be a more open format so it should be a lot more entertaining

  114. Jesus…

    Don’t drink and type. You all know what I meant.

  115. I believe the US reserved the right to retaliate against a conventional attack with nuclear weapons.

  116. huskermet,

    If you are talking strictly about using nuclear force, you are wrong and Dan is right. The USSR expressly vowed not to introduce nuclear weapons into a conflict and the US refused to make such a promise. I am quite certain of that. This was consistent with the USSR having a much larger military. Nuclear force was the only military deterrence we had.

    OTOH, I am also pretty sure the US did vow not to initiate a conflict of any sort against the USSR. Not sure what the USSR said about that, although I would guess they said the same thing, that they would not attack us or our NATO pact allies.

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