Limb, Sawing, Crash

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By Monday I expect solid poll evidence of a substantial bump for John Kerry coming off of his dismantling of George W. Bush in Miami. It is not that Kerry was that good, but that Bush was that bad.

"Last night the president looked very uncomfortable answering questions," is how Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) put it, and I have to think most people, in their most apolitical hearts, would agree. Bush seemed only ready to offer his standard stump assert-and-smirk routine.

Kerry eventually noticed this and began to throw a blizzard of sometimes disconnected factoids and arguments toward the prez. Better discipline on his part—or even a real debate debate—and Bush might've imploded.

I've always hated the upcoming "townhall" format, precisely for the loony-tunes, C-SPAN Ultra queries it generates. Bush tosses that smirk at the wrong laid-off guy's trade jeremiad, and watch out.

NEXT: Airline I.D. Requirements Do Exist...

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  1. If Bush had more experience answering hard or hostile questions, maybe he’d be better at it.

    But from Karen Hughes keeping him in a box during the 2000 campaign, to Karl Rove scripting every event, hand picking every audience, and avoiding press conferences like the plague, the Bush team seems to have gone out of their way to make sure Bush hasn’t had enough practice at this to be any good at it.

    The whole point of their strategy was for the race to be over at this point, so the debates and retail politicking wouldn’t matter, like in 1996. Well, it didn’t work.

  2. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6149884/

    They “cleansed” the coverage in Russia of any criticism of Putin.

  3. joe, do you think the Edwards-Cheney debate comes at a good time to help Kerry’s momentum?

  4. Ruthless,

    Edwards can’t do any worse than Adm. Stockdale (though admittedly Stockdale was far brighter than his TV appearance made him out to be – he just wasn’t a very polished speaker).

  5. Jason, I’m thinking, if anyone watches, Edwards should dance on Cheney’s chest, to the same tune Kerry used to dance on Dubya’s.
    I could be even more of a mismatch?

  6. I think Cheney will do a bit better than Bush because he’s been working the crowds a lot more.

    However, if he launches into one of his Iraq/Al Qaeda conspiracy theories it could cause some problems about unity of message.

    Bush failed to challenge Kerry when the latter cited the 9/11 Committee’s findings that Hussein and co. were not involved in the attack.

    BTW, did anyone catch GWB’s comment that Kerry had a “pre-September 10th mentality”???

  7. I’m optimistic about the VP devate, Ruthless, but not cocky. I’m much more confident about the next Kerry/Bush debate.

    Dick Cheney was brilliant in the 2000 debate. The grumpy old cuss kicked Joe Lieberman’s ass. Dick Cheney looks and speaks exactly how a Vice President should look and speak – like a jaded old functionary who knows the business cold, won’t get fooled, and has no time for any cute games or smarmy weasel words. Not an A-list pol, but if his services are ever needed, someone who will capably steer the ship of state during a crisis. This is especially important now, because the president is such a lightweight.

    No one, no one is going to outcharm John Edwards – not even George Bush. Heck, I’d put Edwards up against Clinton. But Cheney has the same anti-charm I like in Kerry. “I’m not here to entertain you kids. We’ve got a lot to take care of, now settle down and let’s get started.” This is the only way to beat someone with the level of political skills posessed by Edwards.

    Fortunately, Edwards is much more than a pretty face. During the primaries, he had both the most charisma, and the most responsible, complete, intelligent policy papers. If it is a particularly substantive debate (which Cheney is probably hoping for, because he can’t hope to paint as many pretty pictures as Edwards), I suspect Cheney might just be unpleasantly suprised by how well Edwards, whose expectations he’s been lowering for six months, can stand up for himself.

  8. Oh, and Edward has the advantage of debating someone with a horrible record. Voting AGAINST releasing Nelson Mandela? Saddam/Bin Ladin conspiracy theories? Halliburton? Nice red meat for the base, but in a national debate, as the incumbant against the challenger?

    As I think about it, I’ve got a lot of respect for Dick Cheney as a debater. His appearances on the Sunday morning shows are always first rate. But he really does have some structural problems stacked against him in this campaign, and John Edwards is not Dan Quayle. Maybe it will be a blowout – but I wouldn’t take my guard down until Cheney’s head is off his shoulders.

  9. I really love listening to Dick Cheney, because, as joe said, he has all the qualities you would want in a vice-president. I also was very impressed by the little I heard of John Edwards in the primaries, when he was speaking off the script, explaining his views. I haven’t ever really cared for his scripted stuff, but that was admittedly targeted to a specific audience which I am no longer a part of. But I do think this debate might be the most interesting, and for me, watchable, seeing as neither of the participants have engendered as much disdain as the ones in last night’s debate.

  10. I just don’t get it. You guys really thought Kerry looked good in the debate?

    How does Kerry’s spewing unrelated factoids give him credit for answering tough questions? Opium in Afghanistan. What? There are WMD streaming across the border every day. What?

    I don’t think Bush looked good, but I can’t see the criteria being used to determine the ass whupping I keep hearing about. What specifically did Kerry do to elicit the glowing reviews?

    I have to say, if that is all he has to do to win, Bush is done indeed.

  11. What’s the format being used for the Cheney/Edwards debate? If it’s townhall or Lincoln-Douglas, I can’t see how Cheney can hope for better than a draw.

  12. Not to be a troll (I swear), but curious to know what you guys think.
    Gallup shows pretty clearly that Kerry won–but all the other indicators still favor Bush on leadership, Iraq, agreed with poll respondent on the issues, believable, and likeable.
    Jeff et al., do you think that these other factors won’t matter, and that Kerry will still see a rise next week? We are in a Bizarro-world where many many people agree on Bush’s mistakes and errors and STILL back him over Kerry, so I am curious if this is another example of craziness:”Kerry spoke more clearly, had more to say, and won the debate, and therefore I am voting for Bush.”

  13. I want to hear more of what joe thinks. Really.

  14. It never fails to amaze me how biases color the perceptions of events. By no means did John Kerry “dismantle” Bush. Ridiculous. He indulged in slightly more articulate versions of his now too familiar Iraq policy waffles; he continued to show himself obsessed with his Viet Nam service; he fell into the “I can persuade allies to help us with the wrong war at the wrong time” trap; and he gave ample fuel to those who fear he will subordinate US interests to European goals (And what the heck IS “the global test”?) Bush called our attention to all of these. I think Kerry was better than usual, but Bush was fine, and as always, came off as a more real, feeling, and likable person than Kerry. There won’t be any “big bump.” You guys are free to see what you want to see, but it just wasn’t there.

  15. I disagree…. I think Cheney lacks quite a bit is what you’re looking for in a VP. First and foremost, your VP should be your political protege, to run for president after your second term and carry on your administration’s policy. Cheney’s not going to do that. Second, someone with Cheney’s experience is bound to have some negative political baggage which inevitably hurts your ticket. If you like his advice, then by all means keep him around in the cabinet somewhere, but while politicking it would make more sense to have someone a little less viscerally unappealing. Colin Powell, for example.

  16. Not to be a troll (I swear), but curious to know what you guys think.
    Gallup shows pretty clearly that Kerry won–but all the other indicators still favor Bush on leadership, Iraq, agreed with poll respondent on the issues, believable, and likeable.
    Jeff et al., do you think that these other factors won’t matter, and that Kerry will still see a rise next week? We are in a Bizarro-world where many many people agree on Bush’s mistakes and errors and STILL back him over Kerry, so I am curious if this is another example of craziness:”Kerry spoke more clearly, had more to say, and won the debate, and therefore I am voting for Bush.”

  17. It never fails to amaze me how biases color the perceptions of events. By no means did John Kerry “dismantle” Bush. Ridiculous. He indulged in slightly more articulate versions of his now too familiar Iraq policy waffles; he continued to show himself obsessed with his Viet Nam service; he fell into the “I can persuade allies to help us with the wrong war at the wrong time” trap; and he gave ample fuel to those who fear he will subordinate US interests to European goals (And what the heck IS “the global test”?) Bush called our attention to all of these. I think Kerry was better than usual, but Bush was fine, and as always, came off as a more real, feeling, and likable person than Kerry. There won’t be any “big bump.” You guys are free to see what you want to see, but it just wasn’t there.

  18. Sorry for the double-post; browser told me it failed to connect.
    (Boy, this really bolsters my “I’m not a troll” claim)

  19. Jack Marshall,

    It never fails to amaze me how biases color the perceptions of events.

    Doesn’t that criticism also apply to you?

  20. Jack Marshall,

    Just out of curiosity, are you immune to the biases that color others’ perceptions? Is it some sort of objective, impartial analysis that Bush “came off as a more real, feeling, and likable person”? Because I thought he came off as not a whole lot better than the mental and emotional equivalent of a spoiled twelve year old. But, even though I think Kerry sucks in many ways as well, I’m probably biased.

  21. “It never fails to amaze me how biases color the perceptions of events.

    Doesn’t that criticism also apply to you?”

    Exactly, and that’s why these debates are such a yawn fest. Every one sees what they want to see. Even Julian Sanchez and Jeff Taylor!

  22. I’m sure all sorts of things are coloring Jeff’s perceptions, but I don’t think a pro-Kerry bias is one of them, given that Jeff (last I heard) plans to hold his nose and vote for Bush.

  23. “We are in a Bizarro-world where many many people agree on Bush’s mistakes and errors and STILL back him over Kerry”

    You can think one person won the debate, and the other should be President. Especially if you can make a better case in your head than Bush can at the podium. Kerry looked better, and spoke better, but what he was saying was the same tired tripe. Did he say anything that’s going to change anyone’s mind?

    Also, why the weird “I won’t develop nuclear bunker busters?” Is that even an issue to anyone? I thought he was trying to appear strong on defense.

  24. A lot of people today asking what the “global test” is. Well, from what Kerry said last night:

    “No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

    “But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you?re doing what you?re doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.”

    I would guess that the global test is probably truth. You don’t start a preemptive war without telling the truth both to the American people and the world about why you are doing it.

    George Bush did.

  25. 40+ minutes of Bush’s rambling rationalizing boiled down to 5 minutes of unadulterated shame:

    http://www.pleasurecaptains.com/favor/howsmall.html

  26. You can think one person won the debate, and the other should be President. Especially if you can make a better case in your head than Bush can at the podium. Kerry looked better, and spoke better, but what he was saying was the same tired tripe. Did he say anything that’s going to change anyone’s mind?

    Judging from the polls it looks like he picked up a few percentage points of the undecideds, but didn’t sway any of Bush’s supporters. He’ll need to take away some of Bush’s existing support if he wants to win, though — we’ll see how they do in the next two debates.

  27. while we analyze, let us not forget *who* has to be influenced by these things — the undecided independents, largely. this is a group that can’t devote attention enough to politics to form a coherent philosophy, much less pick a reliable advocate for it. a large percentage of them will decide which lever to pull when they get in the booth and no sooner. the facile is sure to be their primary determinant. what they say doesn’t matter nearly as much to this crowd as how they say it.

    it’s very hard to argue, from all accounts i’ve heard, that bush “won” the facile aspects of the debate. in fact, kerry appears to have done very well for himself. the bush campaign has tried hard and very successfully to paint kerry as a limp-wristed wet noodle. i would go so far to say that this campaign has been the defining aspect of the race so far.

    kerry did much to dismantle that campaign by appearing very “presidential” — direct, confident, assertive, focused. bush helped him by appearing tired, petulant and scripted. it’s hard to overestimate the importance of kerry putting on that show. now, when bush and cheney accuse him of being some kind of wilting pansy, it is they who look a bit ridiculous and not kerry.

    too early to tell, of course — but the whole contrived affair, shallow as it was, could have been a major turning point.

  28. “Judging from the polls it looks like he picked up a few percentage points of the undecideds”

    Which polls?

  29. I haven’t seen the debate but I heard the whole thing on the car radio — so perhaps that colors my view like radio vs tv viewers for the Nixon-Kennedy debate — but just listening to the debate I thought it was a draw really. And a draw helps Kerry because a lot of people might be really seeing Kerry for the first time and that he can hold his own against Bush will pick him up a couple points.

    The media will inevitably spin this down the last few weeks as a dead heat cause why would anyone wanna watch such bores are Kerry and Bush if it were a blow out

  30. Which polls?

    Well, the Gallup one cited above, for starters. It looks like Kerry improved a little and Bush’s numbers stayed the same. I would interpret that as Kerry picking up some undecided voters.

  31. I saw the debate taped on C-Span with the split-screen. From reading others’ comments, it seems like this split-screen format wasn’t used on all channels. That’s a shame, because having Kerry and Bush side-by-side was an incredible contrast. If Bush had moved the standard lower by which Presidents should be measured with his verbal and physical debating shortcomings, the split-screen view shockingly reminded you of them by the way Kerry carried himself compared to Bush.

    Kerry looked and sounded Presidential. Bush looked and sounded like a buffoon who was in over his head and who constantly and obviously fell back on his talking points when he couldn’t come up with anything original to say. Yes, Kerry threw his talking points in there as well, but he did it a lot more smoothly than Bush.

    Kerry demonstrated that he can think on his feet, while Bush demonstrated that he cannot.

    One of the common themes I’ve seen on various message boards is “can you believe that Bush is President of the United States?”. This is exactly the sentiment I had while I was watching Bush fumble, mumble, and bungle.

    I don’t know how an objective observer can claim that Bush won the debate. He would have had to been discussing his personal successful cure for cancer to overcome his fumbling and stumbling to be considered a winner of this debate.

    Wow, this guy is in over his head.

  32. My first impression about the debate is simple: Kerry did little to alter my opinion that he is a bloviating lawyer/prick. While I have many reasons not to vote for Dubya, watching Kerry wax eloquant is clearly not one of those reasons. All I have to do is imagine which man I would want to have fighting next to me….Kerry strikes me as a coward with a big mouth.

  33. which is fine, gawdamman, but you plainly didn’t get that impression from watching last night. you developed it long before, based on other things you’ve seen or heard or some singular issue, and now see that in everything kerry says or does.

    among the mass of undecideds, who haven’t developed a pre-existing determinant bias, i think it’s plain that kerry’s performance will serve him very well. it should narrow or eliminate the gap between in the next round of polls, i would think, by moving undecideds net to kerry.

  34. Jason Ligon,

    I hear you. Hasn’t been 24-hours and Kerry’s simply decent performance next to Bush’s poor one has already turned into an ass-kick meme. Clearly, even smart people like those who post and respond here are victims of the hype.

    I had the pleasure of watching the debate with a liberal Democrat, a registered Green, and a Schwarzenegger Republican who voted for Bush. Red wine allowed us to co-exist without killing each other (actually, we’re all friends, believe it or not). Our assessment afterward was that Kerry looked better than expected (but hardly inspiring) and that Bush — with all the rich and immediate experience one would expect of a sitting president — looked petulant and uncertain. None of us saw an ass-kicking.

  35. Daniel Montiel,

    Not to be a contrarian (I swear), but who cares what polls say?

  36. “Jeff et al., do you think that these other factors won’t matter, and that Kerry will still see a rise next week?”

    IMHO, changes in voter preference lag the debate results. It takes a few days for “Kerry won the debate” to turn into “Kerry would make a better candidate.”

    BTW, I have criticized John Kerry’s performances before. I’ve called him “just awful,” a “terrible campaigner,” and bemoaned the fact that his limitations as a candidate prevent people from seeing his virtues as a statesman.

    I think that last night, for the first time, a lot of people saw the John Kerry I’ve known for the past 20 years. And his numbers are going to tick up as a result.

  37. A count worth keeping

    (c) A Siegel, McLean, VA

    On September 11, 2001, terrorists struck the United States. The world watched in real time the murder of thousands. In addition to lost lives and devastated families, the fiscal cost has reaches into the trillions of dollars around the world.

    Day 2, September 12, 2001, Le Monde headlines ?We are all Americans?. The world mourns with America. NATO declares Article V ? an attack on an ally allowing mobilization of forces to defeat the enemy. The world is with America. The world is ready to be lead by America to isolate and defeat those who seeking to take down Western society.

    Day 7, September 17, 2001, President George W. Bush stated: “I want justice.? As for Osama bin Laden, ?there’s an old poster out West ‘Wanted, Dead or Alive.'”

    The United States ended Taliban control of Afghanistan. Day 113, New Year’s Day 2002, saw a new government in Afghanistan and victory declared ? even though the country remains incredibly unstable even to today ? but Osama remained wanted dead or alive …

    Day 366, September 11th, 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld spoke at the opening of the memorial for those who died at the Pentagon while Osama remained wanted dead or …

    The Administration turned its attention to Iraq and garnered support through the skillful deployment of words of mass deception. Day 598, May 1st, 2003, the President declared ?Mission Accomplished? yet Osama remained wanted ?

    By Day 731, September 11th, 2003, everyone realized that the mission wasn?t quite accomplished, family members mourned on the second anniversary, yet Osama remained …

    The 60th anniversary of D-Day, June 6th, 2004, was the 1000th day since September 11th. Adolf Hitler remained nothing but ashes of history yet Osama …

    Days 1085, August 30, 2004, the Republican Party begin its celebration in the city that suffered and the Republican National Convention showcased speech after speech lauding the victories in the Global War on Terrorism. Many there smiled with secret glee over the many Republican political victories, yet ?.

    Day 1093, September 7, 2004, the death toll of American service personnel in Iraq passes 1,000. A war fought on the basis of false claims, pursuing a pre-ordained agenda, creating a new nightmare for the United States and the world that turned the focus away from Afghanistan and bin Laden, ?

    September 11th, 2004, is day 1097. Three years after the September 11th attacks, there are more terrorists at large than ever before. George Bush has made Iraq truly the center of the war on terrorism, a viral breeding ground for a new generation of terrorists including tomorrow?s Osama bin Ladens. Don?t expect headlines in Le Monde or elsewhere that ?We are all Americans?, as the Bush Administration?s actions have turned world opinion against Americans ? rather than isolating radical Islamists, they are isolating America. Does it seem that Osama has been forgotten?

    During the Iran Hostage crisis, America counted the days that passed. Every night, ABC?s Nightline prominently reminded America of the ticking clock. This was a count the nation kept in unison. Where are those reminders of Osama bin Laden? Are the only Americans counting today, those mourning their loved ones?

    The President of the United States told America, told the world, that he would bring to justice this terrorist who successfully plotted the murder of thousands. Instead, bin Laden remains at large. How many days have to pass? At the close of day 1149, November 2, 2004, will America have a President-Elect who actually remembers that Osama bin Laden ? and not those who question his pre-conceived notions and offer alternative views ? is the nation?s true enemy?

  38. From one who’s vote will be neither Kerry nor Bush, Kerry made me feel considerably better that we could have a significant improvement soon.

    Sure, he was light on specifics on how to get out of the Iraq swamp, but is it realistic to expect him to do that in 30-120 second sound bites? He certainly had his shit together. W was plain scary with his dee-in-the-headlights imitations–it was like he had a teleprompter on the blink.

  39. I watched the debates, and it was painfull to me. I really like the tax cuts, and am extatic over the “assault weapons” ban expiring.

    I was hoping Bush would do well, that he would sound simple straightforward and comfortable, and that Kerry would sound over-intellectual.

    But I thought Kerry handled himself quite well, and it looked like Bush was not ready for a debate. It looked to me that Kerry handily won the debates.

    Then this morning after thinking about what Kerry actually said, it ocurred to me that, though he expressed himself well. What he actually said was nothing. Everything he actually said contradicted other stuff he said.

    I don’t know how much of my own dislike of Kerry bias affects either of the two opinions I had of the debate.

    And I don’t know how much of the uninformed (from what I see) public will see in Kerry’s answers what I saw.

  40. kwais,
    I’d like to go pub crawling with you in hopes of getting some crumbs off your table.
    You just happen to pop up here every time a stray female-sounding screen name comes across.
    You are smooothe.

    Hey, Tim Cavanaugh, has Hit and Run ever had a “ladies’ night”? (Half-price cyber-drinks)

    joe, just how well do you know Kerry? You have probably said, but I missed it.

  41. Just as a constituent.

  42. For the record, and to backup Jesse, I still plan to vote for Bush as even an idiot who will not raise my taxes is bettr than the wise man who will.

    Specifically Kerry whomped Bush on the FBI, nukes, and turning to Iraq without even finishing the job in Afghanistan.

    And yes, Bush’s split-screen performance was not flattering to say the least. Watch the Bush surrogates over the weekend, they’ll tell the tale.

  43. I warmed up to Kerry based on last nights debate. I thought he had plenty more to say than Bush and he nailed down some good points concerning No Korea. I did feel that Kerry could lend more credibility to the war in Iraq, start correcting the mistake, and hold much more ability to bring in France, Germany, among others, than Bush at this point. I agree with Kerry, I think Bush has made many colossal errors. Of course, I have been anti-war in Iraq, that is my rose tint I suppose. Yet, Kerry has never been someone I could support.

    Bush convinced me that not only does he not read the papers and have others read the news to him, but he really doesn’t call the shots in his administration. I expect much better from Cheney, the real brains. Bush didn’t even look like your average American against a skilled statesman. I have had better debates with random house wives at the grocery store checkout line. Not that I am a good debater myself, but I pictured doing a much better job behind that podium than Bush. But, I hold no anxities over public speaking, either.

    However, living in the state of Washington, its Kerry’s to lose. My vote won’t effect that unless Kerry takes a colossal shit in the next couple of weeks. Maybe Mt St Helens will blow big time come Nov 1st and prevent thousands from voting in the state the next day. Then Washington will be the Florida of 2004!

  44. “For the record, and to backup Jesse, I still plan to vote for Bush as even an idiot who will not raise my taxes is bettr than the wise man who will.”

    JAT,
    Lead my rips.
    Know new Taxes of Evils!
    Speak no weevil!

  45. joe,
    Would you mind running over to Jennifer’s and borrowing a cup of sugar?

  46. Andrew lynch
    “Who cares what the polls say?”
    Well, the original H&R post said “By Monday I expect solid poll evidence…”
    So this H&R entry was talking about the polls. So my question was about the polls. Other people are talking about the undecideds in regards to…(wait for it)…polls.
    See the trend?

    I don’t think I understand your question–unless it was all sarcasm, no substance. In that case, it was very funny.

  47. Ruthless,
    That cindy chick, posted while I was taping. But anyday you want to come bar crawling with me is good. I do pretty well in that regards.

    How did you know I was a dude? Kwais is pretty genger neutral?

    JAT,
    Preach on brother!!! A man that does not debate well that will not rob me of my earnings is better than a man who debates really well that will rob me. I kind of wish Bush were a little more eloquent and could explain himself to the voters and show them Kerry’s true designs.

    Sam
    Isn’t it the bilateral thing that got in the crap sandwich with Korea that we are in now? Didn’t Clintons team try that and end up being hoodwinked by those half nutty North Korean thugs?

  48. Isn’t it the bilateral thing that got in the crap sandwich with Korea that we are in now?

    The deal Carter and Clinton brokered with North Korea was: we give them food and oil, and they promise to claim that they’re not developing nuclear weapons, and we don’t bother confirming that.

    Which, naturally, worked out to: we give them food and oil, and they go ahead and develop nuclear weapons anyway.

    So I’m not sure what “negotiations” we’re supposed to be conducting with North Korea right now. The only practical offer it’s rational to make to them is “We agree not to nuke your shitty little country until it’s a glowing crater, and in exchange you agree to chill the fuck out right the fuck now”.

  49. Kerry took a two point lead in Newsweek’s post-debate poll. That’s a thirteen point swing to Kerry since the Republican convention and an eight point swing since the last Newsweek poll.

    Newsweek’s story also contains some numbers on how people saw the debate:

    Among the three-quarters (74 percent) of registered voters who say they watched at least some of Thursday’s debate, 61 percent see Kerry as the clear winner, 19 percent pick Bush as the victor and 16 percent call it a draw. After weeks of being portrayed as a verbose “flip-flopper” by Republicans, Kerry did better than a majority (56 percent) had expected. Only about 11 percent would say the same for the president’s performance while more than one-third (38 percent) said the incumbent actually did worse that they had expected. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans felt their man out-debated the challenger but a full third (33 percent) say they felt Kerry won.

    Kerry’s perceived victory may be attributed to the fact that, by a wide margin (62 percent to 26 percent), debate watchers felt the senator came across as more confident than the president. More than half (56 percent) also see Kerry has having a better command of the facts than Bush (37 percent). As a result, the challenger’s favorability ratings (52 percent, versus 40 percent unfavorable) are better than Bush’s, who at 49 percent (and 46 percent unfavorable), has dipped below the halfway mark for the first time since July. Kerry, typically characterized as aloof and out of touch by his opponents, came across as more personally likeable than Bush (47 percent to the president’s 41 percent).

    The debate win appears to translate into better numbers for Kerry in the race itself. This suggests that the people who say, “Oh, you only think Kerry won because you’re biased,” are the ones who are letting their biases show here. Bush needs to do much, much better in the next two debates or he’s in big trouble. On the bright side, at least the expectations for him are rock bottom again.

  50. “The deal Carter and Clinton brokered with North Korea was: we give them food and oil, and they promise to claim that they’re not developing nuclear weapons, and we don’t bother confirming that.”

    If you ignore the part about the inspectors in country and the fuel rods being on camera 24/7, I guess you could say we “don’t bother confirming that.”

  51. If you ignore the part about the inspectors in country and the fuel rods being on camera 24/7, I guess you could say we “don’t bother confirming that.”

    North Korea kept developing nuclear weapons after reaching the agreement with Clinton; that’s simply a matter of record.

    So we may have sent inspectors, but we obviously didn’t send enough to get the job done. So I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say that we didn’t bother confirming that they were upholding their end of the agreement.

    If you disagree, however, feel free to amend my remarks to read that the Clinton/Carter agreement was: “We give them food and oil, and they promise to claim that they’re not developing nuclear weapons, and we “confirm” that their claim is correct by sending an insufficient number of inspectors, who proceed to do an incompetent job.”

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