Thursday, September 30, 2004

Just in Time for the Debates

I'm back. Things have been crazy with our weekly hurricane schedule. Twice now I've had to repair my roof and this last time, I had to catch some leaks. It's been crazy. I couldn't miss the debates though. Even as contrived and set up as they are, there are always great moments of back and forth dialogue, even if indirect. Here are my initial thoughts, fresh off the debate.

Kerry: He did a good job of simplifying his usual long-winded delivery and stayed on track pretty well. He seemed to take a few more shots than Bush did, although neither one got too venomous at any point. My problem with him was this: his great plan for Iraq is basically Bush's plan, just somehow better and faster. Summits would be planned- they are. Troops would be trained- they are being trained. Countries would be brought in to help fight. How exactly? They haven't wanted to get involved up until now, what will change their mind? What will he give them? He actually said at one point that they would have to offer something to countries to get them to support us in foreign issues. What sort of deals or money would they get? And who would pay for it? All of us.

Bush: He seemed too laid back. I wanted him to expose Kerry's plan as Bush's plan plus 80 pounds of speculation, which he didn't do very well. I wanted him to respond to Kerry's body armor comment with "gee, if that's true, it's exactly what you voted for." The "mixed messages" euphemism wasn't direct enough. He needed to hammer home the changes in position and the voting record on defense. On North Korea, Kerry wants to talk. We are talking. On the Sudan, Kerry wants to spend tons of money to give them everything including the kitchen sink so that they'll fight their own battles. Some of these things needed to be clearer.

Overall, I actually think Kerry came out slightly stronger in this debate. Bush passed up too many opportunities to really hammer Kerry on a few key issues, and other than Kerry's "World Test" comment, there wasn't much to jump on for the Repubs. I think that the Republican campaign needs to pull those sound bites and those few things they can really grab on to and try to capitalize on them over the next few weeks to make up some lost ground.

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