Yes, I realize that I am hardly qualified to give an objective opinion over who did the better job in tonight's debate. I am a solid Democrat and thus want Kerry to win, and there is very little that anyone could do or say that would make me change my mind.
I did watch the entire debate. I was surprised at how quickly the hour and a half went by, which tells me that both men were able to keep my attention and were well prepared. I have been bored by many a debate in the past. Honestly, I was prepared for tonight to be nothing more than safety spin by both sides, especially from the President.
Before taking the time to give my opinions, I felt it would be the right thing to check out reaction in varying types of media, so I watched a little television, read news websites, and checked out what I consider to be honest, independent political blogs.
The consensus is that John Kerry won this debate.
I agree, of course, and my reactions to follow reflect what I took from tonight's event.
Frankly, this debate concerned me the most, because the issues of homeland security and the war on terror are this president's strongest attributes, or I should say that the electorate seems to think that this is where he is strongest. People seem comfortable with his abilities to succeed here, and it has been such a dominating factor in the campaign, especially from the GOP side. I felt that Kerry had no chance at performing better than the President tonight, a feeling that I attribute to the fear factor that has permeated GOP thought since 9/11. As I said in my earlier post today, I felt all that was necessary for Bush to win tonight was a couple of well-timed screams of "BOO!"
The President did not study the tapes of Al Gore from 2000, and I was stunned to see him visibly smirking and frowning in reaction to what Kerry was saying. I certainly do not believe that normal human reactions such as those should be detrimental to evaluation, but I know that the average voter reacts to that type of stuff. He should have known better. He also looked tired and withdrawn at times, and he was far too repititive. Memo to the Prez: we know you think Kerry changes his mind as often as we change our fruit-of-the-looms, and it wasn't necessary to start every response tonight with that. I also thought he used the "wrong war, wrong time" reference in regard to Kerry's supposed non-support of world leaders and US troops too much, and we already know that being President is a tough job. I kept waiting for him to quote Will Ferrel on SNL: "Presidenting is hard."
And did he say that the insurgents in Iraq were fighting "vociferously?" Can someone tell me what that means? Mr. Webster doesn't seem to know that one. Neither do Mr. Funk and Mr. Wagnalls
Kerry wasn't perfect. I did not want to hear "Vietnam" at all tonight. Please, please read the memo. And the fact that he said he visited "Treblinka" Square in Moscow instead of Lubyanka is embarrassing (Treblinka was a Nazi death camp in World War II). I thought it was genius though to pull out the quote from Bush 41 on why he did not go after Saddam in 1991, that it would have led to chaos (I'm paraphrasing). Subsequently, I would have liked to see Bush bring up that Kerry voted against that war yet voted for this one. Why? I am surprised that the President missed that opportunity.
It's clear that Kerry was fortunate tonight; Bush fumbled away his biggest trophy and he will have to work extra hard on the two remaining debates. His entire re-election campaign has been focused on terror, fear and security. He spent much of the first fifteen minutes talking about Saddam in jail, 9/11, keeping WMD away from terrorists, and his will to do what he believes is right. For some reason, he lost it then, deciding to pound the flip-flop idea back upon us. We get it already.
And if I may be nitpicky, it drove me nuts that Bush continually addressed Kerry as "my opponent." He's standing three feet away from you. Call him what he is, a Senator. No one will think any less compassionate. Not once did Kerry refer to Bush as anything other than "President."
There have been many, many times in this campaign where I have had to stop myself from pounding my head into the wall until I fall unconscious, primarily for two reasons. First, this idea that if Bush is not re-elected, we're all going to die. It's ridiculous. Any man or woman who is the elected leader of this country is going to be commited to keeping us protected. Who in their right mind would not be? The second thing is Kerry's inability to pound on that issue, to be more assertive in telling America that he will remain steadfast on terrorism and remind us that there are DOMESTIC issues that need to be addressed in this campaign as well. Bush has a horrible record on domestic issues and Kerry has done little to bring that up.
So I have waited, and waited, and waited, and with each passing day, the spot where I am going to put my head through the wall becomes a little more appealing, a little more comforting...until tonight. My forehead will not be getting flatter in the foreseeable future, because for the first time since they became opponents, I feel that John Kerry has done a decent job of convincing the electorate that he is as qualified to handle these safety and war issues as the President is.
Dare I say it, that he looked and sounded "presidential"?
And this issue goes away now, at least partially, because the next debate is open for any and all issues, and the last one is solely economic.
After tonight, I pictured John Kerry locked in a room somewhere with several leaking water pipes. The water has risen to just a few feet beneath the ceiling and Kerry doesn't have much room left to breathe. I feared this debate could be the last gasp, the water that fills the rest of the room and leaves this a one man race. Instead, Bush punched a hole in the ceiling and threw a rope down to Kerry, who was able to climb out to safety.
The rules say that by November 2, someone has to go back into that water-filled room.
Your rhetoric may also be used as a flotation device.