Friday, October 01, 2004

Full of sound and fury...

Yes, I watched the debates last night, and since there is a federal law mandating that the entire blogosphere comment on the Kerry/Bush showdown, I shall comply like a good little lemming.

Technically, I'd say Kerry "won." No surprise on that count, since I'm a Kerry supporter and perceptions are skewed by partisanship. I expected Kerry to mumble and stumble through long, convoluted answers, delving into amorphous nuance as his television audience fell asleep in droves, and was pleasantly surprised when this didn't happen. He stayed focused, his answers were concise, and he showed that he had a detailed grasp and understanding of the issues.

Bush, on the other hand, looked annoyed most of the time while Kerry was speaking, and had several brain-locks, although nothing serious enough to cost him the election. In the first debate of the 2000 elections, I thought Gore came across as pompous, condescending and arrogant, while Bush came across as relaxed and folksy. I'm convinced that believe that the election turned on the performances in that first debate. This time, the roles were somewhat reversed--though not to the extent of 2000. Bush did "stay on message" through the debate against Kerry, bringing up the "hard work" being done in Iraq and painting Kerry as a flip-flopper by repeatedly branding him as sending "mixed messages." Unfortunately for Bush, after the first 30 minutes it started to sound like he'd only been coached on two answers--"hard work" and "mixed messages"--which he repeated for every question, whether relevant or not. Someone could develop a good drinking game out of that.

So I think Kerry technically won. Fine. But pragmatically, I have to say it was a draw. Bush argued from a position of power, and didn't make any crucial mistakes. Kerry was more articulate and knowledgeable, but Bush again made good use of the "I'm just plain folks like you at home" approach. Bush's black-and-white worldview is an easier sell than Kerry's more complicated (and more realistic) shades-of-grey view, and so Bush had the advantage in conveying this to the electorate. Ultimately, it's a push, with both candidates coming out of the debate having shored up their constituency, but not making much headway with the undecideds. Kerry may have shaken the resolve of some Bush-leaning undecideds, but his performance hasn't won them over. It's all going to come down to the next debate, a town-hall forum. If either candidate can score a convincing victory there, it's all over.

Now Playing: George Strait Greatest Hits vol. II

No comments:

Post a Comment