Thursday, October 14, 2004

debate #3

andrew sullivan's analysis this morning hits the nail right on the head. bush had some outstanding personal/emotional moments, and performed respectably overall. his answers on the softball questions (faith, women in his life) were genuine and sincere: outstanding, really. but the real story to me is kerry. he maintained all his strengths from previous debates, and even managed to measure up to bush on the personal issues. don't get me wrong - bush's answers in that regard were stronger, but kerry suprised me by being as solid as he was. bush got off two quality lines on the question about women in his family to lead off, then went sincere. kerry somehow managed to get in a nicely self-deprecating joke about teresa - and laugh at himself on the double take. that was a nice move in a tough situation where the comedic window of opportunity seemed to have already closed.

on substance ? why bother. it was another marathon of incomplete and inaccurate generalizations. kerry tried hard to explain his health care plan, but something like health care is awful hard to boil down into 90 seconds. on the whole, kerry sounded more thoughtful and more substantial on nearly every issue. he was oddly enough less comfortable than bush on gay marriage and abortion (perhaps because bush is speaking more sincerely while kerry is navigating carefully on those issues).

i'm more disappointed in bob schieffer, who managed to burn valuable clock on questions about the flu vaccine and religious faith, instead of maybe something marginally more relevant to this election, perhaps energy policy or global warming.

the post-debate analysis has been surprisingly focused on debunking the 'facts' touted. kerry very nearly hurt himself with his surprising claim about bush not meeting with the CBC. but that small dishonesty is going to disappear (along with the dishonesty of bush's '98 tax increase votes' mantra) in the enormous wake of kerry's resurrection of the bush quote on bin laden. i think kerry may just have found the hard evidentiary piece that closes this deal for the electorate.

- LH

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