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10/01/2004 Archived Entry: "Kerry/Bush debate"

According to a Gallop poll on who won the first Presidential election debate: Kerry, 53%; Bush, 37%. The single best commentary I've read on last night's Kerry/Bush debate is Justin Raimondo's wrap-up entitled "Kerry Cleans the President's Clock: Bush got his head handed to him but why does Kerry want to flatten Fallujah?" Thomas Knapp's analysis concludes with words I echo,

"In the end, it all came down to looking at the two guys on stage and asking yourself 'which one of these idiots do I want in charge?' The correct answer is 'neither one of them.' The realistic answer is that we're going to get one of them -- and I'd rather have Kerry and a Republican Congress than Bush and a Congress of either party." I may be less sanguine about seeing Kerry at the helm -- not that I think Thomas is wriggling his toes in pleasure at the thought; far from it -- simply because I focus more on social policies than many other libertarians currently do...and Kerry is certainly a mixed bag in that area. Far more PC, far more likely to cement the worst policies of gender feminism, etc. On the other hand, I think he would junk the Patriot Act and that would be well worth putting up with political correctness for 4 more years. The clinching argument is the one Knapp advances; namely, that you want a President who will not have the clear support of Congress...or the House for that matter...but mostly Congress. I disagree with Thomas one point, however. I think there are significant differences in the policies of the two men. Just one example: their attitudes toward North Korea and strategy for handling NK's nuclear presence.

For those who are curious about an evaluation of the debate from a less partisan source, the German Spiegel Online (article in Englsh) offers a fair overview. It is interesting that Spiegel zeroes in on how uncomfortable, angry etc. Bush appeared on occasion. The broadcaster clearly decided to scrap the pre-negotiated "rule" that the camera would focus on the party who was speaking and never go to the other party to register his response to what was being said. Bush lost *a lot* of points due to his peevish reactions, including an audible sigh of exasperation which was reminiscent of Gore's collossal mistake in that first 2000 debate during which he reacted with visible/audible disbelief at some of Bush's statements. It will be interesting to see if the camera work in the second debate goes according to the negotiated agreement. I'm sure the Bushies are furious and will be throwing temper tantrums aimed at the media...but they will do it behind the scenes, of course, because they will not publicly admit that Bush looks bad when he is caught being candid.

It is interesting to speculate on the role bloggers will play in the after debate spin. An email from the Democratic National Committee declared, "We all know what happened in 2000. Al Gore won the first debate on the issues, but Republicans stole the post-debate spin. We are not going to let that happen again, and you [bloggers] will play a big role." Meanwhile the Bushies set up "a network of Web sites to carry instant analysis of tonight's debate. The 'Debate Feed' will provide the GOP spin in real time to as many as 5,000 conservative Web outlets, according to Wired News." The stated goal: "Our rapid response effort is based on the premise that no attack or no misstatement will go unchallenged," Meanwhile an offshoot of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center has provided Fact Checker that critiques the accuracy of both debaters. For a sample of bloggers' responses, click here.

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