Friday, October 1, 2004

Well, I know I'm a biased member of the liberal media, but I just can't see how anyone other than people on the Republican party payroll can say Bush won the first presidential debate. Seriously, I think Kerry did pretty darned great, confident and authoritative. Heck, he looked a lot more like a president than the slouching little gremlin on the other podium. Did anyone catch how Bush kept ducking Kerry at the handshakes so their 5-inch difference in height wasn't apparent?

Anyway, enough snideness since there's plenty of that on the Net already. If I try to pull back and look objective, I just can't see how Bush did well. He was hesitant (enough .... long.... pauses.... before thinking of another way to say "this job is tough," OK?) and it felt like he was surly and defensive the entire time. Obviously, a debate tends to be a referendum on the incumbent, but despite Bush's efforts to turn it into "Kerry changes his mind!" he was pretty much against the ropes the entire time. The reaction shots of him grimacing like a chimp who hasn't been fed didn't make him look good at all. Bush stuck to the time-honored GOP tactic of "slogans and repetition" that seem to have worked well 'til now, but in this format they hurt him. He felt strident and blockheaded.

Kerry, on the other hand, seemed confident and pretty solid. He avoided "gov-speak" for the most part (a few too many facts and figures though) and used his lawyer's training to hammer away pretty solidly on Bush's many mistakes. He didn't quite have the "common touch" of a Clinton but neither did he appear to be a soulless robot. The word that comes to mind is "professional," which ain't something I've felt about Bush. I admit to worrying a lot about the polls and so forth the past few weeks, and it's a month to go yet, but Kerry sure didn't hurt himself tonight. It'll be interesting to see what the spin and pollsters tell us in a few days when this all sinks in, but I'm daring the hubris of feeling hopeful again. Which surely means I'll get let down, I guess...

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