Kerry, hands down.
So say the polls and the pundits. To say nothing of me. I certainly wanted Kerry to prevail. But this was a mismatch almost from the start. Both candidates were a little wobbly and nervous in their initial responses, but Kerry found his feet, and Bush was on the defensive the rest of the night. He looked miserable, hunched over his podium; he looked bitter and angry —
perhaps at being in a situation where his questioners haven’t signed loyalty oaths; he delivered his comments in a yammering Ross Perot-like cadence; he stammered and groped for words — even using his trademark “let me finish” stall tactic at a point when no one had interrupted him (or indeed, given the rules of the debate, COULD have interrupted him); he seemed ill-prepared; he repeated at least a half dozen times a slogan that is sure to come back and bite him: “wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place.” Kerry was patient, focused, respectful, clearly better informed, clearly in command of his facts, and completely able to parry the few jabs Bush tried to make. Best of all, he was able to make his policies sound (a) different and (b) better than Bush’s. Now let’s get him elected! (Alas, on KRON 4’s rebroadcast, I didn’t get the benefits of the high tech split-screen presentation that many primetime viewers enjoyed.)
I certainly can’t review the debate better than William Rivers Pitt.
Have to hand one kudo to the Rovians, though. They did a good job of stacking TV “undecided voter” panels with hardcore Republicans. Don’t you think these “news outlets” would do a LITTLE investigation? Have they heard of Google?