Friday, October 01, 2004

Obligatory debate post

A reader asks when I will weigh in on the debate. This blog aims to please, so here I go.

The public seems to think Kerry won. But the impact on overall polls is unclear. The pundits think Kerry won or it was neutral. Hugh Hewitt is a notable exception:
Bush gets a big win, by hitting all his messages over and over again. He wins on substance. Biggest mistake by Kerry: "The Global Test." Sorry, the American voters aren't interested in passing any global tests. Bush stresses steadfastness and resolve. Kerry firmed up the hard-left vote, but you can't win on this. [Emphasis in original.]
Bush missed some opportunities:

  • Bush said he agreed with Kerry's statement that the biggest threat was nuclear proliferation, and he defended his non-proliferation record. Instead Bush should have stressed this as a difference between them. Consider this alternative answer:
    The biggest threat to our security is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrrorists. Not only will we continue to limit the spread of weapons of mass destruction, but just as importantly we will go after the terrorists who would use them against us. Of course non-proliferation is a priority, but to leave it at that is to remain in a September 10 mind-set. That is why I have led a multi-pronged attack on the war on terror. I will continue to do what is necessary to keep our nation safe, and that includes aggressively going after terrrorists and the regimes that harbor and support them. This is the way to keep our country safe. [Note: I didn't include the word "nuclear." I cringe every time I hear Bush pronounce it.]
  • When Kerry did his bit about talking to people (incidentally in swing states) who had to get their body armor themselves, how did Bush not mention Kerry voted against funding body armor?

Worst Kerry rhetoric: "the global test"

Best Kerry rhetoric: "When I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?" (But to make it a truly memorable phrase, he should have used parallel construction: "I made a mistake in how I talked about the war, but the president made a mistake in how he went to war. Which is worse?")

I suspect the debate will not have a major impact on the polls. I also suspect that the public will not have the patience to sit through all the debates.