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Some Thoughts About The Debate III

I was in the car for the bulk of tonight's presidential debate and listened to it on the radio. Consequentially, I have very little to say about it. After all, mocking the candidates' facial expressions and mannerisms has pretty much been the mainstay of these posts, and, lacking that, I got nuthin'. Well, maybe I got a little. We'll see.

  • Bush sounded really, really loud for the first half of the debate, like a guy at karaoke standing way too close to the mike while belting out "I'd Stop The World And Melt With You." When he jumped on Charles Gibson it sounded like a tiger attack in the middle of a Siegfried and Roy show.
  • A lot of people are saying Bush won the debate by virtue of not doing as poorly as he did in the first. I think Kerry did better too, so I still think he won. In fact, I had a brilliant insight* just after the debate finished: it all comes down to whether you think Kerry won the first debate because Bush did poorly, or whether you think he won it because he did well. If you think the former, you may well conclude that Bush won this debate because he did so much better; if you thought the latter, you probably think Kerry won this one because he, too, improved. Since I thought Kerry won the first by exceeding my expectations (honestly, I didn't expect much from Bush, and he met that expectation), I thought Kerry won this one as well.

    * Well, actually it was some NPR guy's brilliant insight, but, you know, I'm sure I would have come up with the same thing if he hadn't blurted it out.
  • Now Kerry is talking about OB/GYNs too?! What the hell? Are the seven undecided votes all gynecologists or what? Cripes, they're going to propose putting portraits of OB/GYNs on the backs of nickels by the time the election rolls around.
  • Bush: "We've just got a report that said over the past 13 months, we've created 1.9 million new Internets." Heh, no he didn't really say that. But he did mention "the Internets." And although this gaffe rates as "sooper dooper trivial," I wonder if this will have the same effect on Bush Jr.'s reputation as the Supermarket Scanner myth had on his father's, making him seem dangerously out-of-touch with modern technology. Bear in mind that Bush mentioned "the Internets" in response to a question about the draft, which means that his reply will be of particular interest to high-school and college kids -- the very demographic that's likely to be the most Internet-savvy and a prone to seeing this as some old "geezer" not being "hip" to modern "lingo." Good thing kids are too apathetic to vote!
  • I think Kerry might be in trouble for the last debate. The conventional wisdom, going into these things, was that Bush would do best on foreign policy (which is why his campaign wanted it first), the second debate would be a draw, and Kerry would win last on domestic issues. The assumptions behind this prediction were that Bush is strong on foreign policy matters -- the war on terror and Iraq are two issues he clearly cares about -- and indifferent to domestic issues, and this would show. Now I'm starting to think that the underlying assumptions are true, but the conclusion is 100% wrong. Bush blew the first debate and the first half of this one because he's so passionate about Iraq and the war on terror, so passionate that he can't take Kerry's criticism without resorting to grimaces, eye-rolling, and hollering. But once the conversation turns to domestic issues -- issues that Bush, frankly, has never really shown much enthusiasm for -- he gets bored enough to start sounding reasonable again. He may care so little about the topics in the third debate that he comes across as -- dare I say it -- presidental.
  • Transcript here; comments are open.

    Posted on October 08, 2004 to Politics


    My favorite moment was when Bush leapt up to rebut and just rolled over the moderator. He was so determined to get out those (obviously rehearsed because otherwise he couldn't have pronounced the last guys name otherwise) lines:

    "You tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Silvio Berlusconi we're going alone. Tell Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland we're going alone."

    He seemed to be teetering on the edge of just flipping off the crowd and storming off the stage. "Fuck you all! Good night and God Bless America!"

    Kerry concluded one rebuttal with a dismissive, "Go figure." that seemed to capture in two words the why-do-I have-to-match-wits-with-a-nitwit contempt he feels for Bush.

    To his credit, Kerry has really hammered away at Bush. Bush has been given such a free-ride by the press for the last 3 years that he looks astounded that someone would call bullshit on him. "I am the great and mighty Oz. Who dares criticize me?"...Although Dick Cheney looks more like Oz and Bush more like Scarecrow... Colin Powell is the Cowardly Lion. Kerry is obviously the Tinman. Condi is the Wicked Witch. Neocons as munchkins... Hmmm, who the hell is Dorothy?

    Posted by: Screwby Dew on October 11, 2004 4:39 PM


    Just in case you hadn't seen it already.

    Posted by: Macon on October 11, 2004 7:53 PM

    Anyone care to guess what the third command code will be?

    Posted by: Lord Floppington on October 11, 2004 8:38 PM

    "Need some wood?" I could make so many freakin' porno jokes, but I won't. Suffice to say that the Sierra Club-sponsored debate party I was attending lost its shit when Bush said that. I mean, c'mon." Bush?!" "Need some wood?!" It's comedy gold.

    Posted by: Russell on October 11, 2004 10:27 PM

    The third command code will be W clearly and precisely pronouncing "nuclear" three times in a row. Watch for it.

    Posted by: clete on October 12, 2004 4:49 AM

    hey, can we get t-shirts say "Fuck you all! Good night and God Bless America!" and have Bush making his angry face? Maybe they're on sale at the RNC website.

    Posted by: zardoz on October 12, 2004 4:53 AM

    Bush won the debate, sort of, but not by all that much so it really didn't have much effect.

    Posted by: Duane on October 12, 2004 7:45 AM

    That is interesting insight as to why Bush will do well in the third debate (was it yours or NPR's? - sorry, had to ask), and thinking back on the debates, I am inclined to agree with you there.

    Posted by: Roxy on October 12, 2004 8:20 AM

    I think the FYAGNAGBA T-shirt would sell on both sides of the aisle. On the left it would be proof of Bush's arrogance and on the right, it would be, "Hell yeah! Fuck everyone who doesn't agree with us! Bring it on!" (Yee-haw, etc.) So here's a chance for Bush to be a uniter instead of a divider.

    Posted by: Shaggy on October 12, 2004 9:20 AM

    I also listened to Debate II on radio, then saw a little on TV, and was interested to notice how much angrier Bush sounded on the radio than he did on TV. I mean, he sounded Howard Dean, out of control angry on the radio. On TV, he just seemed a little irritated. What would Marshall McLuhan make of this?

    Posted by: Carny Asada on October 12, 2004 9:31 AM

    Marshal McLuhan would advocate an un-mixed massage for Bush.

    Posted by: Doober on October 12, 2004 10:28 AM

    I'm getting the debates mixed up maybe but my fave was "I KNOW that Osama Bin Ladin attacked us...I KNOW..." Oh wow, that really brought back memories of first grade.

    Posted by: Miel on October 13, 2004 5:02 PM

    I'm hearing a lot of people say what amounts to how a candidate won by exceeding their expectations. This is often amusing coming from people who have exceedingly low expectations of one or the other candidate. "Bush strung two sentences together!" "Kerry took a stance and it was a whole half hour before he flipped it!" "Edwards' hair moved!" "Cheney ate zero puppies!"

    Posted by: LAN3 on October 14, 2004 11:38 AM