Friday, October 01, 2004

Debate: Round 1 goes to Kerry

John Kerry did well. He had to. The President did not.

The President seemed to run out of gas toward the end of the debate. Kerry could have gone on for another 90 minutes. While this debate may not affect the eventual outcome of this election, it did put John Kerry in a new light. President Bush consistently hammered home his main campaign points but failed to rebut some of Kerry's inflated rhetoric.

The dilemma for the President is that he has a track record in office, and John Kerry has the benefit of hindsight. This is not to excuse the President's lackluster debating skills. I imagine it is difficult to take the carping from the cheap seats that has gone on for over a year only to have your rival pound you once again without the benefit of an on/off switch. Whereas in the year 2000 it was Al Gore who had the air of incumbency and George Bush played the fresh faced challenger. Kerry's "commanding" performance with facts and figures (many demonstrably wrong, by the way) contrasted sharply with the President's reflexive defenses and visable exasperation. Kerry's very good debating skills papered over the fact that he was not saying much of anything. His reference to a "Global Test" America would have to pass before commiting our military and a promise to halt any advanced nuclear testing should call into question his ability perform as commander in chief.

There is some light here for the President. I get the feeling that there is a bit of Bush Hatred Fatigue Syndrome falling over the land. Just as many, many people who thought Bill Clinton's affair with a young White House intern was despicable; they also grew weary of the pounding the man took over it. September the 11th did change the world; Bush gets it and has acted decisively. I still don't think Kerry gets it.