Friday, October 01, 2004

Some thoughts on the debates, and blog-based reaction thereto:

Favorite blog-based fact check of Bush, in an incomplete and highly partisan survey of the blogsphere: Julian Sanchez on Hit and Run:

Bush (approximately): "He says we didn't have allies? What does he say to Tony Blair? What does he say to Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland?"

President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland: "They deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that's true. We were taken for a ride."

Favorite blog-based fact check of Kerry, in the same spirit: Bill Peschel, in the comments to this post on The Truth Laid Bear:

So Kerry things [sic] the biggest security problem in the world is nuclear proliferation. Last I checked, terrorism is killing more people than nukes.

Favorite fact check within the debate itself: Kerry pointing out that "we were attacked" is a lousy reason to invade Iraq if they weren't the people who attacked us.

Final thought: Yes, Kerry seemed presidential, dignified, and demonstrated complete mastery of English grammar, even (mirabile dictu!) in sentences involving multiple subclauses, while Bush failed dismally in all three respects. And Kerry acknowledged that our current Iraq policy isn't working, while the only thing Dubya had to say in its defense was that if people would just stop questioning it, it would have to start working eventually. So, if you had to pick a winner, Kerry won in a walk.

But the thought I walked away with was "gee, is that the best we can do?" The format of the Lincoln/Douglas debates was an hour speech from one candidate, an hour and a half from the second, and then a half hour reply from the first to wrap up. In contrast, no one at last night's event got to speak for more than a couple of minutes at a stretch. Josh Marshall observes that "Bush didn't seem to have any really clear idea what his administration's North Korea policy even is." Well, he probably doesn't -- but even if he did, the format of these debates just doesn't give him the time he'd need to even explain, let alone to justify, a complicated diplomatic strategy.

Then again, since his support seems to rely on his own supporters not knowing what he stands for, perhaps that suits him just fine...


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