Strange Brouhaha

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Debate, round 3

Once again, Kerry failed to slam-dunk anything. (Caveat: I missed a bit near the middle when Savannah had to use the phone and I failed to remember that we could have quite easily plugged in a pair of headphones to the computer speakers. Maybe he slam-dunked something in there.)

I listened to the NPR stream again, so I've got no clue how things looked. Bush sounded tired, bored, and lost. I think part of that sound in his voice was that somebody finally pounded it into his thick skull that he's been shrill and whiny, and he was trying to modulate his tone, but it's more that domestic policy is not his strong suit. Notice how he kept trying to pull everything back to education, which is the one area of domestic policy where he's actually done something, whether you think it's positive or not.

What was that bizarre moment where he started to try and make some kind of joke about listening to the opinions of network news organizations, then said "Well, nevermind?"

I think that Kerry again came off the better of the two, successfully deflecting the President's attacks and delineating plans clearly. The President was again reduced to largely ad hominem attacks.

I listened to a little bit of post-debate analysis, and something funny came up. Remember Kerry's assertion that Bush had never met with the NAACP, never met with the Congressional Black Caucus? And Bush's assertion that he had in fact met with the CBC, "at the White House?" Turns out that he did...because the CBC got on a bus and basically stormed the White House uninvited and demanded that he meet with them. You've got to go with Kerry's interpretation as the one that's correct in spirit, there.

The moderator did a pretty good job asking questions and being tough, although once again Bush steamrollered over a question about the backdoor draft. All in all, not a solid win for Kerry, but I think that he did better than Bush, again.

In "The Cuckoo's Egg," Cliff Stoll describes his examination for his Ph.D. (I think). The committee asks him one question: "Why is the sky blue?" Then they drill him down to specifcs on the things he says. This is the kind of thing I want to see from the two candidates. I don't want dry debates. I want to see someone start out with "Why should I vote for you?" and then go from there. Don't let any assertions go by without ferreting out meanings, don't allow platitudes, don't allow any B.S. Pin them down, both of them. Keep asking "Why?"


  • As I was elaborating to Savannah this morning, to say that Bush "met with the CBC" is kind of like saying that I've had "several meetings with Mormons" because they come up to me on the street or show up on my doorstep. It's technically true, but it's not something I exactly wanted to happen.

    By Blogger Robert, at 9:17 AM  

  • (Dan): The bizarre moment was, I think, because Bush forgot his audience. He's so used to speaking to a room of mostly reporters that he thought he would get a laugh, at their expense, and when it didn't come he had no way out.

    The truly odd thing in this debate (watching it) was that Bush was so badly scolded by his wife not to scowl, that he had an inappropriate and obviously forced smile throughout every answer of Kerry's, even when Kerry was talking about desperate situations in the world.

    Kerry blew this one, but I think fewer people were watching, those who did hadn't forgotten the first debate and, if anything, are worried about someone who takes two weeks to learn how to smile. On the other hand, Bush got the last laugh and that's all it took for Reagan to win both a debate and the election.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:57 AM  

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