Friday, October 01, 2004

I watched the whole debate last night -- although I almost went to bed early because it was getting a bit draggy. Here my initial thoughts:

1. Kerry looked better. Hands down. Listing gobs of facts and throwing them at Bush. Standing tall, being more deliberative and calm. What makes Kerry a bad speechmaker makes him a great debater. In the stump that style is boring. What makes Bush a great speech maker -- energetic, focused on a few key issues, etc. makes him bad at debating. Bush has got to get over this thing of looking and sounding defensive all the time.

2. There really wasn't much substance. Kerry kept sniping at individual factoids and then asserting he would do better -- but no specifics. Bush kept saying he had more resolve and had proven consistent. He needs to memorize gobs of factoids.

1. While he looked and sounded better, Kerry offered no plans and offered self-contradictory ideas.
-On Unilateralism: In Iraq the Bush administration is bad because they didn't build a viable coalition. In N. Korea the administration is bad because they are being multilateral. So.... which is it?
-On Outsourcing Military: In Iraq things are bad because 90% of work is done by Americans. In Afghanistan things are bad because the administration is letting locals do some of the work. So....which is it?
-The UN: In Iraq things are bad because the administration got tired of waiting 12 years for the UN to act -- they failed the "global test". In Darfur they are wimpy and bad because they are working with the UN and the "international community". So....which is it?
2. Kerry kept asserting that he was entirely consistent on Iraq. I am not the President so I do not have to be diplomatic. That was a lie. I understand why he lies about this -- he has to please two groups: the democratic base who are peaceniks and the section of the swing voters who do not like Bush but want a strong defense. So Kerry has to be a peacenik/hawk -- I'll grant him that this is a tough row to hoe politically -- but the fact is he has changed his tune.

1. Bush needs to say more than he is consistent and has resolve. Those are very, very importan things. But he really blew it when he didn't compare his record with Kerry's. Kerry has a 20 year record of being a dove. Most American's aren't doves. Did Bush's team not prep him? He should fire some people.
2. Again, the defensive thing. I listened to replays on NPR this morning and Bush sounded better. But he has this bull dog style that turn a lot of people off. I imagine there are some who like it -- The Instapundit's wife said she thought it made him look sincere -- go figure. I don't agree. He's got to fix it.

1. Why did he not ask Kerry about his senate record?

Overall two philosophies emerged. Kerry sees the war on terror as an action to get al-qaeda and protect us from more attacks. Bush sees the war rooted in an ideology and rooted in a ntework of groups and states -- with the prime goal of pursuing these enemies and defeating them. Kerry's ideas are consistent with his philosophy and Bush's approach is consistent with his philosophy. Voters will have to decide which to philosophy to embrace and vote based upon that. Why do I say that? Because both candidates can talk until they are blue in the face about what plans they have. But in war, to paraphrase Dwight D. Eisenhower, before the battle is joined plans are everything, after the battle is joined they are worthless. What is more important in the long-run is basic philosophy and overall objectives.

No comments: