Friday, October 01, 2004

Awwwwwww Yeeeaaahhhhhh

After watching the debate with a restaurant full of Democrats who clapped several times for Kerry and laughed even more times at Bush, I felt Kerry had a win on his hands but was unsure if my assessment was colored at all by the crowd. So when I left, I spoke with guru on the east coast and he informed me that CBS and ABC had released quick polls of undecided voters. The results:


Kerry Won 44%
Bush Won 26%
Tie 30%


Kerry Won 45%
Bush Won 36%
Tie 17%

I was thrilled that I hadn't made it up, that our guy did indeed nail it. And Dave confirmed my suspicions on my voicemail:

"Count one for the good guys."

Hell yes!

The most impressive thing about Kerry tonight was his poise and his calm almost fatherly demeanor. He was tough without being mean, he hit his talking points but sounded like he knew his shit and felt strongly about what he was saying, and I think he helped himself in the areas of his aloofness or his alleged wavering on issues. And standing next to Bush, my God, I guess I'd just have to say that John Kerry was the only president on that stage tonight.

What the hell was up with Bush? He looked at times sedated, at times bored, at times nervous and at other times crazy. His one high point was when he was talking about putting men and women in harm's way. I felt he meant what he said and was emotional about it. I thought he was about to pluck the debate out of Kerry's hands right then and there. But then, the question changed and the moment he opened his mouth I realized I could relax. Bush also had a strong closing statement, he actually seemed presidential for those 2 minutes, probably just because he's been doing it for almost 4 years, staring into a camera and addressing the people beyond it. But other than that, Bush was a mess. He was defensive for most of the debate and kept repeating the same shit over and over. It's one thing if that's purely a strategy, but clearly the kid can't think on his feet and it's a crutch. Unfortunately, to some, it communicates resolve and consistency.

Kerry had some good lines. He admitted to not speaking clealy on the war and then essentially asked "what's worse, that or the way the other guy actually took us into war?" And I'm a sucker for the "I defended this country as a young man and I will defnd it as president" line, I'm glad it made a reappearance, I haven't heard it since the convention. His "I have never wilted, nor will I ever wilt" line was great because you felt it came from his gut. John Kerry the fighter came out. I haven't seen much coverage about the extent to which Kerry may have addressed the wimp factor but it's got to be all but erased after tonight. This guy will fight for us, this guy will protect us and he actually has a different stand on Iraq from the president, another important point he had to drive home.

Now what his actual plan is in Iraq I don't think necessarily came into sharper focus. He kept talking about alliances, which I understand is a large point and one of the sharpest contrasts between him and the president, but he's got to have something other than that because all anyone has to say is that it's absurd to expect any country to commit troops considering the situation on the ground there. I also feel he could have gone after Bush more strongly on the issue of not acknowledging mistakes and living in a fantasy world when it comes to the situation in Iraq. And there were a couple of other times when he stumbled where he should have killed.

But I am proud of Kerry, I am relieved for Kerry and from what I've seen of pundits, conventional wisdom seems to be that Kerry at the very least has made this a race. The question for the coming days is will his strong debate performance translate to a jump in the polls. ABC News's instant poll says "no":

Kerry 47 (46)
Bush 51 (50)
Nader .5 (1)

But if an internal Kerry poll is accurate, he'll get a bounce out of this over the next week. It had his approval rating go from 43% to 68%.


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