October 01, 2004

"Aww Snap!" Jim Lehrer

Well that's what he should have been saying all last night during the first Presidential Debates, which he moderated.

Everyone's saying it and it's hard to disagree with a straight face; Kerry (mostly) stomped Bush's ass like that shit was on fire. Kerry looked smart, cool, collected, and like he was already on the job. Bush looked like a squirming punk kid who didn't really know much about the job he was applying for and was pissed off that he had to sit next to someone that did. The thing to keep in mind though is that this is EXACTLY the Bush we saw in 2000, but then he was in a better mood because he didn't have a record that he had to run on and Gore didn't attack much anyway. This is probably the first time since 2000 when America has the real George Bush instead of the tightly leashed and prepped Bush that never gets in front of a crowd without a teleprompter nearby.

From a purely aesthetic level Kerry killed Bush. It's obvious that one of the conditions of the debate was that all split screened shots would be shot so that both of the candidate's heads were even, but what I don't think the Bush campaign counted on was that this made Kerry look gigantic, filling the whole screen while the Bush side was mostly podium. Also, Bush looked yellow. Not scared-like, but he looked like he could move in with the Simpsons tomorrow and fit right in. I don't know if it was the lighting or what, but the dude looked sick and Kerry looked healthy. Maybe Bush didn't want Kerry to be the only tanned one and used a "fake-bake" tan lotion. My sister did that once and it turned her orange, so you never know.

Looks aside, it's on the issues that Kerry really stomped Bush; not really because he hit everything out of the park, but he brought some policy game and Bush looked like he thought he could front his way through this thing with no prep time and a couple old talking points. Guess what, Bush says Kerry's a flip flopper! The voters haven't heard that before George! Kerry: "I made a mistake voting for the war, the President made a mistake going into the war, which is worse?" Booyah! Kerry managed last night to simultaneously portray the President as someone who makes, and then stubornly sticks to, bad decisions AND as someone that flip flops as well. Great stuff.

So yeah, Kerry won. Even the folks at Fox News were saying he won and I think we all know what kind of crowd they run with. I did see them mention the one really huge gaff that Kerry made, but they didn't stick to it and I haven't seen it come up anywhere else much. Still, Kerry shouldn't have implied that America's actions abroad have to be measured against some kind of foreign yardstick for them to be legitimate, even if he's right, because that quote's probably going to get picked up and thrown around by the wingnuts a bit. Still, when you're getting pretty universal wins from everone and Fox it's more important to press the advantage all the way through to the next debate than worry about the couple misstatements he may have made. Bush looked weak. Keep him weak until the domestic policy debate and Kerry should be able to slam his ass with a million and a half mistakes that he's made in the last term.


LameAim said...

Normally I don't watch these things, but I ended up watching it in a bar (baby steps) and was just astounded at the whole thing - not really at how well Kerry was doing, but at how poorly Bush came off. We all know that he's not really the best public speaker, and that is actually part of his charm to his supporters... it makes him appear honest.

That debate was like a trainwreck, though. Good thing I was in a bar.. I needed a couple of beers to deal with Bush's complete ineptitude. At one point I was like "That is the guy that's in charge? I need another Hef..."

Man, it's shit I knew before, but I guess it never really sunk in until yesterday.

Archgarth said...

I just love how some in the press are referring to Bush's chronic inability during the debate to come up with anything other than a repetition of "Kerry's a flip-flopper" whenever he wanted to respond to something Kerry said as his "My Pet Goat" moments.

Anyways, apparently, from what I understand, the debate commission rules specified that the TV networks were not supposed to show cutaways of the one candidate while another was talking, and the networks said "no way." I saw that on Salon yesterday.