Skip to comments.Why Bush Won
Posted on 10/01/2004 4:24:55 AM PDT by veronica
Bush won the debate last night.
Yes, yes, all the snap polls and focus groups, like most of the talking heads, say that Kerry won. It was stylistically his best performance in memory. He certainly passed the "looks Presidential" test. The lights indicating the time limit, which everyone, including me, thought would hurt Kerry, turned out to be great for him, forcing him to adjust his rhetorical style for the better; it was in fact Bush who went over time once.
But here's a quick test of last night's electoral effect: what do you remember a day later, off the top of your head?
Chances are, it's that Kerry called Iraq "the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time." Or that it is bad to send "mixed messages" (or "mixed signals"). Bush said each of these things seven times (Kerry, attempting to parry Bush's thrusts, said "mixed messages" another three times). Kerry spoke competently on each point of debate, but swing voters aren't going to walk around with his talking points in mind -- he only brought up rushing to war three times, for example.
Kerry scored some real rhetorical blows, but he didn't hammer them home as he should have. The failure to catch bin Laden in Tora Bora is a real vulnerability, and while Kerry wisely brought it up early, he only mentioned it again once. While Bush may have the better half of the argument over the efficacy of bilateral vs. multilateral talks with Pyongyang, and the Clintonites may bear much of the blame for the progress of North Korea's nuclear program, but the fact that the missiles went online recently is, at bottom, a big problem for the President. By the time Kerry brought up North Korea, casual viewers -- and the typical swing voter is about as casual as they come -- may have already tuned out.
And Kerry's performance, as good as it was by his standards, was still marred by a few gaffes. That his idea of a superior president is one who asks foreign leaders "What do you need, what do you need now, how much more will it take to get you to join us?" is not the best image for Kerry to project. Romantically invoking a meeting with Charles de Gaulle in Paris does little to dispel the perception of excessive France-friendliness. And the notion of "global test" for when preemption is okay left Bush open to zing him for wanting to let international popularity trump national interest.
Matt Drudge posted last night that Kerry advisors were unknowingly caught in a candid conversation by C-SPAN's cameras where Joe Lockhart told Mike McCurry that "the consensus is it was a draw." Lockhart is more or less correct. And that's why I say Bush won. Kerry might get a small bounce in the polls, but probably not enough to fundamentally change the trajectory of the race.
Is the election over? Not yet -- despite the consensus that last night's would be by far the most important match-up, something in the upcoming debates could prove far more relevant. A lot can change in a month. For the moment, though, Bush's small edge is likely to remain.
John Tabin is a frequent online contributor to The American Spectator.
Spot on analysis and commentary.
Ha! Beat him to it! ("It was a Knockout, After All!) http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/1232376/posts
Good analysis. Here is my simple analysis.
Debate # 1 Winner by category.
Could it be that President is holding his fire, keeping his powder dry for the next two debates?
...and I can't WAIT 'til the Vice President goes up against the pretty candidate!
The only thing that is going to be remembered about the entire debate was Kerry's "global test", just as it was Al Gore's "lockbox" four years ago. Kerry failed miserably at actually laying out a plan for the peace. I think a lot of people were looking for that and came away just as confused and unsure on Kerry as they were before the debate. He even managed to flip-flop during the course of the debate on whether the war was a "mistake" or not, and whether Saddam was a "threat" or not.
Kerry's bold anti-proliferation vision of giving Iran nuclear fuel is deserving of attention and scorn, but it will probably get lost in the chatter.
President Bush was himself. That is a plus. I tried to keep my focus on what Kerry said, but even the palms of his hands were yellow, which was a distraction (or was it my television)? I didn't hear anything outstanding from either one, but Kerry's mentioning Viet Nam, grated at me, along with his denegrating the military. You can't say what he said without our soldiers wondering what in the heck it's all about. Kerry aimed his rhetoric at the voters and to hell with our fighting men and women. That will backfire.
Imagine my surprise when the consensus headline this morning is that it was a "draw". I thought Bush got creamed last night.
What I remember about last night:
Kerry stating that Sadaam was NOT a threat. Then, 88 minutes later stating that Sadaam was a threat. (Boston Globe (today) and Rudy Giulliani (last night) concur)
Kerry still wants permission from the Global community on how and when to protect America...hogwash.
Kerry is an excellent speaker, but he doesn't DO anything.
Bush talks like an ordinary person, but he DOES plenty.
The enemies we're facing in the War on Terror are not the least bit impressed by talking; the only rational way to deal with them is to wipe them out.
Less than one minute into the debate she rolled her eyes and said, "Gawwwwd, what an ass..." as Kerry expressed his thanks and condolences to the people of Florida. She said that she felt Kerry was a typical bloviated politician trying to suck up. She also rolled her eyes when Kerry talked about the two soldiers he met in Ohio (?) that came up to him and told him how much they needed him.
After that, she pretty much stopped paying attention.
I must confess though, I myself lasted only an hour as I decided my time would be better spent taking the dog for a walk. My opinion? George Bush should not have concerned himself with the little lights as much as he did. He should have made his point and stopped whether there was time left or not. He seemed too concerned with filling up all his time and ended up repeating himself too often.
Bush won on substance. It's too bad that the MSM doesn't care about substance.
But on substance Bush won, and I think that will carry the day, ultimately.
The facts are stark and plain. We are in a death match with terrorists and we must be on offense and use our power when we choose to, and you don't have to be a great orator to get that simple point across. It's the only salient point and all of Kerry's smooth BS won't win any voters over IMO, on that all important defining issue.
I agree. Bush was awful last night. I couldn't bear to watch it. It was as though he was trying to remember talking points and was not being himself.
When he DID speak off of the cuff, it was great. I thought he'd finally gotten into the swing of the debate, but then he went back to "uhmming" over the talking points again.
I think anyone here on the FR could have done a better job against Kerry. Kerry should have been verbally obliterated, not the other way around.
"I thought Bush got creamed last night."
Here at our house it seemed the opposite. Hubby & I thought Kerry was his ususal stiff, charmless self. He said Vietnam! or (vietnam) far too many times. He's got NO PLAN for anything, that's plain.
Bush was no shining star, that's true, but I'd still say he came across better than Kerry.
I remember thinking that Jack Kemp would TOAST Al Gore and boy was I dissappointed. I have a little more confidence in Cheney, but again, he's going up against a seasoned trial lawyer who has been in this type of situation many times. Cheney's best bet is to use the records of Kerry and Edwards and beat "Pretty Boy" over the head with them.
"I thought Bush got creamed last night".
You and your wife were wrong. Bush won. He gained more of the women voters, and made inroads into Indy undecided's. Overnight internals show a 2 to 5 point gain for Bush nationally... all from TARGETED demographic groups!
Bush seemed sleep-deprived. Having been sleep-deprived myself for several months, I can absolutely say that he had most of the characteristics. Namely, the amount of time it took for him to respond, and his half-comprehensible answers, his demeanor, and the look in his eyes.
I wonder what he was up last night doing -- it certainly wasn't practicing for the debate.
Can you point me to a site with these details. I'd be interested in seeing the breakdown.
You're overstateing it by a bit...yes, Bush was defeated in a pure rhetorical sense...good thing everybody already knows mellifluous verbiage is not his strong point because he exhibited none last night...and somehow he must find it within himself to avoid those pauses and 'uhs'...prime no-no's in debate. And once and for all, say 'nooclear' instead of 'noocular'. But let's not forget that Al Gore looked like an insane idiot in the debates in 2000...the sighing, the harrumphing, the exasperated glaring, then capping it off with a toungue thrust down Tipper's mouth as if on the set of a French porn film...and he came within a whisker of winning the election. (Should've won actually; Nader deep sixed him if Florida)These debates are meaningless except as fodder for the political junkies...let's look forward to Nov 3 and the fun of watching the tallies coming in...
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