Genii Weblog

Kerry strong, Bush defensive (updated)

Thu 30 Sep 2004, 11:00 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
Well, it is just my opinion, but John Kerry looked very strong in tonight's US Presidential debate, and was as clear and precise as I have heard him.  George Bush looked a bit shaky and defensive, and tried to push his practiced debate points too much even when they had little to do with the topic, but he didn't say anything too destructive.  Kerry was quite good at actually answering the questions, while Bush simply dodged some, but both had some trouble sticking with their own constrictive debate contract, each trying hard to respond directly to the other.

On the negative side, Kerry should have left the pen alone, and Bush has got to learn to not roll his eyes and look rude when the other guy is speaking.  No wonder he pushed so hard to try to limit pictures of him when Kerry was speaking, even if the networks didn't go along.

On the positive side, neither man stooped too low, and both stayed within the time limits very respectfully.  Good points were made on both sides, and the questions asked were reasonably hard hitting for both men.  The moderator is to be commended.

Update at 12:28am: I guess others agreed.  With 512107 responders, the MSNBC poll shows 70% think Kerry won, 30% think Bush (they don't offer a tie choice).  With 131357 responders, the CNN poll shows 79% think Kerry won, 18% think Bush won, and 3% think it was a tie.  ABC News shows it was a bit closer, but I don't have the stats, something like 45% Kerry, 35% Bush, rest tie.  None of these are statistically sound polls, of course, but the early concensus seems to be that Kerry did well.  Let's see how the spinmeisters spin this over the next few days.

Update 2 at 1:04am: By the way, can you believe that George Bush, in the wake of the horrible Abu Ghraib torture scandal, would slip up and say (about his daughters): "I'm trying to put a leash on them."?  Even though it was in quite a different context and obviously not meant that way, it may be one of those statements that gets repeated and repeated.  I've already seen a couple of bloggers pick up on it, including Andrew Sullivan, who puts it succinctly and well:
No president who has presided over Abu Ghraib should ever say he wants to put anyone on a leash. That's all.

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What has been said:

215.1. Rob McDonagh
(10/01/2004 10:08 AM)

It's amazing how some of the Bush die-hards are spinning this today. But I think anybody who was truly undecided has to have a positive impression of Kerry now.

I didn't mind Kerry's pen, actually. It gave him the opportunity to pretend to take Notes and keep his head down, which kept his facial expression out of sight. The President would have been better off to spend more time playing with his pen instead of looking like an arrogant jerk with those facial expressions.

215.2. Nick
(10/01/2004 12:47 PM)

Before the debate began, they were explaining the 35 pages of rules the two parties had to abide by during the debate: 2 mins to speak, do not address questions to each other, etc. One of the main ones was: the TV cameras would not display the face of the candidate NOT speaking ?!?! (Cited was the example with Bush sr. looking decidedly bored some years back). Well, I don't know about you, but I saw plenty of split screens.

215.3. Ben Langhinrichs
(10/01/2004 01:53 PM)

The two candidates agreed to the thirty page contract, but the networks all made it quite clear that they would show what they liked. They never signed on to the contract at all.

Of course, having seen Bush while Kerry was speaking, it is no wonder his people wanted that rule in place.

215.4. David Bailey
(10/01/2004 03:46 PM)

I thought the biggest difference was nuclear proliferation. When Kerry was asked about the number one threat to the US, he said nuclear proliferation! Bush limited it to nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists. Kerry showed no such limitations -- he included Iran, North Korea, and the US research on nuclear bunker buster bombs.

Are North Korea and Iran terrorist nations?

215.5. vrushsen pawar
(02/02/2005 12:05 AM)

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