DATE: 9/30/2004 07:11:00 PM
Debate-Blogging - I'm going to try and live-blog the debates. This could be fun, as my computer and my television are in separate rooms. I have a choice - either try to talk my wife into buying a laptop in the next two hours (doubtful), lug the tv into the computer room (uh, no), or watch the debates on C-SPAN online. Some pre-debate thoughts and predictions:
7:19 p.m. The Kerry Spot says Kerry may do better than expected. Honestly, I have my doubts. Kerry and his supporters really believe the senator is the smarter guy in that room. It is going to be difficult for Kerry to hide his character or his disdain for the president. At present, Kerry is having trouble playing to his base, the MoveOn.org, Michael Moore angry left. They want more red meat, more attacks on the president, more comparisons to Hitler. At the same time, Kerry wants to appeal to the women voters he's losing and the men he's probably already lost. There are too many audiences there to make a good appeal to any single one.
No matter what Kerry says or does, he's going to offend someone. And that's his real problem. Of course, if he doesn't completely screw up, the media will declare the debate a success for him.
9:00 p.m. - And away we go. "90 seconds to air." You've got to love C-SPAN. Warts and all...
9:03 p.m. - The candidates have entered the hall. The first question is about to be asked. John Kerry gets the first question. "Do you believe you could do a better job preventing 9/11?"
"Yes, I do." But give me a moment to think...
9:05 p.m. - Shattered alliances. Kerry is going for blood early. This is surprising - looks like he's going for the MoveOn types. "Reaching out to the Muslim world?" A summit? What on earth is he talking about? France has already said they wouldn't send troops!
9:06 p.m. - Bush is answering. Talking about what the U.S. has done since Sept. 11. Defending pre-emption, talking about what's going well in Afghanistan. "We must take threats seriously before they fully materialize." Good line about Hussein. Good. He brought up Libya - a nice way of throwing down his sword and saying "Are you not safe?"
Question to Bush, based on Cheney's criticism of Kerry. "People know where I stand." Trying to make Kerry look like a flipper fast.
9:10 p.m. - Kerry is bringing up the "diversion" argument - Iraq distracted us from the "real war." "This president has made a colossal error of judgment." Now he's naming names of people who support him...blah...blah...blah. This isn't going to go over well. Name-dropping elitist.
Now he's beating the podium. Could we leave the podiums alone, please? It makes a bad noise.
9:12 p.m. - "Where do you want me to begin?" What a crapweasel.
9:13 p.m. - First mention of Vietnam.
9:14 p.m. - Bush is answering. Bringing up Kerry's former statements on Iraq. He's unusually strong during this debate.
9:16 p.m. - Bush is taking on the UN and their "failed inspections." Lehrer is asking about the wisdom of going versus Saddam first versus Osama. Bush - "we can do both." Kerry is writing something. This debate isn't bad, so far.
We will succeed in Iraq, "because the Iraqis want to be free." Bush brings up mixed symbols again. They're going to push the flip-flop thing.
9:18 p.m. - Kerry just made a mistake. The mention of body armor and humvees brings up the perfect opportunity for Bush to bring up the fact that Kerry voted against the $87 billion.
9:19 p.m. - Bush is hitting back. Bring up the $87 billion vote, darnit!
Kerry is responding now. He's blathering about allies again. Not a good response. Where's the specifics?
9:20 p.m. - Oh, crap. Kerry's bringing up first responders. Uh, the luggage goes in the cargo hold, dingbat.
9:22 p.m. - Bush is bringing up the amount of money spent. Danger, George Bush, Danger! Conservatives won't like this stuff, but the security moms will probably eat it up.
9:24 p.m. - "We didn't need that tax cut?" What the heck? When will Lehrer ask about exactly HOW Kerry plans to make America safe?
9:25 p.m. - Lehrer is asking about exit strategy. His questions to Kerry seem much more straightforward. Hugh Hewitt has more on this.
9:27 p.m. - Bush is talking about the benefits of a free Iraq. My message for the troops is "help is on the way." What does Kerry mean by that? Now he's telling a story that sounds fake. Really fake. Now he's talking about just how terrible things are in Iraq. Brings up oil. Yup, he's playing to the MoveOn crowd. Brings up Vietnam again - 9:28 p.m.
Summit, again. What the heck?
9:29 p.m. - "The president made a mistake in invading Iraq." Why did you vote for it, then? Vietnam again.
9:31 p.m. - Kerry accuses Bush of not planning. Good line about Mexico, though. Clarke has been discredited, though. He's bringing up the allies again. If Lehrer weren't so tied to his script, he would push Kerry on that. Kerry is starting to sound a bit screedy. Not good.
9:32 p.m. - Halliburton? Somewhere, Michael Moore is laughing.
Bush does a good job of bringing up Kerry's denigration of our allies. Nice rebuttal. This is the best I've seen Bush thinking on his feet.
9:34 p.m. - Um, Kofi Annan ran like a little girl when the first terrorist hit the UN. Kerry made another mistake, trying to make the coalition sound small. Gave Bush a good opportunity to bring up the "coerced and bribed" quote.
9:35 p.m. - Bush doesn't seem to be able to answer the miscalculation question. He does take the opportunity to hit Kerry, though.
9:38 p.m. - Kerry's still trying to talk down the coalition. Bush has already beat him on that, I think. He's sounding small and bringing up talking points.
Korea has nuclear weapons because CLINTON ALLOWED IT.
9:39 p.m. - Lehrer throws another softball. "How did Bush lie?" Kerry's going through talking points.
9:40 p.m. - When is Lehrer going to ask for specifics?!? He's letting Kerry get away with total generalities.
9:41 p.m. - Bush is going through a litany of how Kerry "misled" us by changing his positions on the Iraq war. Pretty good rebuttal.
9:42 p.m. - Kerry claims to have one consistent position on Iraq. That's a big whopper.
9:43 p.m. - Has the war been worth lives? Another one from the left...Lehrer isn't covering himself in glory here. He's actually the worst one on the stage right now. Bush bringing up the families of those lost - it will probably play well with women.
9:45 p.m. - Good answer to a bad question. Bush is doing well tonight. Kerry's answer should be interesting. Oh, crap. Vietnam again.
9:46 p.m. - Kerry bringing up Vietnam and his plan (the secret Summit and the UN) doesn't sound as good as Bush's sympathy for the family. Jeez..."more of the same." What exactly is your plan, senator? Uh, moderator?
9:48 p.m. - The Pottery Barn rule? Kerry is trying to speak for the soldiers. I wonder what they have to say? "The plan" again. Finally...Lehrer asks for specifics! Go, Jimmy!
9:49 p.m. - Kerry is beginning to sound Senatorial. Pull up! Pull up! How many freakin' times is he going to bring up the oil ministry? He's not being specific on his plan. "Change the dynamics on the ground" is a pretty general answer. Bringing up Fallujah was good, but the alliances thing was weak. Kerry's doing okay.
9:51 p.m. - Bush is going to hit Kerry on Allawi. Excellent...
9:52 p.m. - Kerry is trying to make it sound like he agrees with Allawi. Yeah, but you insulted the man.
Bush is hitting back. "A central part of the war on terror...they're fighting us because they're fighting freedom...those are the stakes." Great comeback.
9:54 p.m. - Criminy, Bush is on fire tonight. This is simply the best debate performance he's ever given. Period.
9:56 p.m. - Kerry is going to bring up the "diversion" argument again. Brings up "outsourcing." Hey, I thought this was the foreign policy debate!
9:57 p.m. - Kerry is talking diverted again. "I'd have made a better choice." So what country would you have invaded?
Lehrer asks about "preemptive war."
Kerry: "passes the global test." Not a good response, for the audience. You're not talking to the world, senator. Most people don't give a tin crap what the world thinks if we're doing the right thing.
10:00 p.m. - When is Bush going to bring up the fact that "diplomacy" is what allowed North Korea to have nuclear weapons in the first place.
Bush's response to the "global test" comment was excellent. Bringing up the ICC - good rebuttal. The ICC isn't popular with the American midwest - the "red state" voters. Says being popular at the expense of America is wrong. Nice.
10:03 p.m. - Bringing up diplomacy to answer Kerry's criticisms. I wonder how Kerry will respond to the fact that diplomacy has been used with North Korea?
10:04 p.m. - Kerry brings up Iran. Will he invade that country now? His "I could have done better" line should be dropped. It's petty. Kerry is bringing up North Korea, and just brought up Clinton's agreement. Mistake.
10:06 p.m. - Bush brings up Kerry errors - "there's already sanctions on Iran." "We did work with" other countries. Lehrer is bringing up Darfur.
10:08 p.m. - Kerry is accusing Bush of "sliding by" a question. Heh. Now he's trying to say we can do this through the African union - doesn't he realize how corrupt most African governments are? Now he says we're overextended. Does he think we should invade Darfur, then? How many countries does Kerry want to invade?
"Backdoor draft." Uh, senator, Bush has the military. You're not taking that vote away. Kerry's avoiding the question. He makes a good point about not allowing another Rwanda.
10:10 p.m. - This is hard. My typing skills are being put to the test.
10:11 p.m. - "I admire Sen. Kerry's service to our country." Nice job pouring hot coals on Kerry's head. Brings up Kerry's flip-flops as a character issue. Good job, although I wish he'd quit using the phrase "mixed messages."
10:13 p.m. - Kerry is doing a nice job responding. They almost bonded for a second. But he's not saying nice things about Bush - just his daughters and wife. Say ONE NICE THING. I dare you.
10:15 p.m. - Bush is acknowledging the need to sometimes change tactics, but not his core. Kerry: "My position [in Iraq] has been consistent." Doesn't pass the smell test. Time for the RNC to start running that ad more often.
10:16 p.m. - "Nuclear proliferation." Good answer. People are still afraid of the bomb.
10:18 p.m. - Kerry brings up Kennedy. His "chicken in every pot" answer is something weak. Bush agrees with Kerry on WMDs. Corrects the senator on funding. Internet is getting flaky...
10:20 p.m. - "The president has had four years..." Well, John...he's had a few other things to think about, you know.
10:21 p.m. - "Did you misjudge Putin?" GREAT question. What's happening in Russia is scary. Bush is fumbling a bit on the question, but bringing up the horror of Belsan is good. Talking about his good relationship and how it allows him to criticize Putin. Effective.
10:23 p.m. - Kerry is talking about his visit to Lubyanka. KGB Visitors for Truth? Sorry, couldn't resist.
10:24 p.m. - Kerry's answer on Russia was good. Should have stuck with that instead of going into "Bush lied" and "mission accomplished." "Don't take it personally...looked at the same intelligence, came to the same conclusion." Good comeback.
Kerry is going on about the coalition again, after authorizing war. Talks about an "incredible mess" in Iraq.
10:26 p.m. - Closing arguments. Kerry brings up his tagline - "stronger at home...blah." Brings up Vietnam again - reuses the line from his acceptance speech. Brings up his plan without specifying his plan. Talks about bringing allies to his side even though Bush took him to school on that already. Talks optimistic, but has done nothing but gripe for the past year and a half, not to mention the past 90 minutes.
10:29 p.m. - Bush close. Not a bad job. Nice bringing up of the draft - should have hit Kerry on that harder. Talks specifics about Iraq. Brings up lines from his own acceptance speech. Not a bad close - more optimistic than Kerry.