Did the Loyalty Oath Hurt Bush in the Debate?

The only post-debate poll I’ve seen (Newsweek) shows quite a bounce for Kerry - from being behind 49-43 to leading 47 - 45 - with no change in the undecided number (6%). I think we have to assume that the undecideds are Bush backers who moved into the undecided camp to replace the undecideds who went for Kerry. So this poll show that Bush screwed up big time.

One of his problems is that he didn’t seem to have a good answer for many of Kerry’s points, and that he seemed annoyed that Kerry made them. We can blame his handlers, but can some of the problem be his lack of experience in real town meetings and real press conferences? The town meetings are jokes, and he’s done so few real interviews that he has never seen the need to get it right.

I also wonder if a set of aides who don’t give him bad news (he can’t really know what a mess Iraq is, right?) didn’t throw him any really tough questions during the dry runs. Or perhaps he didn’t understand the answers well enough to respond competently. Ever give someone else’s talk? Unless you were intimately involved in the research, it is tough.

So, did the decision to limit his exposure to real questions for better sound bite possibly cost Bush the election?

(If yes, I’ll send a nice thank you note to Karl Rove :slight_smile: )

Maybe I’m just stupid, but didn’t you say something about a “loyalty oath” in your thread title? Is that something inside that I missed because I fell asleep during the debate? Is there some debate here? Shouldn’t this thread be in IMHO? Have I forgotten how to write a declarative sentence?

I think the OP was trying to refer to the Bush-Cheney campaign’s ongoing tactic of requiring people to sign “loyalty oaths” before they can go to one of Bush’s campaign appearances. E.g., did the efforts to consistently isolate Bush from genuine criticism hurt him in the debate, since he was unprepared for handling it.

As for the OP, my suspicion is that the issue goes a lot deeper than loyalty oaths – Bush has never been a person who can handle criticism, even before the 2004 re-election campaign (look at Bush’s meager handful of press conferences as President, the lowest of anyone who’s ever held office). Bush has always been living in an antiseptic bubble, protected from the harsh truths by his family, friends, and handlers. Kerry just happened to bring a sharp pin to the debate…

If Bush is requiring loyalty oaths of anybody it’s just further proof (as if any were needed) that he is mentally stuck in the 50’s. The only difference is that, instead of communists he sees terrorists behind every tree. He is just dull witted enough that it doesn’t occur to him that the disloyal would be the first to sign such an oath, and the loyal shouldn’t have to.

rjung is correct, the loyalty oath I was referring to was required to get into a rally. Kerry does not require this. It is not an oath to the US, but to his re-election. Since no one could lose a job from not signing it, just the dubious pleasure of seeing his Bushness, I wouldn’t put it on the same level as the ones you mention.

The loyalty oaths were just a blatant symptom of the problem you mention. If you’ve ever been on a panel, you’ll know that handling hard questions from the audience is not too difficult, since you have the mike and the last word. I’d think that him expertly fielding semi-tough questions from an audience would make him look good - now the questions are a joke. I assume this was done for the sound bites, but why have rallies with only the faithful already? I’d guess there are some undecideds who have figured out it’s because he can’t handle questions.

Of course having an indefensible position makes it tougher.

Did the early presidents even have press conferences? Someone I can’t see the dignified George Washington in a press scrum…

“Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to call on anyone other than the good lady Helen Thomas for the first question.”

I knew Helen Thomas has been around a long time, but I didn’t think she was that old. :smiley:

I have no idea what this loyalty oath says. Still, it seems weird. One of the reasons to have pep rallies and such is to attract the Undecideds to your cause. Asking them to take some sort of oath would put them off. An Undecided could say “I just want to hear what he says before I decide”. Would this get him/her kicked out?

Besides, what’s to stop someone from signing the oath just to get in, even if they aren’t Bush supporters? Much like that guy who sneaked in Bush/Cheney signs to Kerry rallies-and I’m not defending him, or attacking him-couldn’t someone just sign it, and then go in and ask questions critical to Bush?

Of course, they’d probably get kicked out then, but oh, what a PR nightmare it would be for Bush!

Except that we’ll not even see that. The one and only opportunity for questions from an audience has been sanitized. And that’s too bad.


I think the intention of the “town meetings” is to sway the sheeple, not to inform them. “See? Look at how popular Bush is! You undecided schlubs only have to see that nobody disagrees with Him! Step in line! You need to be led! You want to be led! If you don’t vote for Bush, then all of these people will know you’re an idiot! You don’t want people to think you’re an idiot, do you? You don’t want to be wrong! How can you go against the crowd? Conform! The Leader will make you safe! [sub]And by the way, if you vote for Kerry, you personally will die![/sub]”

I saw that. I’m extremely disappointed that they caved and let them approve the questions first. Doesn’t anyone in politics anymore have a shred of integrity left?

Dammit! Stop laughing!

I saw this today on a poster for the movie “Johnny English”

I thought this was an eerily apt description of Bush :slight_smile:
It could also be an explanation as to why he performed the way he did in the debate.

Thanks for the clarification. Somehow it seems even worse to me. Bush will appear only with a crowd of sycopahants cheering his every stammered word. That kind of presentation appeals to the sheep, but unfortunately, there are a lot of sheep. I am encouraged, however by the bump for Kerry in the after-debate polls. Maybe a few of the sheep are getting some sense.

Bush’s campaign stops are all about playing to the television cameras. Having Bush give a speech and then having a thousand sycophants cheering him on looks much better than having his remarks punctuated by hecklers or questioning silence. A viewer at home, not knowing about the pre-rally screening, would conclude everyone was solidly behind George.

They probably wouldn’t even let him get within earshot.

What makes you think they get to ask questions?

Pfaw. The spineless conservative media sweeps stuff like this under the rug all the time. People have infiltrated – and been kicked out of – Bush’s rallys all the time.

Case in point:

Oh, he knows fear alright - at least well enough not to want to go to Nam.

I was beginning to think that John Kerry was running the most inept campaign in history. Now I think W is giving him a run for his money. Just imagine his thought process… “think I’ll have me a rally tonight- but we gotta make sure that everybody in the crowd is already going to vote for me.” Yes, this does hurt him. He seems to be so incredibly afraid of dissenting opinions that he insulates himself as much as possible from them. That’s what killed him in the debate. He’s so used to speaking to a friendly crowd and hearing only gushing endorsements that he just could not deal with a quiet crowd and Kerry contradicting him. Today’s New York Times story on the aluminum tubes underscores his inability to listen to reason. Knee-jerk reaction- they had to be for their weapons program. The experts told him they were the wrong size for the task and were likely not for nuclear processing. But they sorta looked like something that could be used for processing nuclear material so just to be safe it’s time to invade. It was clear that Bush wanted no other interpretation of the facts than what could be used to justify a war. His inner circle has learned long ago that you tell W only what he wants to hear. Dissenting opinions are not welcome in his cabinet, newspapers are not to be read because they might disagree with you, and people who might vote for someone else are not welcome at your rallies. Pathetic. Simply pathetic.

In the Great White North, our fearless leaders are subjected to questions the House, and to media scrums. It keeps them on their toes, and helps them develop their resopnse and debating skills. The Kerry-Bush debate illustrated the difference in debating skills between the American and Canadian politicos. Frankly, Kerry performed poorly, but defeated Bush who flopped between frustration and "deer in the headlights. These boys really need to get out and interact with those who do not share their points of view.