In defending the honor of our (few) allies, Bush says Kerry should not denigrate Tony Blair (and Poland’s president!), Bush insists that they were not ‘co-hearsed’ into an alliance, he knows how “these people” think.
Ladies and gentlemen, the leader of the free world.
Actually, I welcome that sort of diversion. Things have been rather unharmonious of late. The occasional breath of fresh air is a nice change from discussing politics for the 80th time in a month. Plus it’s not like Brutus has been called on something here and posted the bit about the Bush twins in lieu of something with meaningful political content.
That was one of the points raised during the after-debate discussion on Fox News (which seemed, by the way, fairly even-handed. I was pleasantly surprised). Bush seemed … well, not as respectful or as even-tempered as Kerry did.
I didn’t watch the entirety of the whole thing by any measure. I listened to much of it, and what I saw on television was both candidates on television for much (don’t remember clearly enough to say all, but if someone else does, I’ll happily concede) of the time.
Perhaps the reason he tried to avoid specifics like this is that he didn’t want to get nailed on them. Keeping it vague was the better strategy since it gave less ammunition to Kerry to point out how these claims are mainly deceptions.
I loved the point where Kerry noted a shift in position of Bush’s and then added something like “I believe his campaign has a word for that.”
Actually, I do wish that Kerry had gotten to talk more about the $87 billion thing. He dealt with it in one of those 30 second rebuttals and his statement: “Well, you know when I talked about the $87 billion I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?..” (using the N.Y. Times transcript here).
Unfortunately, only the people who are really up on this will know what he is actually talking about…I.e., that he gave a very reasonable and coherent explanation of his vote on the $87 billion (see here) but then ended it with a horrendously stupid soundbite (the “I voted for it before I voted against it” thing).
That was probably a missed opportunity for Kerry. But, alas, I guess he wanted to take the point in a different direction and he couldn’t do both in 30 seconds.
I thought Bush looked weak by repeating the notion that Kerry had been inconsistent but not elaborating on those. I suspect (me? partisan? As IF!) he did it because he knew Kerry was prepared to explain (away, depending on one’s side of the fence) those. It seemed to me that anything Bush brought up as inconsistency was something Kerry was prepared to discuss, and I thought he did so better than Bush did when Bush kept on harping on Kerry being inconsistent. I thought it was a very good move, not to mention an honest move, for Kerry to admit error on that vote, though I didn’t like his “I spoke wrong; you acted wrong.” little bit. I would have hearkened back to what he said earlier about talking with vets and families of vets who said they needed more and I would have said that I now saw that what I voted against was what we needed. I think it would have segued nicely into “because sometimes when more information becomes available you come to a different conclusion.” He made a similar point at another time, I believe.
One thing I learned in high school about a formal debate where you speak (as opposed to where you type - the differences between those are vast) is that the more you are able to adjust to what your opponent is saying, the more likely you are to come off as having deep knowledge of the subject and being able to apply it. It seemed to me that Bush wasn’t entirely prepared for what Kerry said, as evidenced by the fact that Kerry didn’t seem to take the “inconsistent” bait in a way Bush could use (the sole exception I can recall being I think the 87 billion bit, which I thought Kerry did a passable job escaping).
I think Kerry definitely made a mis-step in not being ruthless or clear enough describing/picking places to mention where Bush was not truthful. I didn’t think Kerry was specific enough when he mentioned the whole “mission accomplished” banner, especially since Bush had earlier stated that the mission was not accomplished. WMDs etc. were something we had to know would be mentioned, but I don’t think the case is anywhere clear that Bush lied, and I thought Bush made up some ground by mentioning, in case anyone didn’t know, that both he and Kerry had seen the same intel and come to the same conclusion. I think Kerry should have emphasized how important it was that we have not only the backing of reliable intel but also a world community that was not nearly so taken by the intel as we were. He might have gained a few points there by pointing out how much of an issue it currently is that the administration has arguably made a really big mistake, weakened some important alliances and ties, and gotten us into a situation where immediate withdrawal is not a (MHO) reasonable option, and might have said that it should have been considered more carefully.
When’s the next debate, and what’s the core issue going to be? I figured out about half an hour into the thing that it was only going to discuss iraq/military/terrorism and I’d like to see what they have to say on fairly dissimilar topics.
The next one is a town hall-type debate, on October 8. Questions will be canned (approved in advance) by “Undecided” voters. The 3rd debate is October 13.
The Vice Presidential debate is October 5 (ooh, same day Fahrenheit 9/11 is out on video/DVD!)
Speaking of Bush twins (well, some were), I loved the bit where Kerry said “I’ve chuckled a few times at some of their comments” then Bush says “I’m trying to put a leash on them.” It was a very funny, warm, and human moment for both of them.