Kos, Lead Balloons on What to Ask Bush at the Debates

A while back, Kos of Daily Kos asked for readers to suggest debate questions for Bush. Now he’s picked out a few of them. Kos writes, “These are all tough questions, so I don’t expect anything like them to be asked at the debates.”

But the ones he’s picked, for the most part, aren’t that tough. Bush would have relatively little trouble spinning them back at Kerry, making himself out to be compassionate and sympathetic, Kerry as crude and scary. Here’s an example, along with my hypothetical Bush response:

Mr. President, in July of 2003 you said if anyone wanted to attack our troops in Iraq, they should bring it on. In March of this year you appeared at a reporters’ dinner and ran a video in which you jokingly stumbled around your office looking for weapons of mass destruction. Can you explain this behavior to the families who have lost loved ones in Iraq?

Heartfelt pause. Thank you for asking that. You know, being a president can be stressful. Sometimes I try to lighten the mood when I probably shouldn’t. But let me say this: No one feels more deeply than I do about the noble sacrifices made by our military families… (Followed by 90 seconds of trademark Bush hokum.)

Kos’ readers are informed, passionate partisans; they’ve offered questions that speak to the true sources of their animosity toward Bush. But that’s not what these presidential “debates” are about.

If you want to “win” in this venue, you have to play a different game. It’s a subtle, tactical battle. Let’s turn to Bad Attitudes’ Lead Balloons for an example of how it should really be done. From How Kerry can win the debates:

Kerry speaking: Yes, I’m for the Bush foreign policy — the foreign policy of George Bush Senior.

What is presidential leadership? Presidential leadership is being able to do the tough, patient work of forging a coalition for war — the way your father did, and the way you didn’t have the strength or patience for. Your father had the strength, wisdom, and courage to be commander-in-chief. He could’ve invaded Iraq, but he had the strength to show restraint and the wisdom to know it would have been a disaster.

Now, his own son has made that very mistake and proved the father right. I commit here to the American people that if I win this election, I will reach out to former President Bush, and seek his wise and strong counsel. Sir, your father was a big man who had the wisdom to know when to fight, and the strength to know when to show restraint. He was strong and wise, you are strong and wrong. You had the chance to measure up to that legacy, and you failed.

Man, I’d love to see that.

6 Responses to “Kos, Lead Balloons on What to Ask Bush at the Debates”

  1. DianneMaire Says:

    Do we actually expect anything of value to come out of these debates. George Bush didn’t do as bad as expected with Gore and I’m afraid he’s hanging his hat on his good ole’ boy persona that’s winning the hearts and minds of so many deep thinking Americans these days..especially the women. Unless the Kerry team comes up with something I’m very afraid the debates may hurt the Kerry campaign rather than help. George Bush will win in the looks and personality department and sadly those are very important criteria in today’s American culture. Sorry for the pessimism.

  2. Daemous Says:

    Man that kind of response would be outstanding.

    I don’t think the expectations on Bush’s debate expertise are as low
    as Rove spun them in 2000. I also think that people know there is a
    more serious tone and much more at stake now. Has Bush ever taken
    any form of public two-way dialog seriously? I hope that will show.

  3. Aaron Says:

    I think he would need to round that out with a dash or two of Reagan. You know – something like,

    “We can also look to Ronald Reagan who, while unafraid to use our armed forces in ventures that in the past you would have ridiculed as nation-building, knew where to draw the line. He knew what we could reasonably accomplish with our military, and never mistook fantasy for hard fact. He rejected the fantasy notions of the very same people who are now the hawks of your administration. You rejected Reagan’s legacy, rejected hard facts and realities, and followed that fantasy into a war that, thanks to a staggering number of mistakes and reversals by your administration, may well be unwinnable. You rejected the sage counsel of our finest military leaders and statesmen, such as General Powell and General Shinseki. You rejected the wisdom of your father. And the nation will be paying dearly for your mistakes and poor judgment for years, perhaps decades to come.”

    (Too “shrill”?)

  4. Ralph Says:

    Hello. Please listen to “The Flop” song about Bush flip flopping at http://www.politicalsongs.net. It is humorous and accurate, and intended to at least neutralize the spin about Kerry flip-flopping.

    Please link it, or contact me with feedback or questions, or whatever you like. Thanks.

  5. Tom Says:

    Kerry turns to Bush and ends with …

    “I know your dad. I served in the senate when your dad was President. I have a lot of respect for your dad … (pause here)

    … and, son …, you sure aren’t your dad.”

    Sorry … couldn’t resist.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Great site! Best wishes!

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