Debate Reaction

I was expectinng better from Bush. It’s not so much that Kerry’s points were stronger, and that Bush’s responses were factually weak; I expected that, since the facts actually are on Kerry’s side. But in trying to put myself in the position of a hypothetical swing voter, someone who has managed to get this deep into the process without knowing who to vote for, and who presumably is going to vote based not on policies and track records, but on which candidate makes him or her feel better, Bush came out behind.

It’s not that he lost to Kerry on substance (though he did, dramatically). It’s that even without trying to evaluate the substance, Bush sounded weak. He was whiney. And up against Kerry, the contrast was dramatic.

Bush lost big tonight.

20 Responses to “Debate Reaction”

  1. David Says:

    I was unable to put myself in swing voter mode tonight, I was in full partisan hack mode, so it’s good to have some confirmation. I think he killed. Let’s try to get some actually unbiased reaction!

  2. David Says:

    Initial reactions don’t get any more initial than this, but…

    Who do you think won the first U.S. presidential debate? poll results

    John Kerry 84%.

  3. David Says:

    MSNBC puts it at 73% to 27% Kerry.
    FOXnews has no poll. Wonder why.
    Sorry to post so much. I’ll go watch The Daily Show now.

  4. Damian Says:

    If the debate is judged on how “likeable” and “feeling” the candidate is, w came of as his usual slick (slimy) self.

    If it is judged by demeanor, and coolness-under-fire…Kerry took it; George wilted, shifted, whined.

    If it is judged by presence of fact…again Kerry wins.

    But, of course, we don’t judge the winner. The Karl Rove slime machine does that.

  5. Craig Says:

    I’ll leave the “truth is on our side” pronouncements to the chest-beaters.

    In terms of what really matters in such a debate, like it or not, the question is “Whose presentation, demeanor and conversational style came off more positively in the minds of the voting public?”

    It seemed clear that Kerry came off better than Bush did. Even the most Conservative bloggers and Fox News (this board’s favorite whipping boy) have admitted as much.

    What I found interesting is that an ABC poll asked a balanced group of viewers (democrats, republicans, independents) who they favor before and afterwards, and Kerry and Bush both went up 1%. Which makes me wonder, assuming that no great gaffes occur by either person in future debates, has the voting public essentially made up its mind?

  6. Dave Says:

    Bush should have brought Cheney for the debate.. He might have done better that what he did tonight.

  7. Adam Says:

    I do think Bush lost pretty big because this was supposed to be his strong suit, his way to deliver a knockout punch early. And he didn’t do it, by a long shot.

    But let’s face it, a lot of people like Bush’s “aw shucks” demeanor. (Although all those split-screen shots of Bush looking pinched and snarky whenever Kerry spoke couldn’t have helped him.) And the number of swing voters could fit in my bathtub.

    My favorite part was watching NBC interview a group of six undecided voters, who all came out solidly for Kerry. Not just that he won this debate, but also that they feel comfortable with him as CinC. That’s big.

    Best line: “I made a mistake in how I talked about the war. The President made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?”

    I do think Kerry could have hammered Bush even harder than he did – security forces, etc. (When Bush was talking about how Saddam refused to disarm, I was thinking, what did he have to disarm?) But it gets to the point where people think you’re mean. Kerry handled it well.

  8. Thomas Says:

    I must be strange, I mean really strange. I have watched Bush in debates from day one. Anne Richards pounded him and made him look like a moron, Gore did the same but unfortunately made himself look bad in the process. I am completely unable to watch Bush speak and see any redeeming factors in his, “because I say so’ manner of speaking and his repeat the same lines because he has no ability to process information and answer questions rationally. I have always thought that a person with Bush’s command of the english language would be more suitably employeed pumping gas than leading this country. Have I become that partisan? What is this man’s charm, I don’t see it.

  9. Thom Says:

    I think most of you were a lot more pumped about this debate than I was. I felt kind of like I did when I listened to “…And Justice For All” every day for three weeks, then went to see Metallica in concert at Louisville Gardens. The nuances of the live show were different from the record, but it was still the same notes played in the same order the same way. Nothing new was said, really, and I doubt many minds were changed on either side. In today’s political climate, these debates only exist to give supporters of one side or the other soundbytes and talking points to bolster the arguments they’ve already been making. I thought Bush did okay, but I already liked him. Kerry did alright, too, but I saw more or less the same arguments against him I saw before the debate. Neither of these are spectacular men, nor is this the spectacular political climate a lot of people seem to think it is. The debate was, as I’m sure the next two will be, fairly pedestrian. The outcome of this election, whatever it may be, is already sewn up as we go through the hallow motions

  10. Peter Says:

    I was amazed Kerry didn’t strike when Bush asked him how he’s gonna pay for his proposals re homeland security. to me that sounded like W was more worried about tax cuts than the safety of our cities. this is a guy who has created a historic deficit and yet he doesn’t want to pay for our security??

  11. Adam Says:

    Great point, Peter. I also thought Kerry should have pounced on the trumped-up 100,000 Iraqi security forces number.

  12. enkidu Says:

    Kerry smoked shrub. Hmmmm, burning bush. Don’t inhale! Seriously tho, shrub came off as he really is: shallow, uninformed, stubborn, stupid and unwilling to admit any error (his marching orders come from God/Allah/Jesus2.0, so how could he possibly make any mistakes, ever?)

    Ya caint lead if ya changes yer mind! Really? The one line that resonated with me prior to the debate (being a wind sailor) “If you are headed for the rocks, it is wise to change course”. For all you w lovers, if you think Iraq was a fabulous success, vote for w and get 4 more years of useless, distracting, counterproductive WAR baby! I have said before that if w came by a supporters house and took a dump on the lawn, they would frame it. I believe this is called framing the debate? Sorry… couldn’t resist…

    So, shrub fans… look up Kerry BCCI if you want some insight into Kerry’s character. And what about that $25 million loan that BCCI made to shrub? Hmmmmmm

    3 words


  13. Sven Says:

    3 words


    This should be Bush’s new campaign slogan. haha.

  14. Daniel Says:

    Interesting to see your interpretations of the debates. True Kerry came across as more likeable etc., but to me Bush came across as someone who is tired of having the lies and unkeepable promises of his oppenent cut into his presidency, and his ability to lead this great country. i would submit that facts are not on John Kerry’s side no matter how much you all want them to be, but I am as sure that your opinions of the facts will not change as I am that mine won’t. Keep up the good work, it is always good to read rational opinions from thinking people, as misguided as they may be, and good luck to you all this political season.

  15. Gerald Says:

    I still don’t understand what the polls are saying. How can anybody support bush??

    Bush and Cheney say that if we vote for Kerry we are more likely to have another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Well, September 11th was the worse attack on U.S. soil in american history, the worse terror attack. Under what administration did it happen? George W. Bush’s

    Bush says Kerry is a flip flopper by aren’t politicians flip floppers by nature. Because Bush is also a flip-flopper. A lot of things he promised and aggreed with before he was elected in 2000 were he didn’t do.

  16. Sam Peak Says:

    Kerry may have won the debate but if you look at his past voting record as Senator you realize he will not be leading the country in the right direction. His past liberal voting record such as against all our modern weapons is very scary in the least. The liberal judges he would appoint, possibly to the Supreme Court, his support of gay and lesbian marriage, supporting partial birth abortion where they suck the brains out of a baby as it is being born is truly sending our country in the wrong direction in my opinion. I suggest you review his past voting record rather than the “slick meaningless words” in a debate when he speaks with forked tongue. I had a professor in college that was a very good speaker but he was promoting communism it was determined. I assure you he would not make a good president.

  17. Eric Says:

    “I was amazed Kerry didn’t strike when Bush asked him how he’s gonna pay for his proposals re homeland security.”

    The same reason Bush said that “this is for another debate” line: last night’s debate was about foreign policy, not domestic policy, which Homeland Security is a part of. They’ll talk about that when they get to the domestic policy debate.

    As for my opinion, I think Kerry rocked it. Not only did he have the facts and reality on his side, it was also Bush this time who was unsure of himself and was rolling his eyes and making weird faces. I bet Rove was pretty disappointed by Bush’s image, since that’s mostly what Rove focuses on.

  18. Shelly Carrera Says:

    Bush is an idiot! What I saw at the debate was one man ( Sen Kerry) sticking to the issues and the other (that idiot Bush) avoiding the issues. Kerry remained composed and secure, while that moron Bush just appeared nervous and frantic by Kerry’s rebuttals. I don’t see how the polls say that Bush is leading when the majority of people always have something negative to say about Bush. Where are they taking these polls? In space?

  19. LQ Says:

    We all remember how wacko Al Gore was 4 years ago in the debates. After watching Mr Gore in the debates, I think we all understood the real reason why his wife Tipper was a mental health advocate. Mr Kerry had at least one similar wacko moment in the debate when he went off the deep end and accused Bush AND Cheney of making $84.00 on a Timber company. Bush dealt with the insanity of Kerry just like he dealt with Gore’s space invading bit. He said, “That’s news to me” and strolled over to Charlie and said, “Need Some Wood?” An instant classic in dealing with yet another wacko line from a Democrat. It will be interesting to see what new forms of insanity manifests itself in the next debate. Until then. NEED SOME WOOD?

  20. John Callender Says:

    Well, except Kerry’s statement about Bush qualifying as a “small business” because of his reporting $84 as a “timber company” was 100% accurate.

    See, the same nonpartisan site mentioned favorably by Dick Cheney (well, he _tried_ to mention it) in the vice president’s debate:


    Bush got a laugh when he scoffed at Kerry’s contention that he had received $84 from “a timber company.”  Said Bush, “I own a timber company? That’s news to me.”

    In fact, according to his 2003 financial disclosure form, Bush does own part interest in “LSTF, LLC”, a limited-liability company organized “for the purpose of the production of trees for commercial sales.” (See “supporting documents” at right.)

    So Bush was wrong to suggest that he doesn’t have ownership of a timber company. And Kerry was correct in saying that Bush’s definition of “small business” is so broad that Bush himself would have qualified as a “small business” in 2001 by virtue of the $84 in business income.

    [end quotation]

    When you make statements that are actually true, it means you’re not “wacko” for saying them. It means the person charging you with being “wacko” is just ignorant, and wrong.


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