Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Reactions to First Debate (Foreign Policy)

Hi Everyone,

Who you think won tonight's debate on foreign policy really depends on which candidate you thought needed to deliver a "knock out."

Polls show that Bush has commanding lead over Kerry on the foreign policy dimensions. What's more, this is basically Bush's only advantage. Since the next debate will be on domestic issues, Bush really had to put it away here. Bush needed to say "9/11" 30 times in 90 minutes like he did in his RNC speech. He failed to do that.

His best chance to really deliver the knock out punch was when Kerry was asked what the number one foreign policy threat to the USA was. Kerry said it was nuclear proliferation and only later in his answer did Kerry tie that to terrorism. Here is where Bush should have said something like, "In the post 9/11 world, the biggest threat to America is 9/11 style terrorism." But instead Bush said, "I agree with my opponent, the number one threat is nuculer perliferation."

Realistically, Kerry could not have "put it away" tonight. But Kerry could present himself as the "safe alternative." I think he did that. He did not talk like a caricature of himself, his answers were direct and to the point.

My impression is that the debate was a tie - advantage Kerry.

Comments? Impressions?


Atomic Bombshell said...

What was up with Kerry's bizarre hand movements? Was I the only one that noticed that crap? It was freaky.

Also, when they did the split-screen thing with Kerry on the left of the screen, and Dubya on the right - For a moment I thought maybe it switched to TVLand and it was Herman Munster on the left and Grandpa Munster on the right.


Raised By Republicans said...

I was hoping it would look like Gomez Addams versus Unlce Fester.

Bell Curve said...

A few thoughts about the debate.

1. Bush was coached not to say "nucular". He still said it 4-5 times, by my count.

2. Kerry didn't call out Bush for trumpeting voter fraud in Afghanistan. He must have a reason for not mentioning this.

3. Kerry looked presidential and Bush looked nervous, so I give the style points to Kerry. Kerry also gets the slight substance edge. But look for the Republicans to find some one little thing Kerry said and repeat it over and over until that becomes the story.

4. RbR is right -- all Kerry needed was a tie. He certainly got it.

5. Last but not least, Bush didn't answer the question of whether a Kerry victory would increase the likelihood of a terrorist attack...until his closing statement:

"If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. That's not going to happen, so long as I'm your president."

I think that's pretty clear.

US West said...

I think there were some great moments in the debate. I loved it when they were asked about their plans for Homeland security and Bush's retort was about how Kerry would have to find the money for this stuff considering there is a tax gap! OK, Bush. Remind me once again, how does this line help you?

I loved it when Bush at one point asked for a 30 sec extension and then stood dumb before the camera searching for his voice for 10 seconds.

I also thought it interesting that in 90 minutes, we never saw Kerry once flinch. Yet Bush was seen gulping water (of course, Kerry may have as well and he just wasn't caught). It tells you something about stamina and debate skills.

Bush was cocky in his opening statement. Then he only got strong again when he was delivering his well rehearsed closing. The bottom line is that this President cannot demonstrate the ability to think or speak on his feet. He got tongue tied, turning Osma into Hussen and vice versa. And he tried to get away with repeating the same canned lines over and over, hoping one of them would stick and failed to back them up with substance.

Kerry was quite good at putting together lists of facts and at saying basically the same stuff, but making it sound new each time.

And in the end, the President looked more like a copy cat on the Nuke Prof. statement. Of all the dangers in the world, he had to come up with the same one Kerry did? You mean the Terrorism threat is not on the top of his list? Hadn't he been saying that all along?

And then you have Cheney going around saying that there will be another attack. Yet last night, Bush said there wouldn't. Get on the same page guys!

Then there was the use of the future tense, indicating an acknowledgement that things are messed up: From Bush's closing statements: "In the next four years we will continue to strengthen our homeland defenses, we will strengthen our intelligence gathering services, we will reform our military, the military will be an all-volunteer army." These are hidden concessions to some of Kerry's accusations.

Then the blatant appeals to the Far right: statements like "We've climbed the mighty mountain. I see the valley below, and it's a valley of peace." Talk about a cadenza!

Anyway, those are my thoughts. That and the eagle backdrop was hideous. Who came up with that bit of schlock?

Dr. Strangelove said...

I almost didn't watch the debate. After four long years of listening to Bush, I just didn't think I could stomach one more smug lie. At the last minute, though, I decided that I'd better see it for myself rather than rely on what the pundits and spin-meisters had to say about it the next day. Still, I must admit my hand was poised over the "mute" button on my TV as I watched the debate, and I used it a fair amount too. I would listen to Bush until I heard him lie and then I muted him for about fifteen seconds. I had to mute Kerry a couple of times too. I considered it a "penalty mute" for a debate "foul".

Kerry's performance wasn't spectacular, but he sure did a better job than Bush, both in presentation and substance, so I don't know what more one could reasonably have asked for. For me, what I got out of the debate was a small sense of triumph. It felt good to hear someone tell Bush to his face that he was wrong about Iraq and that he wasn't telling us the truth. You could tell that this got Bush hot under the collar--I have a feeling he's not used to hearing anyone question his judgment.

For that alone it was worth tuning into the debate. And even if Kerry should lose, it was a relief to hear someone finally get the chance to give the lie to Bush direct. I am not sure if I am going to listen to any other debates... possibly the VP debate. But if so, I will be sure to keep the remote handy. Trust me: it can be quite theraputic. And it's safer than throwing things at your TV set.

Gaoshan said...

Kerry won. Clearly. However, I don't think that really has much of anything to do with whether or not Bush will get re-elected.

Most of his supporters are apparently members of the sub-100 club (as in sub-100 IQ) and would not have noticed some of the finer points of the debate. Like, the fact that Bush came across as dumber than a decapitated cockroach or the fact that when something went outside of Bush's limited mental grasp (or outside of the range of canned answers he had managed to memorize), it seemed like he hit a brick wall both verbally and mentally. You could SEE him scramble to find words to regurgitate.

SpinyNorman said...

I refused to watch it on tv. Too much of our perception of each candidate is determined by superficial things - how someone looked or reacted. I wanted to focus on the substance of the words so I listened on the radio.

Neither one impressed me very much. Bush 43 has one note - they attacked us and we will not rest until we hunt them all down. He and his administration have no grasp of anyconcept more sophisticated than a cudgel. He kept hammering home the same points over and over. I get it already!

Kerry was not as well prepared with details as I thought he would be. So his arguments were as much based on "trust me, I know the right thing to do" as Bush's were. He also let Bush drag him into a discussion on history - why we invaded Iraq, etc. He will not win that topic. He needs to focus on future - what can we do to get out of the mess Bush 43 got us into. The reckless son drove the car into the swimming pool. He loosed the virus from the lab. Choose whatever metaphor you want. Now how can we clean up this mess?

And one point about Jim Lehrer. He stayed on the Iraq topic way, way too long. There are many other foreign affairs topics that I wanted to hear about. Why no questions about Israel-Palestine? Mexico? China? Chechnya? Alliances like NATO? He probably underperformed more than either of the candidates.

Raised By Republicans said...

"Spiny Norman" wins the award for having the best obscure reference to Monty Python! (the giant hedgehog that the notoriusly insane gangster, Dinsdale, imagined was chasing after him)

Also, I think Norman is on to something about the lack of both depth and bredth from the questions during the "debate" and the analysis afterwards. China is a huge issue that deserved more attention. North Korea got a fair amount of attention but Iran did not get enough.

I think Kerry used enough specific examples to be effective without coming off overly wonkish like Gore did.

Gaoshan said...

What sort of attention do you think the topic of China deserved? Just asking out of curiosity (he said licking his chops). :)


Raised By Republicans said...

China is the 1 Billion pound Gorilla in the shadows in all things having to do with East Asia and even South Asia.

China is an ally of both Pakistan and North Korea. China may have been an important source for nuclear technology for both countries.

China has a rapidly expanding economy and an increasingly over stretched infrastructure. China is rapidly approaching a cross roads and the path it takes will effect the rest of the world because China has 1/5 of the world's population and it has nuclear weapons. If things go bad in China (and that is a real possibility) they could go VERY bad. If things go good in China (and that too is a possibility with some luck) it will be VERY good for the whole world. All US Presidents for the next 100 years at least will have be prepared to either deal with the dangers or take advantage of the opportunities developments in China present.

I believe that the Clinton administration had a balanced and intelligent policy towards China that deserves much more credit than it gets. In the 1990s the USA made a concerted effort to improve relations with Vietnam, India and Iran. This looked to me like the beginnings of a neo-containment policy directed at China. At the same time, the Clinton administration favored gradual inclusion of China in the World Trade Organization which gives China a stake in the status quo and allows China to find its "place in the sun" by peaceful means.

In the nearer future, recent reports in the Economist suggest that there are indications the Chinese economy is growing at an unsustainable rate (a bubble economy like the US in the late 90s) and is well past due for a "correction" or even a recession (ala the "dot com" collapse). If that happens it would probably spark a second East Asian economic crisis with all the problems that go along with that.

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