Friday, October 01, 2004
Kerry needed a decisive victory in the debate in order to catch up to Bush in the polls, but that didn't happen. He needed to make news in order to shake up the way the election is headed. While Kerry was poised and composed he was not emotional nor passionate enough to make enough voters move to his column. President Bush, with a calm demeanor, did not gain any voters either but it's unlikely he will lose many voters that could erode his lead.
The moderator, Jim Lehrer: Inexplicably, Lehrer made the whole debate a referendum on Bush, putting the president on the defensive. Kerry's senate career and his overall on philosophy on foreign policy issues were overlooked. Instead, there was a discussion of Bush's philosophy on foreign policy on issues like the Bush Doctrine and pre-emption. Kerry was asked open-ended questions so that he might be allowed to give his campaign stump speech.
Here are some of the "tough" questions that Lehrer asked Kerry
- "Do you believe you could do a better job than President Bush in preventing another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States?"
- "Colossal misjudgments, what colossal misjudgments, in your opinion, has President Bush made in these areas?"
- "As president, what would you do specifically in addition to or differently to increase the homeland security of the United States than what President Bush is doing?" (emphasis added)
- "You have repeatedly accused President Bush, not here tonight but elsewhere before, of not telling the truth about Iraq, essentially, of lying to the American people about Iraq. Give us some examples of what you consider to be his not telling the truth."
While Kerry was being asked open-ended questions, Bush was constantly put on the defensive by questions that constantly placed Iraq in a skeptical light. The questions mentioning John Kerry were loaded questions that asked if Kerry's election would mean more terrorists attacks or were about his character.
The challenger, John Kerry: No doubt about it, Kerry presented himself as something he's not; resolute on the tough issues. He told the American people that he has had the same position on Iraq. He questioned the president's fight against Al Qaeda when Kerry has opposed the death penalty for terrorists. Kerry was unrelenting and attacked Bush repeatedly.
The incumbent, President Bush: LIBERAL. Those were words you did not hear coming out of Bush's mouth. Perhaps Bush did not get a chance to bring up Kerry's liberal senate record on foreign policy because he was not given a chance to do so. Yes, Bush could have brought it up in some other way. However, Bush did a good job of reminding the American people that Kerry has flip-flopped on issues like Iraq and has sent mixed messages to our allies and enemies around the world. Bush spoke movingly of how the president's hardest decision is to send troops into harm's way.
Conclusion: The debate was a give-and-take on foreign policy issues. But, the debate doesn't end the "debate." The candidates will still talk about the important topics of terrorism, Iraq, Homeland Security until the final day of the campaign. The American people still have plenty of time to hear from the candidates about these issues. Kerry is behind Bush in the polls. He needed a major effort to make an impression on the American people on why he should be commander-in-chief. John Kerry failed in that mission.
Update: There is great debate coverage from fellow bloggers: Outside the Beltway, Powerline, Diggers Realm, Allah, LaShawn Barber, Rambling Journal, Captain's Quarters, Instapundit, Uptown Girl, Rough Woodsman, Spoons, Political Wire, BitsBlog, CommandPost, Baseball Crank, Karol, SISU, Steve Bragg, Blogs for Bush, and PoliBlog.