On To St. Louis

(Sticking with the blue-state theme).  We survived our square dance on the coal bed of politics, even took the same elevator down afterwards.  No discussion, however, probably a good thing.  Plus, I still got to run, lift weights and free dinner.  The only post-debate comment in our group was when one of the women sniped at Theresa for wearing pink in the fall.  I said that, with your own personal jet, it doesn’t ever have to be fall.  This is probably an observation that I would never have heard on my fleece-and-Birkenstock-clad block in Seattle, so I learned something, I guess.

Rob’s done an excellent job of extemporaneous analysis of the debate, but I’ll add a few of my observations.  We might be smoking our own dope here, but I think Kerry ended up kicking some ass.  I didn’t realize it until the last 15 minutes or so, when Bush just seemed plain out of gas and more than a bit disoriented.

To me, the two knockout punches were:

  • The “greatest danger we’ll face” question, where Kerry said decisively and emphatically, “nuclear proliferation”.  Ya wonder if he chose that just to get Bush to say “nucular”.  But he had his facts and history in place, and the coup de gras was “I wrote a book about it”.  Bush had no discernable answer of his own to this question.
  • The Putin question, where Bush just said something smarmy about how “us guys will work it out between us”, while Kerry drew on an anecdote that gave him so much substance and diplomatic stature.

I also think Kerry did an adroit job of cauterizing the wound from his vote for war powers and against the $87 billion, succinctly and logically explaining that the authorization was inextricably linked to Bush’s promise to go to war only as a last resort.

Pundits have been saying that Bush’s approach to debates was one of overperforming against low expectations, but I think almost everyone had the feeling going into this one that Kerry would flounder while Bush jabbed him with pointy sticks.  So, this time, Kerry had the low-expectation thing in his favor.

Well, this was the “cerebral” debate, and if Kerry couldn’t win this one, he was in trouble.  The next one will be the silly town-meeting format, with pontificating from handpicked half-wits in the audience.  Since I didn’t leave ALL my fingernails on tonight’s chalkboard, I might torture myself some more next Thursday.