Thursday, October 14, 2004

Debate 3 (Continued)

Here's the initial reactions I had from last night.

Kerry did not do well because he tried too hard to show he knew everything on a subject by providing all sorts of substantiation to every argument he made. He was Mr. List. I mentioned last night that that can cause a problem for him. As with attending a concert, a listener needs only one off note to judge an otherwise admirable piece terrible and it will be the only thing to remember about the piece. Kerry provided too much opportunity for that to happen. (A case in point is how much Bush has lost because of the WMD reason for his action re: Iraq.) I'll mention just a two for now that did it for me last night:

Q1 Will we ever be as safe and secure as we were. Kerry starts out ok by redefining the Q though it irked me that he did it. But he will lose the percentage of the population which remembers the tough stances that had to be taken when 'we' were growing up ... Cuban missle crisis, bombs shelter signs, drills in school, massing troops in Europe. He also defeats his own argument by referencing Reagan's actions to keep us safe, which mostly he opposed. I chalked Kerry in the idiot column immediately.

Q8 Health insurance costs up 36% ... Almost immediately Kerry goes into importing drugs from Canada. The reason people this is an issue is because it is not a part of their insurance, it is out of pocket. It's not a backup to answering the question. I go away saying he doesn't know the problem.

Bush did better than the first debate (and about the same as the second, which I didn't have time to write on.) He provided backup but not too much, except for the benefits list from his tax cuts and there it was a direct refutation of a Kerry assertion so it causes less problems in this department. I don't think Bush did enough in refuting Kerry's backup. You have to knock as many props out from under Kerry's arguments as possible. He didn't but could have in the couple Reagan references Kerry made, Bush could have and should have pounded him on his 1991 Iraq history, his coddling of Ortega, particularly vis-a-vis homeland security, and Bush could have pounded him on every question if they had tinted Kerry as a backseat driver, as a guy who as I read somewhere, has the wisdom of hindsight. Those people never make decisions, they only kibbitz and, in that vein, Bush could have stolen some of Kerry's hindsight thunder if he showed where he made midstream corrections to policy.

Bush can make some up for some of missed opportunities in the next three weeks. Kerry has run out of ammunition and won't have much opportunity. I think this is Bush's race to lose now. The plan should be to swarm on all fronts; do not stick to just a few tested sound bites to rock Kerry on his heels.

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