October 1, 2004

Gut Feeling

My gut reaction to the debate.

Kerry lost. Dammit. He spent too much time attacking Bush. The issue if Bush was wrong to go to war in Iraq is somewhat irrelevant. We're at war. It takes a lot to switch a Commander in Chief midway through a war. Therefore, Kerry needed to talk more about what he would do, rather than what Bush has done wrong. People already know things are messed up--it needs a new plan. Why in the hell didn't Kerry address the charge "What message does that send the troops/allies?" He has a tendency to not address the obvious, i.e. the flip-flop charge.

When Bush says, snidely, "That's not true," to some charge by Kerry, the average voter doesn't know either way. They'll probably side with who's in charge. Bush seemed like an asshole, but he knew his shit, and that may be enough. I'm talking about "knowing his shit" to people who don't know the facts, which is a whole lot of people. Bush seemed in command at times. He seemed to be swiping Kerry off his shoulder like he was a flea he had to deal with. I thought some undecideds might like this.

My point is this: Bush has never been likable, he's always seemed like a prick and still people want to vote for him. So I thought his aggressive/defensive posture in the debate wouldn't be read as negative. The left are looking at Bush through the lens of despising him. This election is going to be decided by people who don’t hate Bush. Most people don’t think of him as Chimpy or a criminal. If they’re still undecided after what they’ve seen from Bush in four years, how is this debate going to change their minds?

This morning…

Once again I should have a little more faith in people. I never think that people will see Bush for what he really is so I assumed people would see his performance as strong. Bush seems to always get a pass. To me, last night wasn’t any worse than normal--he’s always that bad. But people can be discerning. So far, I've been wrong about the debate and I'm glad.

I always judge myself too harshly out in public. I get home from a party and I think shit, shit, shit about all the stupid things I said. Which are never as many as I think. I replay these moments over and over again. Last night, I judged my guy too harshly, and I judged the other guy as better than myself. Exactly what I do in life. I should never be a pundit. I take things too personally.

20 comments:

Empty Drum said...

While I remain unpersuaded by Kerry's platform (such as it is), I thought he carried himself really well. He has been such a cipher during the whole campaign, it was good to see him give a presentation that was more than just a sound bite.

Both candidates missed several opportunites to expose the gaping flaws and incinsistencies in each other's records and positions. Is it possible that they were *over*prepared for this debate? Someone referred to present day debates as being parallel press conferences, and this was no exeception.

Oh, and btw, I'm basing this on a written transcript. I was already asleep and dreaming about old chryslers with organic, bleeding radios by the time the debate started.

Greg said...

I'd have to disagree with your take on this. I thought Bush may have been strong in the first 1/2 hour, but really wilted after that. He couldn't fill two minutes up with meaningful comment on most questions after that. And his repeated uses of catch phrases became so pbvious a crutch. On the other hand Kerry was consistent and focused, which I think were key for him. He wasn't trying to convert the faithful but those folks who would like to fire Bush but have been turned off Kerry by the effective Bush campaign. They didn't see a flip-flopping incompetent last night and today I bet they are looking at the election in a different light. This Kerry debate win would have been in jeopardy over the weekend with a spin campaign but I believe Bush was just so bad that nothing can turn this one around. They'll try and God knows the media mice may try to help them, but as I said elsewheres, the cat is out of the bag and the Big Dog ate his lunch. God Bless the Debates.

Henry Baum said...

It was much less of a press conference than people feared. It actually had elements of a back and forth debate. A lot is lost in a transcript. One of the main things was Bush's frustration. I thought people would take Bush's insolence as a positive. I was wrong.

This morning I heard Bush tell a rally, "I need your help." It sounded desperate. Strangely enough, he sounded like an organic, bleeding radio.

Henry Baum said...

Greg, first comment responding to Empty Drum. I agree with everything you said. You're comment that Bush couldn't fill up two minutes with meaningful comment is really no different than Bush is like all the time. Finally, it seems, people are realizing he's full of empty rhetoric.

Watching pieces of the debate a second time, I realize Kerry was far stronger. I was very nervous the first time around. The fate of the world was at stake.

Empty Drum said...

There's no question about it -- asking President Bush to give a sustained 90-minute performance is unrealistic.

Even as a grudging Bush supporter, I find it almost impossible to watch him speak.

Although I don't see his prolixity as a sign of deep intelligence, Kerry benefited as much from the format as much as Bush suffered from it.

He was forced to keep his verbiage in check, while also having time to respond fully to the questions (or at least as fully as the politician's instinct would allow him.

This is, after all, a man who has based his entire career around speaking. If GWB had to rely on his ability to communicate...well, it's not really conceivable actually....

I am still living in the Land of Make Believe, where the Dems nominated Lieberman / Obama, and I could go to the polls feeling good about what I was there to do.....

Empty Drum said...

Henry, speaking of frustration, you should check out the new DNC attack video up on democrats.org, "Faces of Frustration".
Pure political crack: cheap, powerful, and devastating.

Henry Baum said...

"Even as a grudging Bush supporter, I find it almost impossible to watch him speak."

I don't know how you can ever write this sentence and still want to vote for him. He runs the world. More importantly, Bush has taken his eye off of North Korea and Iran. Money and resources have gone to Iraq. The man has failed in his handling of the war. If the War in Iraq and the WOT are connected, as he suggests, then he's failing the War on Terror as a whole.

What has Bush done that implies he'll do well with another term? Do you want a policy of preemptive war? This to me seems the main reason to vote for Bush--offensive rather than diplomacy. If that's the policy, the draft is coming back.

Henry Baum said...

I should add, a preemptive war that the U.S. fights alone.

Empty Drum said...

Hey, I never said I *want* to vote for the guy. You know my overwhelming sense is one of a lack of suitable candidates.

And so who do I vote for if I do not feel that the war in Iraq was strictly necessary but am, for example, in favor of preemptive air strikes against military tagets in N Korea and Iran?

Henry Baum said...

You want air strikes right now? When North Korea might fire back with a nuclear strike against us or their neighbors--to alienate those countries against us? There's the potential for world war, especially if those air strikes were put forth by George Bush who the world basically despises.

If it came to it, Kerry would deliver air strikes, if that's what you're looking for. In doing so, he would not be regarded as an isolationist cowboy.

Empty Drum said...

Thanks for your thoughts.

It seems to me that "Diplomacy" is the reason N Korea and Iran have those nukes, or are close to it, in the first place! At least the form of diplomacy practiced up until now....

If Kerry could get some kind of meaningful participation out of China in order to neutralize the N Korean threat, that would be incredibly good. It certainly could happen.

I just have a feeling that China is all to happy to screw us any way possible, and I don't know that this is necessarily dependent on who is the POTUS. GWB's advocacy (tepid as it is) for Taiwan is certainly a factor in things. Would Kerry be willing to sell out Taiwan in order to get China to deal with N Korea? And would that be a good thing or a bad thing?

And, no, I am not ordering immediate air strikes. So you can rest easy.

If for no other reason than the knowledge that I am not in charge of anything :-)

Henry Baum said...

Final thought, maybe. I just think at this stage anything that George Bush does is going to look like unwarranted American aggression--unless we're attacked first, in which case he hasn't done his job.

The war in Iraq creates a climate in which we cannot be aggressive because people will fear that we'll fail again and the reasons to go to war are baseless. Again: especially if GW is running the war. This hardly acts as a deterrant to anyone pursuing new weapons programs.

Kerry talks about "credibility" and this isn't just political rhetoric. More people hate America than before, not just jihadists. Things are getting worse, not better, and this is reason to change. I trust Kerry to deal better with any situation. Last night, at least, he proved he's a viable leader.

All right, I'm done. For now. Enjoying it again.

Empty Drum said...

Dang, my job is really boring.

What's going on over there?

Oh, yeah, I saw Mt St Helens doing a little spewing on tv....

Henry Baum said...

This week I get to write about satellite telephones. I don't want to talk down about my job. People have gotten fired for that. Actually my job's pretty interesting. I get to write about a new topic every week. I can actually write for a living.

Right now, gardeners are loud outside, should be outlawed. What's more, I should be working and not writing this comment. Daughter's asleep and it's the only time I have to work. Don't tell anyone but I wrote some of the above comments while she was tugging at my shirt.

palmettobug said...

Hi, its me Heather B. I was hollering at the tv, chasing fiance into the next room. He watched "Escape From L.A." instead. It was the ultimate smackdown, in my opinion. Bush was a mumbling stuttering moron. I trolled the yahoo news message boards, which is sort of like hanging around public toilets to eavesdrop, and I was pleased with the real-time comments. Bush doesn't even know who attacked us on 9/11. He could have debated the smartass debate team creep from my high school and would still have lost. A vote for bush is vote for Rain Man. He is an embarassment to the entire nation. I'm no Tony Blair fan, but can you imagine Bush handling Prime Minister Question Time? Thinking on his feet without questions in advance? Is it too much to ask that our prezzie has a clue who even attacked us? Would FDR have had lame responses likes "You're sending mexed missages!" (Direct quote, not a typo.) To paraphrase Valerie Solanis: this guy has the reverse midas touch, everything he touches turns to shit.

palmettobug said...

And while I'm on the soapbox, what the hell is wrong with poets these days? Yeah, I'm still at work too, but have given up on the poets for this week. I send them an invitation to come read their stuff, offer them plane tickets and free jacuzzi hotel rooms with playstations, and all the heavy hors d'oeuvres they can stuff in their pockets, and still they want money. I try to tell them, "Look, we're a non-profit. You can sell your books, screw your groupies, and at the end of the day, you should pay us for all the free publicity and exposure you get." The novelists are great; they truly get it. Barbara Taylor Bradford has sold 75 million books, and she still gets out there and rubs elbows with the people, she still looks at writing as work. But then she gets millions of dollars in book and film deals. The poets, I know, get very little from selling chapbooks. But you can't tell me that some of thsoe MFA positions they tend to hold don't pay well. I'm really just complaining here. I'm sad that I cannot pay the poets; we just don't have foundation money or state budget appropriations. The twenty-something slam champions are dying to come here. The bigger names don't care where they are as long as its about poetry. The mid-level names must be hurting financially. And Bush's scatalogical blithering must make them awfully jealous.

Henry Baum said...

Man, I hate palmetto bugs, they’re like little demons. I lived in North Carolina for two years. The place was infested. Giant flying cockroaches. Worse than poets.

I was trying to watch the debate through the eyes of someone who is thinking of voting for Bush. Someone who doesn’t automatically think he’s a weasel. He’s made all these verbal gaffes in the past but they never seemed to have any affect. So I thought the same might happen with the post-debate spin. Thankfully, and almost mysteriously, people are getting wise to him.

Look at me, I’m becoming a regular Eschaton or Kos.

palmettobug said...

Are they not the most awful critters? They should be our state bird. As children, we sprayed them with shaving cream, so we could track their travels. It seemed to have no effect on them.

Natalia said...

Kerry might lose this election (or "election," as it might turn out to be), but he did not lose this debate. Dammit.

Anonymous said...

being female, your whole life is a comparison. oddly enough, i never really say stupid things. maybe because i don't really talk around beautiful women. or maybe no-one listens wehn i speak.

xo. war.

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