Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Burning Bush (Second Book of Asswhupping 3:16)

Or, Robert's Rules of Evisceration

I'll fire the first salvo. "America's Newspaper," The Washington Times, says Bush ripped Kerry. In the famous one-note chant of the world's greatest political commentator and my spiritual advisor: "WRONG!" I present as evidence the following things, with a screed to follow.

Contention 1: Will Saletan and Chris Suellentrop AND Dana Stevens call it for Kerry. Slate is a left-leaning political online mag, so that's no big surprise, but we all no Suellentrop and Saletan were both thoroughly dismayed at Kerry's last performance and this time find him much better.

Contention 2: A random Style Columnist from El WaPo says it best: "Bush Grins, Spins But Doesn't Win" in which Tom Shales describes Bush as "giggily." Did anyone else also notice his constant palm-pounding of the podium looked a lot like, oh, I don't know, A FORMER COMMUNIST DICTATOR? I think it's fair to compare Bush to Khrushchev, myself. Not Hitler, that's just crazy talk, but perhaps a capitalist, American Khrushchev.

Contention 3: Instapolls. CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll has Kerry up. A CBS poll has Kerry up at 39%, with only 25% calling it a Bush win and 36% calling it a tie. And, lastly, an ABC poll has it basically at a dead heat, with 42-41-14 Kerry-Bush-Tie, with a primarily REPUBLICAN sample. Ouch.

The bottom line is this. Bush had a hard time defending himself, especially on fiscal issues. Before the debate, they had the whole notion that they would decide to abandon the tired message of calling Kerry a flip-flopper and label him a Massachusetts liberal who is "out of the mainstream." If anything, Kerry made that task difficult last night, because what he said was very mainstream, and for the most part, moderate. Everytime Bush tried to paint Kerry with a red, Communist hammer and sickle it just wasn't panning out. Also, Bush clearly has caused so much government red-ink and expanded and produced new programs, he doesn't have the Conservative ground to stand on in order to call the other guy a liberal. Kerry also parried a lot of Bush's harder blows with minimal damage. Calling him out on Pell Grants and Job Training was another hard hit, since Bush has had a net decrease in office to those programs.

In all, Bush turned in his best performance so far last night, but Kerry did too. Xenophobia, Warrior Prince had a great line stating that "both parties are going to come out of this saying their guy was at the top of his game." Last night I think we just found out whose game is better, even if it took a long time for him to realize his potential (not unlike a certain favorite literary character of mine).