Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Sunday, October 03, 2004
 
The post debate polls are interesting. Polls taken the night of the debate did show Kerry winning by solid but modest margins: 45-36 (ABC), 44-26 (CDS), 53-37 (CNN). But a few days later, it's a runaway: 61-19 (Newsweek), 54-15 (LAT). And a new series of polls show that the debate has paid off, with Kerry tied or narrowly in the lead.

Actually, this debate was a complete success for the good guys. The pre-debate expectations were low (Al Franken was bragging about that on Friday), Kerry came through strongly in the debate, and the post debate spin game, including a nice video that was up Friday morning on the DNC home page, sealed the victory.

The next phase will have different challenges. Edwards will face high expectations on Tuesday, expectations that will be tough to meet. But he was chosen over any number of other candidates (Clark, Biden, Graham, Richardson) who clearly were better prepared to take over if a catastrophe happens on January 21 on his speaking skills, so it's time to show them. Cheney has weaknesses on Halliburton, several very public misstatements, his own close involvement with a string of failed policies, and his continued insistence against all evidence that Saddam Hussein was tied to 9/11. Edwards has to open him up on some of those to keep momentum going into the third debate.

The third debate will be an interesting performance. The expectations spin for the third debate will be that Bush is an accomplished debater who had an inexplicably weak performance and is sure to come roaring back. It has the advantage of being, at least arguably, true.

The pressure will be on Bush rather than Kerry. Bush certainly responded well to pressure after 9/11, and gave by far the best speech of his life. On Friday, the challenge will be more personal and, obviously, he'll have to work without a teleprompter. My own feeling is that Bush is fundamentally a small, mean man who won't be able to rise to the occasion. But I'll have the opportunity to find out if that's character insight or just my irrational Bush hatred.



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