Posts from October 1, 2004



: The NY Times headline writer got it backwards today:

The Contrasts:

Two Messages,

Hope and Fear

The implication, it seems, is that Bush has a message of hope (that things are on track in Iraq) and Kerry a message of fear (that it’s screwed up).

I could argue that their messages in the debate were the exact opposite: that bush has a message of fear (we have to fight terrorists before they fight us) and Kerry a message of hope (that the U.N. et al will save our asses).

The stubborn vs. the flopper

The stubborn vs. the flopper

: Nick Denton is back blogging about politics after at least a decade away. He says what Kerry should have said last night:

John Kerry has to make voters see, in place of steadfastness, the president’s stubborness….

That was a promising start, for Kerry; he’s capable of drawing a little blood. But where was the kill? Kerry needs to affix a title to the president — George The Stubborn, say it! — as firmly as the Republicans have defined the Democratic challenger as a flip-flopper. And — it’s too late, too false, for Kerry to compete with the president in the steadfastness stakes — Kerry needs to make flip-flopping sound patriotic. Flip-flopping as American as burger-flipping. Kerry needs a narrative.

How’s this? “The president says I’ve changed my mind on Iraq. Well, yes. Blind certainty is fine for Soviet ideologues, and Islamic fanatics, but I am an American. I believe that pragmatism is the American genius. This country was built by individuals who found themselves on an unfamiliar continent, in a promised land that wasn’t always what they’d been promised.”

Judging the debate, not the debaters

Judging the debate, not the debaters

: Andrew Tyndall of the Tyndall Report — which tracks TV news — ran a survey of 2,800 volunteers (for scoring media‘s performance in last night’s debate. Andrew sent along the results:

The decision to devote so many questions to the War in Iraq was the biggest controversy arising from the first Presidential Debate of Campaign 2004 in Miami last night. A majority of supporters of John Kerry agreed that Iraq was given the appropriate amount of attention. A minority of George Bush’s supporters called the Iraq emphasis “just right.” Most of those who disagreed said Iraq was overemphasized….

Kerry supporters in the Citizens Scorecard panel were more positive about the debate than Bush supporters: more rated it helpful in learning about their own candidate’s stance on issues (77% v 62% for Bush supporters); and about their opponent’s stance (23% v 16%); more said it helped them decide how to cast their vote (37% v 20%); and more said their man won (96% v 70%)….

The scorecard asked whether sufficient time was devoted to seven specific issue areas. Nuclear/WMD Proliferation received the highest rating as the issue which was examined “just right”….

Both groups of supporters rated the treatment of their own candidate’s personal attributes as appropriate. The debate received high marks for spending “just right” attention on such factors credibility, decisiveness and integrity in the candidate each group supported. Both groups complained that these same attributes were glossed over when it came to questioning the man they opposed….

Moderator Lehrer received high marks for fairness. More than 80% of both groups of supporters felt he showed no favoritism to either candidate. More Kerry supporters thought his question selection was “extremely” relevant than Bush supporters did (55% v 44%), a rating which jibes with their reactions to the amount of attention paid to Iraq. Lehrer was well rated for being “extremely” plainspoken (62% by Kerry supporters, 53% by Bush’s), low rated for being “extremely” imaginative (16% and 15%).

One more interesting statoid:

Fully 47% of the Bush supporters reported that they watched the debate on Fox News Channel. No channel attracted more than a quarter of Kerry supporters.

Just as a business decision, that says CNN should throw in the towel and come out tomorrow calling itself the liberal channel and its ratings would soar.

I’m not undecided — I’m unhappy

I’m not undecided — I’m unhappy

: I have a commenter yelling at me that I’m not a real Kerry voter, based on what I wrote after the debate. I’m not pure.

That’s the mistake my lifelong party is making: pushing orthodoxy over inclusion. That’s no way to win elections, folks.

You see, I want to vote for Kerry.

Last night, like many voters (on both sides), I wanted to hear something to affirm my decision. And I wanted to know that I was voting responsibly — that is, voting my conscience on issues that matter.

I was fine with Kerry voting for the war (unlike many of his supporters). I was fine with him complaining that the execution of the aftermath has been a mess (unlike many of Bush’s supporters).

But then I wanted to hear him first affirm the need and obligation to win in Iraq to support democracy in that nation and in the Middle East and to support the rights of the Iraqi people, to whom we are now responsible. I didn’t hear that.

And then I wanted to hear a clear plan for succeeding in Iraq. Instead, I heard the “world test.” And, as I said last night, I find the Kumbaya gambit not just lacking but scary.

So I’m troubled.

Come the domestic debate, I have little doubt that I’ll be much happier with Kerry and much more troubled by Bush.

But then I have to weigh the importance of these issues.

I am not callling myself undecided because I think the alleged undecideds are a pain in the ass, waffling to get attention from morning shows and pollsters. I’m still a likely Kerry voter.

But instead of yelling at me because I’m not, politically, correct, the Democrats would be wise to argue in favor of Kerry. They’ve become too used to arguing against Bush.

In the debate aftermath, Kerry will keep complaining about the war and pushing involvement from an unnamed coalition to get us off the hook. Bush will, I’m sure, harp on the notion that Kerry will go try to past a “world test” before taking decisive action.

The real bottom line: Neither candidate is good enough. I’m not undecided. I’m unhappy.

: See Fred Wilson’s contrary reaction.

: From over the border, Joe Katzman agrees:

My American friends may not take this very well, but… your candidates suck! Canadian politics is also renowned for its suckiness, but at least when we suck, we don’t take the whole world with us.

: Noted: The Wall Street Journal (free link) summarizes not only big media reaction to the debate but also bloggers’.