Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Double your pleasure

I'm starting to double-up on my items for posting in order to conserve time. Hopefully you (and by "you", I mean the 3 readers I have) don't mind the train leaving the station and making two stops. Better than going in two directions, as the Kerry-Edwards train appears to go. (bah-dum-bum)

Item #1: I myself have posted on the "bumbles" that President Bush sometimes makes when speaking other-than-prepared remarks. That being said, I don't think he should shy away from Kerry's wish for another debate--or even weekly debates, if that's really the route that Kerry wants to go. Now I know why Bush may think it is strategically wise to limit not just the number but also the type of debates: a) by most accounts Bush is winning, so why help the opposition? Kerry has got to find a way to get his message out, and that road will be a tough one to hoe in 55 days if he's forced to dole out Kerryism piece by piece to the entire country; b) the likelihood of unbalanced questions is definitely high--especially in the town hall-type setting that Bush is trying to avoid; c) the President is, after all, known to bumble from time to time, etc etc.

But I tend to disagree with avoiding debates, for two reasons: a) debates are good for the political process, and the "courageous" Mr. Bush doesn't need to be looking as if he's seeking a way to shirk the system this election. The message should be "we'll talk about the issues any time, any place and for any length"--THAT is how you sway swing voters (well, that AND actually talking well about the issues of the day); and 2) I think debates are a great time to see something about the candidate--how he responds to questions, how he picks up on other things that have been said that night, how well he actually commands his own beliefs, etc. etc. For all those reasons, I think Bush will do fairly well in debates with Kerry. Kerry hasn't been asked ANY questions-- much less hard ones-- in front of a live audience in a loooong time; Bush has done two major (and definitely not biased in his direction) interviews in the last month (did I mention that he sometimes bumbles when he's not talking off of prepared remarks?) Kerry so far hasn't stood for anything long enough to really define himself; Bush has, and for that reason he COULD (not saying he'd be able to accomplish this) take the debates as an opportunity to actually "frame" Kerry again (which, if done properly, could be devastating to Kerry with election night drawing closer). But in the end, I don't think Bush will hurt himself in the debates, primarily because he actually BELIEVES in the stances he takes. Kerry may finally come off as something other than a talking scarecrow, but I don't think Kerry could possibly out-conviction Bush. In other words, I think the potential for Kerry to blow up is far greater than it is for Bush, especially if Bush is really on his fact-checking game. And let's not forget--Bush hasn't lost a debate in the last 10 years. So I, for one, would welcome a third debate (provided it is moderated by the right type of personality)--heck, I'd even welcome a fourth, fifth or sixth debate.

Item #2: so there's a new 527 ad out by a group called Texans for Truth, and it is taking a strike at Bush's National Guard record. (And collectively the audience cries: "again?") That's not what I found interesting, though. Tonight I could SWEAR that I heard on FoxNews that the Kerry campaign was calling major media outlets "informing" them of the existence of these Texans. Now, I'm not a brilliant person, but that sounds an awful lot like coordination to me. "You make the message, and we'll make sure it gets played nationwide" is probably not something that should be allowed if the "you" is an independent political action committee and the "we" is one of the two campaign headquarters. Now I'll admit that I wasn't paying super-close attention to the report, so maybe I mistook the words that were actually said--but I'm going to keep a lookout to see if this angle see any more light.


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