Saturday, October 9, 2004

Reflections on Round Two

Bush did better than he did in Coral Gables; but to do any worse he would have had to do a Chevy Chase pratfall and piss his pants. He managed to keep a straight face most of the time and he got off the well-rehearsed line about the scowl almost as if it sounded spontaneous. But he still sounded whiney and hectoring; at times it seemed that if the red light hadn’t come on, he would have ended his statement with “neener neener.”

Kerry looked calm and in control. Nothing seemed to rattle him; even as Bush repeated his lines over and over – lines that have been discredited by the facts and reality. He was engaged with his audience and made eye contact, doing something that Bush has trouble doing. That comes from his experience as a litigator, and he knows how to talk to a jury. Bush came across as one of those Sunday morning televangelists who stands up in front of a crowd and talks at them, confident that they are listening and in agreement with him, but doesn’t expect any response other than the occasional “Amen.”

As for lost opportunities or things that will make the blooper reel, I think Kerry missed the chance to tell Bush that “Yes, I saw the same intelligence about pre-war Iraq, but your administration cooked the books.” I also think his long answer on the abortion question will haunt him; not because he gave the wrong answer, but because the Bush campaign will paint him as a long-winded “nuancer,” and in contrast Bush used his response time to come back with a simplistic anti-abortion bumpersticker that he knows will rally the nutsery.

Bush blew the “three mistakes” question, and if the Democrats don’t pick up on that they will have missed a golden opportunity. Here is a man who has been president for almost four years and the only thing he can think of is perhaps a couple of appointments? What kind of pre-adolescent mindset is that? And how can a man who professes to be a recovering alcoholic and a born-again Christian fail to acknowledge his failings? Isn’t that part of the process of both recovery and redemption – to admit your failings and, more importantly, try to make amends? Leaving all of the failed policies and downright lies aside, George W. Bush hasn’t shown the faintest sign of growth or maturity as a human being in the last four years – he’s still the same stubborn and unengaged slacker he was in 2000. If for no other reason than that, he needs to lose this election.