Thursday, October 14, 2004


Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was already drinking before the debate began, or that I watched it with Leslie and Sean Uberoi Kelly with the three of us mocking Bush inna MST3K style, but to me this seemed liked the clearest Kerry win of all three debates. He was calm, in control, and very good at saving his haymakers for the final 30-second responses, knowing Bush wouldn't have an opportunity to counter. Bush just hates that.

And this was gold:
BUSH: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those...exa-gger-A-tions.

This wasn't Bush channelling his father, this was Bush channelling Dana Carvey's impression of his father. The kicker, of course, is that Kerry's statement wasn't an exaggeration at all.

"I am truly not that concerned about him."
- President Bush, responding to a question about bin Laden's whereabouts, 3/13/02

Now begins the avalanche of right-wingers falling over each other to parse the difference between "worried" and "concerned," to condemn the mainstream media for ignoring this difference, and to attack Kerry for twisting the president's words.

This was tiresome:
BUSH: My opponent, the senator, talks about foreign policy. In our first debate he proposed America pass a global test. In order to defend ourselves we have to get international approval. That's one of the major differences we have about defending our country.

In other words, pay no attention to what my opponent actually said, but to what I say he said.

NRO's The Corner has gone from apologism to outright comedy. Big thanks to Jonah Goldberg for this gem:

I think you could see him thinking. What I mean is that when he got asked a question he should have known the answer to as a matter of character or values he had to run through his mental database for the answer. On abortion, on religion, on affirmative action you could tell that he was calculating the best political answer rather than his heartfelt answer.

On policy questions he usually didn't miss a beat. But on values questions he really seemed like he didn't know what to say about where his own gut and heart are. I think that sort of thing hurts him a lot with people who are still trying to judge the man, not the policies.

Imagine that, a candidate for the presidency, actually thinking about how best to explain his values, rather than just reflexively running through some tired sunday school pablum. Within the conservative pathology, thinking about one's answers is a fault.

Leaving aside the presumption, which NRO-niks take as given, that Kerry is most concerned with "calculating the best political answer" (both candidates try to phrase their answers in the most politically advantageous way, and feigning shock at this is just silly), I think Goldberg's item says a lot about the differences between the conservative and liberal mindset. Even though Bush clearly has a lesser understanding than his opponent of the details and consequences of his own policies, he is to be favored because, presumably, he "answers from his gut," and "knows what he believes," whereas his opponent has to think about it (as often happens when one actually considers facts in generating an opinion).

Listen, I'm no Bush-hater. I get really annoyed when I see those "Bush Is Not My President" bumperstickers, which I do quite a bit around Seattle. He is my president, and this bothers me because there's no ignoring the elephant in the room anymore: Bush was underqualified and underprepared when he announced his candidacy, was underqualified and underprepared when he took office, has proved himself underqualified and underprepared throughout his administration, and we as a people have been underserved by him. I've got nothing against the man personally, and think he'd probably make a good mayor of a very, very small town, sports-game tester for XBox, or greeter in a Las Vegas casino. But it's time for him to go.

Kevin Drum is on lie patrol.

Once again, Wonkette's sort-of live blogging is not to be missed.

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