It’s safe to say Kerry kicked Bush’s ass on national TV tonight. I have to say that I’m surprised Bush looked and sounded so bad. His speech was halting or stuttering, and god knows didn’t he realize he was on camera for reaction shots? He was grimacing and smirking. Maybe I was beginning to believe the spin about him “being comfortable in his own skin,” but he looked more like he was 1) on something; 2) needed a drink 3) needed some meds. Was he just overprepped, under/over medicated or what? His body language suggested he wanted to either clock Kerry, or walk offstage at times. I think having to be on the defensive, one-on-one, really sent him over the edge. It was as if his handlers, particularly whoever stood in for Kerry during the Bush’s prep, didn’t hit him hard enough so he wouldn’t be so rattled in the real debate. He was off even his lame 2000 debate performance.
I didn’t expect him to be fantastic, but, this being the foreign policy debate, he’s got nowhere to go but down. No lie, I think there is something going wrong “under the hood” with Bush; he looked so bad. His stumbling and bumbling was at a such a level of impatience and discomfort that he looked unbalanced. It was funny at first, but after it all settled in and I watched a replay, it was actually frightening.
And the spinners really had a hard time defending that performance.
Kerry on the other hand, was wildly successful at being succinct and skewered great points home. He way surpassed my expectations. Some coverage (MSNBC):
Sen. John Kerry assailed President Bush’s prosecution of the war in Iraq in the first presidential debate Thursday night, accusing the president of “a colossal error of judgment” as the candidates finally faced each other after a torrent of speeches and hostile television advertisements.
Kerry wasted no time taking on the marquee issue of the evening, saying in his opening response to a question from moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS that “I can make America safer than President Bush has made us.”
Kerry rejected Republican contentions that he would consult too much with foreign leaders before taking action to secure America, promising that “I’ll never give a veto to any country over our security.”
In response, Bush said that, better or worse, “people know where I stand” in putting U.S. interests first. He said the United States must “constantly stay on the offensive” against terrorists.