Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Rumble in Coral Gables

Tonight marks the occasion of the first Presidential “debate” between incumbent George W. Bush and Democratic challenger John F. Kerry.

I strongly feel that tonight is Sen. Kerry’s last chance to turn the momentum of this race back to his side. The 90-minute debate is on the subject of foreign policy. Conventional wisdom says this favors Bush. He holds a significant lead in regards to who can better handle America’s struggle with terra. Kerry must close this deficit to around ten percentage points. If Kerry continues to lag by 30 percent on the issue of terra, there is no chance he can win on Nov. 2.

There is a 32-page set of rules for the “debate” this evening. Even Kerry’s height advantage has been nullified by the use of podiums. The podiums are of equal height, creating the impression that both candidates are equal in stature. That is not the case. At 6’4”, Kerry is taller than Bush. And the taller man typically wins the presidency. Also, candidates will not be allowed to act direct questions. They can only engage in rhetorical questions. For instance, Kerry cannot ask, “Mr. Bush, why did you lie about WMDs?” Kerry would have to phrase it like this, “Suppose a sitting president led us into a war under false pretenses. What would he say if asked about that?” We see how infantile the debate process has become. The Bush campaign is trying to stop television networks from using cutaway shots. The cutaway shot proved fatal for George H.W. Bush in 1992, when a camera showed him glancing at his watch twice during his debate with Bill Clinton and H. Ross Perot. The networks are currently defiant and say they will act as they please. However, Bush has the prerogative to back out of future debates if rules are infringed upon. There are 32 pages more of this crap. Suffice to say this is not a debate, rather a sound-byte telethon.

I cannot overemphasize how important tonight is for Sen. Kerry. Around 50 million people will be watching this debate. That numbers goes consistently down in subsequent debates. By all accounts, Kerry is trailing this race, although not by as much as Gallup would have you believe. When the polls come out next week, Kerry needs to be within the margin of errors of reputable polls. Kerry has proven to be a solid debater. He performed very well in his series of eight debates in 1996 with Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. However, never before has Kerry’s entire being been so distorted by an opponent. It’s hard to tell if Kerry can come back this time.

By 2:00 this morning, I’ll be able to say who wins this election. If the media all trumpet a triumphant Bush performance, then this race is all over. On the other hand, if Kerry performs well and gets favorable news coverage, then the ball is back in Kerry’s court. As long as he can change the downward momentum of the past six weeks, Kerry will be fine and ready to pounce until Nov. 2 .


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