Friday, October 01, 2004

Round 1 Goes to Kerry: Still more work to be done

I just got back from watching tonight’s Presidential debate between John Kerry and George W. Bush. If I were an energized journalist, I would take my notes and comprise a news article on the event. But being the slacker that I am, this blog entry will consist mainly of personal thoughts and experiences.

I watched the debate in a hallway at the Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL, only a few miles from the Coral Gables debate site. I watched it with my friend, Adriana, and her sister Angela. There were about 70 other students in attendance. We had a good time. It’s always better to watch with friends, rather than sitting alone with a bottle of scotch in one hand and the remote in the other. In our discussions, opinions were similar. We were very impressed with the performance of Sen. Kerry. Of course, our party came into tonight strong supporters of the Democratic nominee.

I heard that afterwords, Kerry was at the Miami Arena. Evidently, Lenny Kravitz and Sheryl Crow were there to show their support. Had we known earlier, Adriana and I would have probably decided to go there instead. They showed the debate on a big screen television.

The first poll taken after the debate showed a significant victory for Kerry. The Gallup poll taken showed 53 percent saying Kerry won, with only 37 claiming Bush the victor. There are some incredible numbers farther down the poll. Of the debate watchers, 41 percent left with a more favorable opinion of Kerry. 13 developed less favorable feelings, with 41 % remaining unchanged. That 41 % number is great for the Senator. He clearly was able to connect with the American voter. This tally shows that Kerry has shored up his weak support, along with bringing in some swing voters. Bush fared worse in Gallup’s poll. Only 21 % developed a stronger opinion of Bush, while 17 % say their opinion of him diminished.

These numbers show me a couple of things. Bush hasn’t really gained that much support over recent weeks. The attacks on Kerry only served to erode his soft or noncommittal supporters. I expect a lot of these individuals to go back into Kerry’s column of support. I don’t think Bush lost much support in this debate, but that doesn’t matter. I expect the polls to go back to post-DNC Convention form. We’ll see a race that’s still very close, but definitely winnable for Kerry. I said before that tonight could be the end of Kerry’s presidential run. Three hours later, Kerry’s campaign is alive and well. I won’t go as far as some and say that Kerry won the election with tonight’s performance. What Kerry did was to stop the bleeding of the past six weeks and possibly turn the momentum in his favor.

These next two debates will be very important, as well. Remember, in 2000 Gore was declared the winner of the first debate. However, he went on to unofficially lose debates two and three. On the bright side, tonight was considered the toughest debate for Kerry. Foreign policy is an issue that’s seen as Bush’s strong suit. For Kerry to definitively win tonight’s debate goes a long way to helping him bridge the security gap. I’ve maintained that if Kerry can close to within 10 percent on the security issue that he can easily defeat Bush. The next two debates should favor Kerry. The debate on domestic policy should be brutal for Bush. Think it was hard to defend his foreign policy record? Wait until you see him try to explain the failed economic policies of this Administration.

I was astounded at how unprepared Bush was for tonight’s debate. One commentator said that he had thirty minutes of material for a ninety-minute debate. At the beginning, it looked like Bush might have a good night. But as we got into the second half of the debate, it was like Bush ran out of material. All he could do was make baseless allegations that Kerry changes his positions and the world is safer without Saddam Hussein. It was funny in that he must have repeated the same thing over and over throughout the last 45 minutes. Kerry’s answers were relatively fresh and he got better as the debate proceeded. Bush looked visibly bored at times during this debate.

As a whole, tonight was an excellent evening for Kerry and a mild disappointment for Bush. Clearly, Karl Rove wanted to knock out Kerry with tonight’s debate. Clearly, that did not happen. We can expect four weeks of the most dirty politics in American history. Now that Bush hasn’t been assured victory, I tremble to anticipate the type of stunts that Bush will pull. I will be shocked if Osama Bin Laden isn’t found sometime between now and November 2.

Most of my readers probably watched the debate. I refrained from commenting on a lot of specifics. I’d need to watch a second time before creating an accurate portrayal of tonight’s events. In my opinion, Bush did a poor job of articulating his Iraq policy. On the other hand, Kerry made strides in explaining his vote in favor of the Iraq War Resolution.

After the debate, they stuck us in a classroom and made us answer questions about the debate. Of the ten people, almost everyone supported Kerry. We had one individual, John, who went in leaning Bush but now is favoring Kerry. Everyone was almost unanimous in his or her praise of Kerry and disappointment in Bush. I’d be interested to see what the other debate groups had to say. We had one young man who was on active duty in the military. Unlike most military people, he was very critical of Bush and aghast that Cheney would say that electing Kerry invites another terrorist attack. My mini-clan of cronies all came out impressed with Kerry’s debate smack down of the Prez.

We’re hoping to have another Debate Watch for Tuesday’s VP Debate. Adriana and I will talk to our professor in hopes of organizing subsequent debate gatherings at the MacArthur Campus in Jupiter.

On an unrelated note, I think the next fear that I should give up is that of the cigarette. All of my friends were smoking. I felt so uncool standing outside, being the only one without a cigarette in hand. I mean, everybody’s doing it. That Joe Camel is really my hero. He puts the needed pizzazz on a habit that has been so demonized by the government. Where’s the evidence that smoking really does cause cancer? Just because two things happen doesn’t mean that they were always related. I think the girls would like me better if I picked up this liberating habit. What must Adriana think of me? I couldn’t admit that I was a cigarette virgin. Just like I gave up my fear of booze, my next goal is to enter the wonderful world of nicotine.

Okay, that last paragraph wasn’t really true. I needed an extra paragraph and was seeing if you’d notice the sarcasm. Smoking is one habit that actually can be detrimental to your health. Alcohol isn’t going to damage you unless you do it in excess, possibly causing cirrhosis of the liver. Also, smoking can be much more addictive than alcohol. It’s easy for most people to have one shot of Jack Daniels, Tennessee Whiskey and just walk away from the bottle. It isn’t always that way with cigarettes.

Upcoming Debate Schedule
October 5: John Edwards vs. Dick Cheney
October 8: John Kerry vs. George Bush (Town Hall style)
October 13: John Kerry vs. George Bush (Domestic policy)



Blogger Eric Cioffoletti said...

You had me worried there for a second about that cigarette line. I'm not able to detect sarcasm in written form or in real life either for the matter most of the time.

You all were at school at 10:30 at night for the debate? Wow, I'm glad I wasn't there to be honest. I was falling asleep during the last few minutes of the debate.

Excellent analysis here. You basically expanded upon what I had said briefly on my LJ. Kerry won this debate. I listened to Neal Boortz today on my bus and of course he spun a different story. I just don't see how conservatives could be happy with the Bush side of the debate. He was like a broken record, he seemed awkward and uncomfortable in the cutaway shots, and on top of it all he didn't really add anything new to the discussion that we haven't heard him say before.

Kerry does need to stop merely attacking Bush though. He needed to be more positive about his own plan. Hopefully in the 2nd and 3rd debates he can lay out his economic plans more clearly so your average Joe can understand them.

October 1, 2004 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger tsias said...

I was actually at the campus until around 11:30. Basically, I had a choice. Sit around and watch with the denizens of DU, or go someplace where I could be with other people. More and more, I try and choose to be out with a crowd. I was hoping that the experience would be more partisan. They wouldn't let you make any noise during the debates. In the second debate, I'd like to see what happens if I stand up and call George Bush a liar and a bastard. Hopefully they wouldn't throw me out of the hallway.

I have to comment on the matter of Kerry being "more positive". I felt he did lay out his plans for foreign policy. His broad goal is to bring other nations back into the Iraq reconstruction. While Bush says similar things, he lacks the credbility to reunite our allies. Kerry will bring a fresh start.

In this debate, Kerry wasn't trying to sell himself as much as denigrating Bush. That's a smart strategy, IMO. The last six weeks have been all about Kerry. The Democrats have to make this race a referendum about George W. Bush, not the other way around.

On the issue of foreign policy, it's hard to formulate an exact plan at the moment. Nobody knows what the situation will be like if Kerry takes office on Jan. 20. I felt he contrasted his vision with that of Bush. Clearly, Bush favors unilateralism while Kerry supporters limited multinational cooperation. Kerry made it clear that he would act unilaterally if needed, but wants to make more sincere efforts to bring in allies.

Kerry is definitely back on track. This debate was the first step in winning the election. The poll numbers might not move dramatically. However, he still has 4 weeks to make inroads with the swing voters. I feel that as Kerry debates more often, voters will continually become more relaxed with the prospect of a Kerry presidency. I don't think there's any way to spin this to Kerry's detriment.

As to the sarcasm, sometimes I throw shit in there just to make sure people are still reading. I really don't get people who smoke. I don't get why so many young people smoke.

October 1, 2004 at 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taylor you are one weird kid. I remember playing basketball with you in 5th grade. You were such a nerd. I figure your happy now with whatever guy you settled down with. You're a punk and your mom is a bitch. Well at least I know my're a bastard.

February 21, 2007 at 3:13 AM  

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