|October 1, 2004|
BuzzFlash Declares Kerry the Winner of Round One: He Puts Bush on the Defensive. The Weasel in Chief Appeared to Get Smaller by the Minute.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
You knew Kerry got the better of Bush in the first debate when that right wing Brooks’ columnist from the New York Times declared the match-up a tie on a PBS post-debate show. If that smarmy George Will wannabe says it came out even, you know Bush took a shellacking.
From a BuzzFlash perspective, Kerry was crisp, to the point, persuasive about Iraq, and commanding in his knowledge without being smug. He nailed Bush on the kind of specifics that get people thinking about whether Bush is really such a bad-ass in fighting terrorism. Specifically, Kerry brought up two issues more than once: Bush made errors in judgment that led to the creation of nuclear weapons by North Korea and Bush allowed Osama bin Laden to escape during the Tora Bora mission. And like a junkyard dog, Kerry grabbed onto the fact that Bush is doing little to stop nuclear proliferation that might result in terrorists getting their hands on nuclear weapons.
Kerry was never thrown off his mark, while Bush fell back into his smirk at times as Kerry nailed him again and again.
Bush clearly was pumped up with Frank Luntz message points to repeat over and over again, such as describing Kerry as a “mixed message” (flip-flop) candidate and endlessly repeating the words liberty, freedom and democracy in association with Afghanistan and Iraq. These words will no doubt play well with Bush’s base, but he won’t gain any voters from these sort of focus group marketing phrases, whereas Kerry clearly has a chance to pick up independents and women, based on his strong debate positions and presence.
Kerry needed to be reassuring about being capable of handling the war on terrorism, because it is Bush’s sole raison d’etre. He succeeded.
Like many BuzzFlash readers we began watching the first debate with great trepidation. Ninety minutes later we felt like we did at the Democratic Convention after Kerry’s acceptance speech.
Under pressure, the guy delivered.
Bush will get some points for never lapsing into complete incoherence, but anyone watching on television saw him gradually shrinking at the podium.
His trite focus group platitudes sounded repetitious after a while, and he just couldn’t handle Kerry’s debater agility.
Bush was virtually rendered speechless by Kerry's closing appeal that America's future belongs to freedom, not fear.
Bush can't govern WITHOUT fear.
We should mention that today was one of the bloodiest days in the Iraq War.
The reality on the ground does not bode well for George W. Bush. Facts have a way of catching up with you. Let’s just hope they tag Bush before the election.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
Afternote: Did we hear Bush joke that he wanted to put the twins on a leash? Or maybe he got his daughters confused with the guys Rumsfeld had tortured on leashes in Abu Ghraib? And wasn't Bush's hair color a bit touched up, so to speak, as from full grey to brownish grey? And it was time to hoist a mug of beer just to see the look on junior's face when Kerry quoted Poppy Bush about why HE didn't go into Baghdad during Gulf War I because it would have led to disaster. Just a couple of BuzzFlash catty comments.
After-Afternote, 10/1/04 7:30 AM: Clearly, Kerry has an opening now to redefine the debate and reframe the vote on the issue of Bush's credibility and competence. Kerry finally broke through the threshold issue that may force some undecided voters to ask, "Is Bush up to the Job or Just All Hat and No Cattle?"
For the moment, as a result of the first debate and two weeks of Kerry attacks on Bush's conduct of the Iraq War, the focus is on Bush's competence. That's quite a turnabout. We'll see if Kerry can maintain this "frame" and keep Bush on the defensive.