Kid Kerry Hangs Tough; No Gentleman George Holds Belt

Your talking dog scored the bout for Kerry, maybe 7 rounds to 5, with a 2-1 aggregate judging score. Last night’s debate was surprisingly entertaining… the President was surprisingly well-prepared and articulate (for him), and his knowledge of world affairs (Sudanese leaders, the existence of Liberia) should hurt him among his base (“I wouldn’t want to have a beer with this wonk“). Kid Kerry was loose, rested, tannned… what was with that hair, though… and as expected, the far superior debater.
While the polls of actual voters are all that will matter, we can assume that by Sunday morning, somehow this will be spun as a major, decisive victory for “No Gentleman George” Bush. The irony is, it could well have been just that: Bush fanned on some key punches that could have put Kerry to the mat. As ably pointed out by Jim Henley, on the matter of North Korea, a one-liner would have drilled Kerry into the floor: “Oh, I see. Multilateralism is great for Iraq and everything else– but in NORTH KOREA, we have to go it alone… perhaps we’ll make ANOTHER great deal like Carter and CLinton did the LAST time we went unilateral there…” The other time Kerry left his mid-section open to a potentially lethal pummeling was on the basic Iraq posture: “Senator, just weeks ago, you said that even knowing there were no WMDs and Al Qaeda ties in Iraq, you would have still voted to authorize the war. Now you insist that the war was a mistake. On January 20th, whichever of us is sworn in as President will be in command of 145,000 American troops in Iraq. There is no question that you have no enthusiasm for this mission, and I believe the American people need to know that having the resolve to carry out and win this mission are essential to it.”
For his part, Kid Kerry failed miserably in some key counter-punching opportunities. Bush’s oft repeated statements about “100,000 trained Iraqi soldiers” is… a lie. Nearly 40,000 of that number are not troops, but police. Further, tens of thousands of these “trained Iraqis” have been dismissed for links to the insurgents. The other was “missile defense”. Against whom? Oh yes: North Korea. The country that acquired NUCLEAR WEAPONS during the Bush II Administration, so that now… we may actually NEED THE MISSILE DEFENSE NOW! And the last point Kerry missed a clean shot at Bush’s jaw, specifically, Secretaries Rumsfeld and Powell have both basically said the situation in Iraq is untenable in the last week, while Bush insists it is rosy, rosy, rosy.
In the end, the similarities between the two on foreign policy issues proved to be far greater than the differences. At one point, we came close– not too close– but close– to a love fest, as the two complemented each other’s daughters. Again– a surprisingly high minded approach… Bush scored his point with “I am steady– he changes his mind”. Kerry scored back with “consistent but wrong is not a virtue.”
What matters now is whether polls shift. I do suspect the Kerry bleeding just stopped, and we got ourselves a horse race.