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He Knocked His Block Off! Finally!


Well, Kerry won. At last.
By my estimation, Kerry landed the first solid hit by 6:15(PST — 9:15 in the East) after he told the audience that “sanctions worked” and that “smart diplomacy” was better way to proceed. It was pretty much his show after that.
Bush got a few laughs later in their session; always a sign he’s connected with his audience. And Kerry’s answers on stem cell research and abortion were just lame. The guy can’t talk about squishy stuff – you know, like how you feel, Senator –- to save his life and in this case, that’s exactly what was going on. But at least adopted the Clinton technique of using a data and statistics, many of them specific to the place — in this case Missouri where he’s speaking – to make his points. It’s an effective way of faking empathy with an audience he’s had trouble connecting with.

But the big clue wasn’t the shouting and the over acting on the president’s part. It’s that he didn’t get laughs – or even knowing chuckles – where he should. The president’s comments about how American news reports turned Iraqi optimists into pessimists, his “dueling green eye-shade” crack fell flat. People don’t think Iraq is funny. His comments about his timber investment being “news to him,” did get a reaction but, well, he does have such an investment. Like Vice President Cheney’s encounters with Sen. John Edwards, it’s been lost in the mists of political expediency. I’m not sure how many voters are going to want to have a president who can’t remember what’s on his own tax forms. Kinda cuts against that “goodl ole boy” chat, eh?
Of course, standing next to a president who can’t find one mistake – other than hiring former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill – well, it was kind of easy for Kerry to just remain on his prosecutor’s game and think, think, think. Bush is intellectually lazy; he doesn’t like having to demonstrate his intelligence or his ability to think. He prefers to crack wise (that’s why the jokes are important) repeat his message and “lead” the way. When he can’t do that, he gets cranky and for the second time at the second debate he was very, very cranky. That’s why Kerry won. And, it seems, why he’ll do well again – maybe even better – next week.
The boxing analogy has, er, legs. My on-air news hero Keith Olbermann, a former sports guy who knows from experience how to cover the same stuff everyone else is watching – with humor, good writing and the smart observation — is calling on his knowledge of the sport to run a real match score. He gives it Kerry 12 rounds, Bush 4, a draw for 3 and his blow-by-blow 1) sound just like him so he probably wrote it and 2) is worth reading. This is what happens when pros turn blog, I guess.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:18 AM | Permalink

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