Combine that with the relentless GOP spin machine and distrust of intellectualism among many voters, and there wasn't much opportunity for Sen. Kerry to win the debate.
But win he did.
Kerry shredded Bush, who spent the entire debate crouching behind his podium in a defensive Nixonian scowl, fumbling for words to defend his record in Iraq and the war on terror, two subjects that were supposed to be his strengths.
Bush's performance was so abysmal that many of his supporters have admitted that he got trounced, including a surprisingly candid Rush Limbaugh on his show Friday.
Writing for for the conservative National Review, Jay Nordlinger states:
If I were just a normal, fairly conservative, war-supporting guy: I would vote for Kerry. On the basis of that debate.
A former prosecutor, Kerry worked Bush like Sam Waterston patiently walking a defendant on Law and Order into a courtroom trap. "Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us," Bush interjected at one point. "I know that." The fact he felt it necessary to make that assertion shows how badly things were going for him.
Though some pundits believe that Bush's ire was a consequence of being forced to defend his policies, I think Kerry subtly provoked the president's infamous temper with two references to his father:
I'm proud that important military figures who are supporting me in this race: former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili; just yesterday, General Eisenhower's son, General John Eisenhower, endorsed me; General Admiral William Crown; General Tony McBeak, who ran the Air Force war so effectively for his father -- all believe I would make a stronger commander in chief. ...
I believe there's a better way to do this. You know, the president's father did not go into Iraq, into Baghdad, beyond Basra. And the reason he didn't is, he said -- he wrote in his book -- because there was no viable exit strategy. And he said our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land.
That's exactly where we find ourselves today.
Bush continues to have Oedipal issues with Poppy, a man he challenged to a "mano a mano" fistfight at age 30 and called "the wrong father to appeal to for advice" prior to the start of the war in Iraq. Writing in BusinessWeek, Ciro Scotti noted the familial aspect of the debate:
Bush found himself in a foreign-policy debate with a seasoned politician who was espousing the same sort of measured, internationalist approach to a dangerous world that was the hallmark of his father's Presidency. Debating the security and future of the nation on live national television isn't easy -- but debating your Dad is downright scary.
Whether this translates to a victory in 31 days remains to be seen, but it sure was must-see TV.
I'm surprised more people are not pointing out the absolute ridiculous comments that Bush made during the last debate. There's several transcript w/ his embarassments in black and white.
What's a hydrogen-generated car? There's no Internets.