The First Debate
Well, I just got finished watching the first Presidential debate, and since I’m sure the spin over the next couple of days is going to be fast and furious I thought it might be useful to record my reaction before all that starts.
Initial reaction: it was a win for Kerry. Not so much because he did anything particularly right, as because Bush seemed so strangely wrong. Bush’s body language was terrible — slumped over, pounding on the podium to make his point, he seemed tired and worn out.
And his repeated responses to Kerry’s charges with simple negations made him look out of touch with the issues; a Martian watching the debate would have thought Kerry was the incumbent and Bush the tyro challenger.
There were moments where Bush even looked lost up there — like a bewildered child who has wandered into the grown-ups’ party. Bush’s schtick is hammering home his talking points, and he leaned on that, repeating “mixed messages” so many times I think I’ll be hearing it in my sleep. But he seemed completely unable to respond on his feet.
By contrast, Kerry’s body language was great — standing upright, making small but pointed gestures, looking into the camera at the right moments.
He also (finally!) did a decent job of encapsulating the reason so many people like me oppose Bush: the President’s embarrassing (and dangerous) bungling of the war on terrorism. He didn’t say anything particularly new or groundbreaking, but he didn’t have to; Bush’s stumbling did all the work for him.
So that’s how it looked to me. Now, let the spinning begin (sigh).