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.

President Bush at podium

(Image by Associated Press, from Yahoo News)

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.

Senator Kerry at podium

(Image by Reuters, from Yahoo News)

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).


Jamie Krasnoo

October 1, 2004
2:16 pm

They both looked tired. Campaigns are energy sapping Succubi. Even as a Bush supporter I thought he (Bush) wasn’t at his game. Bush isn’t the best debater though. I did think Falluja was a tactical bungle. He should pressed on instead of pulling back and this problem would have been over.
Bush’s one two knockout never appeared and Kerry proved himself knowledgeable on the current topics that were discussed. However I don’t think I would be putting a spin on things if I said I thought that the debate was a draw. Kerry held his own.
For the record I am a registered nonpartisan.


October 1, 2004
2:21 pm

interesting. what i noticed was that in the side by side split screeh with the two candidates they zoomed in on bush slightly and showed a lot of podium. this resulted in the candidates heads being ‘level’ on the screen when they appeared together.
someone’s decided it doesn’t bode well for bush to actually look like a little angry monkey next to kerry.