Much in the next presidential debate may depend on how specific and how varied the questions are. If the questions are general and Bush can just repeat a bunch of talking points without appearing evasive, he probably won't do so badly. But if the questions get specific, Kerry's greater policymaking experience will give him more to say that directly addresses the issue. Variety of questions is important -- if you remember how flummoxed Bush was by the "clean air and water" question in the last debate (that's where he started mumbing about diesel engines), you can see how Bush might break down against a bunch of unexpected questions from different angles. This, again, is something on which Kerry's decades of Senate experience are likely to help.
What worries me most is that Bob Schieffer, whose brother was named ambassador to Australia after being a business partner of Bush's, is moderating the debate. If he's the one coming up with the questions, this could be trouble.
From the Ivory Tower to the Abyss
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