I was worried at the beginning. For one thing, Kerry seemed to be avoiding some questions rather than answering them. And his answer on gay marriage was no good. The thing about wives supporting their gay husbands probably sounded kinky to lots of the folk in the heartland, and the "Cheney's gay daughter" bit is a creepy move. (I sense a dark strategy there in which the Kerry team is happy to have us all talking about it and making sure everyone knows it.) Bush did a solid job on that issue.
But once we got into the bread-and-butter economic issues -- health care, jobs, and thank Bob Schieffer for bringing up the minimum wage -- Kerry steamrolled Bush. He was confident, knowledgable, clear, and presidential. If I had to pick a word, it'd be "authoritative". Bush had his class-clown smirk, and the one joke I can recall went nowhere. (This is the media bias joke that only hard right-wingers probably enjoyed, and which Bush bailed out of before the punchline.) I can't remember a single memorable Bush economic policy line, and I thought his demeanor was worse than in debate #1. I was very happy with Kerry's assault weapons answer, which linked back to his past as a prosecutor, mentioned Osama's terrorist handbook, and brought up the AK-47 in the drug dealer's house. And I'm happy that Kerry did things to get the Bush "not worried about Osama" line on national TV.
The debates are done, and I'm happy with where we stand. Now it's up to KE04 to play smart fourth-quarter football, and up to Steve Rosenthal and the GOTV generals to make it happen on the ground. Karl Rove be damned, I think they can do it.
Oxford's Paul Lodge interviewed...
3 hours ago