Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Thursday, September 30, 2004


Lets face it, the debates are not much more than a glorified press conference for each side, especially given all of the camera and speaking rules for this one. Still, it is always interesting to see how the candidates perform and how the press spins the results. Conventional wisdom has Kerry in trouble at this point and if even half of these poll results are accurate, then tonight's debate is absolutely critical for his campaign. That is also not good news for Kerry.

George Bush has been surprisingly successful in past debates. I say 'surprisingly' because he is so often portrayed as a bumbling idiot, unable to think without Dick Cheney and the neocon cabal telling him how to do it. This actually helps him though because the bar is set so low. All Bush has to do is be better than expected - something he has done consistently in his political career. Misunderestimate him at your peril.

Kerry on the other hand can be long winded, but is also very nimble as 20 years in the Senate would suggest. Will he draw attention to his Vietnam service again? Bad idea if he does. The electorate does not care. Look at some recent history:

2000 Republican Primary Bush with his questionable National Guard service defeats John McCain a well known war hero and POW.

1996 draft dodging Bill Clinton gets all the swing voters and soundly defeats WWII hero Bob Dole

1992 Clinton defeats Bush I a decorated WWII fighter pilot

Kerry's biggest problem though will probably be what he says about Iraq. Either way he risks alienating a core group of his supporters. About one third of his base thinks we should stay the course in Iraq while almost half wants us to withdraw. That probably explains why Kerry has taken just about every side on this issue over the last few months. Who will he risk offending when they are all watching at once?


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