Thursday, September 30, 2004


Kerry clearly won on points. He sounded more confident, poised, and dignified. Bush often sounded petulant, defensive, repetitive. Split screens showed Bush looking impatient, smirking etc.

I still have no clear idea what Kerry will do in Iraq that is different from what Bush is already trying to do (with the exception of the magic summit at which all the nations of the world fall under the hypnotic sway of Kerry and pledge to send tens of thousands of troops to Iraq).

Clear difference on North Korea. Bush: continue six-party tracks. Kerry: do both bilateral and multilateral talks. I think Bush is correct in asserting that once Kim Jong Il gets even a whiff of American willingness to pursue bilateral talks, multilateral talks will be thrown out the window.

UPDATE: A busy day looms ahead but I'll try to post some more detailed thoughts on the differing positions on North Korea a bit later.

What was your reaction to their different approaches to stopping nuclear proliferation?

What about the statement that we are making nuclear bunkerbusters?

Do you think Kerry convinced people that he doesn't flip-flop?

I thought the President said many positive things about what he has achieved. I'm not sure why it didn't "feel" stronger--maybe it was his presentation--as you observed.
I was able to watch the debate here in China because my apartment has CNN.

I'd say that Kerry was much more effective than Gore was 4 years ago, but I think the pundits are right saying there wasn't a clear-cut winner.

Bush speaks more passionately, with good hand gestures and facial expressions that show emotion. Though I find him disingenous, I think that interpretation is subjective and his style is very attractive to lots of voters. Kerry is precise and quite eloquent, he made lots of very good, sharp points. The only problem- he really looks like a corpse when he's not smiling. I don't just mean in the sense that he fails to show passion or emotion- I think he DOES have those things- it's just that the tan and the makeup really DO make him look like a touched up dead body. He needs to smile and laugh more to maximize his effectiveness.

Besides that, the Democrats are being too polite. They need to get worked up and pissed off. They have a much better candidate.

Could you speak more about why multilateral talks would deteriorate if the US also pursued bilateral talks? I'd think that other countries in the region would still have a stake in the outcome and would continue to press their interests. Couldn't bilateral talks also be made contingent on multilateral talks?

And what about the deterioration of the nuclear situation on the Korean peninsula under Bush's watch? Kerry made that point very clearly and Bush wasn't able to respond. Bush didn't deny that the North Koreans now have nuclear weapons, so it appears that this is, in fact, the truth. Really, what's the best way to deal with that? Even radical conservatives admit that war could not be the solution, for economic reasons and also because of the human cost.
I think Bush would have had a better edge if not for what you've already noted, plus his frequent inability to coalesce his thoughts and start the sentence. Much less polished than Kerry. And his repetitiveness was annoying. I felt he had some good points though.

Overall, the debate was much less animated than I had expected. It was more fun to watch the debates in 2000. :)

In an amusing note... over at Slashdot the results of the "who won the debate" poll are split (relative to the rest) between "Kerry" (29%) and "Don't know who won, but the public lost" (39%).

According to my memory, both candidates mentioned the "stability of Israel" once. Working on an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement was not mentioned by either candidate. Even our Middle Eastern friends-- Pakistan's Musharraf on a recent NBC interview, for example--plead with us to help the Palestinian situation. Are we politically illiterate or afraid of the Jewish vote? Surely, there is some aspect of the Palestinian situation in which a president could have compassion. What is your take on the political silence on that situation?
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