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Monday, September 27, 2004
Campaigns Aim to Lower Debate Expectations

CRAWFORD, Texas - It's a classic pre-debate dance, maybe as important as the matchup itself: lower expectations for your candidate's performance and jab the other guy while you're at it.

Tellingly, the article is mostly about how the Bush team is again trying to lower expectations. I hope somebody reminds these crackers that Bush is more than just another hick from the sticks. He's the goddamn motherfucking President of the United States and should therefore come off as somewhat presidential. That means more than reciting the same old tired platitudes. Unfortunately this crap worked last time. After getting played like a fiddle on 9/11 and the war in Iraq, let's hope the news media is of a mind not to let it happen again.
Blogger Tomohiro Idokoro comments:
In his column today, Paul Krugman gets it:

Let's face it: whatever happens in Thursday's debate, cable news will proclaim President Bush the winner. This will reflect the political bias so evident during the party conventions. It will also reflect the undoubted fact that Mr. Bush does a pretty good Clint Eastwood imitation.

But what will the print media do? Let's hope they don't do what they did four years ago.

Interviews with focus groups just after the first 2000 debate showed Al Gore with a slight edge. Post-debate analysis should have widened that edge. After all, during the debate, Mr. Bush told one whopper after another - about his budget plans, about his prescription drug proposal and more. The fact-checking in the next day's papers should have been devastating.

But as Adam Clymer pointed out yesterday on the Op-Ed page of The Times, front-page coverage of the 2000 debates emphasized not what the candidates said but their "body language." After the debate, the lead stories said a lot about Mr. Gore's sighs, but nothing about Mr. Bush's lies. And even the fact-checking pieces "buried inside the newspaper" were, as Mr. Clymer delicately puts it, "constrained by an effort to balance one candidate's big mistakes" - that is, Mr. Bush's lies - "against the other's minor errors."
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Blogger Tomohiro Idokoro comments:
Al Gore, in an op-ed piece in The Times today:

My advice to John Kerry is simple: be prepared for the toughest debates of your career. While George Bush's campaign has made "lowering expectations" into a high art form, the record is clear - he's a skilled debater who uses the format to his advantage. There is no reason to expect any less this time around. And if anyone truly has "low expectations" for an incumbent president, that in itself is an issue.Exactly. Don't let that weasel weasel out of this one.

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