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Saturday, October 02, 2004
David Brooks today in the New York Times:

In weak moments, I think the best ticket for this country would be Bush-Kerry. The two men balance each other out so well.

Kerry can't make a decision; Bush makes them too quickly. Kerry changes his mind by the month; Bush almost never changes his mind. Kerry thinks obsessively about process questions, but can't seem to come up with a core conviction; Bush is great at coming up with clear goals, but is not so great about coming up with the process to get there.

That was the striking thing about the debate on Thursday night. It wasn't so much a clash of ideologies, or a clash of cultures. It was a clash of two different sorts of minds.

You could say it was a hedgehog (Bush) debating a fox (Kerry), if you want to use that tired but handy formulation.

No, we much prefer your tired bullshit formulation: the decisive commander-in-chief vs. the waffling flip-flopper.

There were two minds on display Thursday night: an knowledgeable, well-trained one. And one that cycles repeatedly through a playlist of about 8 sound bites.

It was good to see the Kerry team learned its lesson from Gore's debates in 2000 (though in retrospect, it's obvious we all should have been sighing in exasperation as we listened to Bush's bullshit that night.) Bush is going to have to try to cram a few more platitudes into that underpowered mind before the next debate. Can't wait to see the results. I'm already cringing.
Blogger Tomohiro Idokoro comments:
E. J. Dionne from his Washington Post column:

Bush is a gifted and disciplined stump speaker who can stir and amuse his carefully screened crowds and produce sharp, clean sound bites that are a producer's dream. But the Bush of Thursday night looked nothing like the Bush of the campaign trail. Ill at ease and often halting, he turned in one of the worst public performances of his presidency.

At times, he looked like he was ransacking his mind for stray facts. He kept leaning on his stump rhetoric even when it seemed inappropriate. A couple of times, he seemed to be hoping that time would run out because he had run out of things to say.

And the debate revealed the hollow core of the president's one-note campaign: The argument Bush really cared about pushing -- over and over and over -- was that Kerry sent "mixed messages" and that, as the president told Kerry, "you keep changing your positions on this war." Bush appeared obsessed with reminding people that Kerry had called the Iraq conflict "the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time," a phrase he repeated at least seven times.

Bush clearly hopes that the flip-flop argument and his increasingly unreal claims that all is well in Iraq will be enough to allow him to hang on through Election Day. He's assuming that no one will ask hard questions about the narrative he's weaving.

But Kerry did, and the narrative began unraveling.
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