Some thoughts this morning following the debates last night:
1.) This one would be a lot easier if Peggy Noonan hadn't jumped onto the campaign in an official capacity and instead could sell herself out as an "independent analyst," but whatever. Despite the utter lack of any evidence to support it, everyone goes out and spins that Bush is actually a wonderful orator, one of the best in American history, second only to Ronald Reagan (at which point Peggy would make the sign of the cross -- inappropriately); that even the best can have an off night; and that for the best, an off night is still pretty good. The president, in his steadfastness and resolve(?), actually did a phenomenal job.
2.) Bush sucked, but he was supposed to. He'll be marginally better in debate number two and profoundly better in debate number three. Kerry will be uniformly good in all of them. This, the spinmeisters will put forth, proves that while Kerry just plods on and on, unable to revise his strategy (um, because it's working?), Bush constantly learns and adjusts and improves, honing his rhetoric to a razor sharp edge. He's like Ralph Macchio in "The Karate Kid" -- the only reason his victory is sweet is because he got beat down in the first place. Now GWB's the underdog.
3.) A variation on number 2: Bush sucked, because he was supposed to IN THIS FORMAT. When they get to the "Town Hall" version, when "real" people get to ask "real" questions (pre-conceived, pre-submitted, pre-approved, and pre-answered by Andy Card, Karl Rove, and Karen Hughes on behalf of the "very busy" President), he'll shine. This, the spinmeisters will opine, is because Kerry is an elitist who can only interact with other elites, like Jim Lehrer. Bush is a man of the people (as long as they keep their distance and don't approach on horseback) and "likes them more than John Kerry does, who went to Yale." (Um, what was that weird little thing about where Bush said that he could even forgive Kerry for having gone to Yale? Bush went to Yale. Does he not remember this? Or is this supposed to be a dig, forgiving him for sullying his alma mater? Is he aware that Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, and Garry Trudeau also went to Yale?)
It's nice that things went well for Kerry last night. NOW FORGET IT! Next debate next week: Hit him even harder with more of the same. Bush's worst moments were when he froze, when he sputtered, when he couldn't get his thoughts (if he had any) out of his mouth, and when Kerry just stood patiently by and waited for an answer.
Oh, and I saw Rudolph Giuliani on "The Daily Show" last night. I don't know what he's been promised in the next administration -- a cabinet post, an ambasadorship, a juicy government contract, backing in his run for the Senate -- but judging by the reaction he got from the audience, he's coming across much less the maverick mayor and more the blubbering sycophant. Tool.