October 2 2004
MORE ON THE DEBATE: Here
are a cross-section of some emails we have received about
think the MSM and even the right wing blogosphere watched
a different debate last night. My wife and I watched the
debate at Nixon's bar and restaurant in Phoenix. It was
a standing room only crowd of decidedly mixed political
affiliation. There were people sporting both Bush and Kerry
paraphernalia. There was no event being sponsored, but it
was clear almost everyone had come to watch the debate.
In that room last night Kerry not only didn't help himself
- he lost. When Kerry tried to talk tough - "I will kill
the terrorists" - truly spontaneous laughter broke out because
it was so phony. As the night wore on, many eyes rolled
as Kerry told his whoppers and spouted empty platitudes.
His, "I have a better plan for homeland security" was greeted
with, okay - what is it? But that question was never answered.
And by the end of the night no one even listened to him
talk, but they focused on the screen when the President
spoke. This morning at the gym, some of my "independent"
and "moderate" friends and acquaintances wondered aloud
what debate the punditocracy has watched. Everyone I talked
to today thought Bush won flat out and that Kerry was, well,
Kerry - self-important, wandering, and phony beyond belief.
No one believes that he "will kill the terrorists" everyone
believes that he will have a summit - probably Maui or Sun
Valley. And so I wonder - what debate did the scribblers
watch that the rest of America missed.
substance doesn't matter and you should know that...it's
all perception and the perception last night was that John
Kerry was presidential...Bush's numbers are not that strong
and neither are his internals...all Kerry has to do is give
the country a reasonable alternative - and he did that last
night. The curtain was pulled back from the Rove Wizard
of Oz spin machine and the mighty Wizard was revealed to
be a mere mortal, and not a very confident one at that...
style and clarity of message Kerry won, but not on substance.
What Kerry said all night was wrong. Wrong, on rushing to
war, wrong on Iran, wrong on North Korea, wrong on the amount
of money spent to fight the terrorists, wrong on the subway
closing, wrong on where he was in Russia, wrong on suggesting
that Bush ordered Afghan fighters to lead in Tora Bora (it
was a military decision not political). Most importantly,
how can this be the wrong war and in Joe Lockhart's mind,
one that should not have been started, and then have Kerry
say that our soldier's are not dying in vain. It's one or
the other. If the war is wrong so to are the deaths. If
the war is right, then the sacrifices are heroic.
all you want I`m a bush supporter and if he doesn`t improve
in the next two debates I may vote for Kerry. Bush just
came across as dumb as a brick, at least Kerry looks like
he can think on his feet. Also if Bush goes into election
day with less than a five point lead , don`t get to comfortable.
think you're dead on. Actually, I have been watching the
Iowa Electronic Market and the Trade Sports Trading and
Betting Exchange and the manner in which those two have
been trading would indicate things looking up for Bush.
There were moments when Bush made me cringe last night but
on the whole he came out the better man. Kerry kept his
cool and did none or nearly none of the irksome things he's
prone to. But who has the sound bites? Bush is weighted
down with ammunition from the debate last night. Kerry has
a videotape of Bush's smirks. Big deal! Bush has the Global
Test line as well as numerous other bites that he is already
using on the campaign trail.
my own informal survey which, though small (62 persons),
was sufficiently random to have statistical validity, the
key outcome is that the debate did not change anyone's mind.
This shocked me - not even 1? Ask persons whether the debate
changed their mind, regardless of their prior preference,
and I think you'll find the debate will not be a factor.
Incidentally, of the 62, 34 thought Kerry did better, 26
thought Bush, and the other two had no opinion. But again,
no one is changing their vote. In my view, Bush won all
he needed. Kerry needs more votes, not debate "victories".
commentary is an obtuse equivocation for a poor performance
by the President. While I agree that Kerry won the debate,
I DON'T believe it was any kind of major victory. Those
kind of things rarely happen in debates. Perhaps Kerry gets
a 1-3 point bounce out of it. But maybe more importantly
is he gets people to tune into debate #2. Reading your commentary
makes it obvious that you too believe Bush didn't do very
well, if not out right lost. When you're reaching for strategy
assumptions to make sense of the win, or saying things like
Bush not making any gaffes means Kerry didn't win, you've
revealed more than you've written. (And the market angle
is absurd -- what indicator (which was positive) was released
this morning?) Bush appeared to be as limited as he has
always been. His repetition of a few phrases ("it's hard
work" or whatever it was) quickly revealed his lack of breadth
-- not his on-point message, as some conservatives have
been trying to spin. The president's answer to so many questions
can't be the same over and over. Plus, I think Bush being
out of his pre-approved audience campaign mode showed us
how insulated he really is. We'll see what happens with
the next debate. Again, it won't turn around the election,
but it may gain one candidate or the other another couple
of points. And in this tight race, that's important.
you for your honest analysis. After having given it 24hrs+
to think about it, I think the President could have done
better, but scored some points on the"Global"issue etc.
I saw a clip of him in New Hampshire the next day---I wished
he had brought that game to the debates! Also, Kerry mentioned
at the debates that Bush would have done what he did in
Iraq knowing what he knows now. Excuse me, that was Kerry's
position a month ago! Why didn't Bush nail that? Anyway,
thanks for what you do, your website is one of the few places
I can go and get honest analysis that cuts through the spin.
emails, and there are more debate comments on our new comments
page. J. McIntyre 4:12 pm Link
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October 1 2004
WHO WON THE DEBATE?: I
must confess I am a little surprised at the initial reaction
that Senator Kerry won the debate last night. However, enough
people on both sides of the political aisle have suggested
that Kerry had the better night I think it is certainly
possible that Kerry might receive a decent bump in the post-debate
analysis of the debate is pretty simple. Kerry
was losing going in to the debate, and given the polarized
nature of the country and the more or less tied race through
the spring and mid-summer, his 4-6 point deficit with 4
1/2 weeks left was quite significant. Bottom line: I don't
think Kerry did anything to change the fundamental dynamics
of where this race is headed. In fact, I think the President
was able to keep the dynamics of the race focused on the
central issues that play into his strengths and Kerry's
are commenting on how Kerry appeared calm and "more
presidential." While there might be some merit to that
argument, it won't ultimately help Kerry that much because
he is the one who is trailing, not Bush.
only way Kerry's calm and measured approach makes any sense
from the Kerry campaign's perspective, is if they have a
lot more confidence in where this race was strategically
before going in to the debate. Maybe they believe the IBD/TIPP
poll and the other
polls that show this a dead heat or a 1-2 point race.
If they honestly felt they were in OK shape, then Kerry's
strategy begins to make more sense. The only problem here
for the Kerry folks, is that the preponderance of polling
evidence, along with the market-based
indicators of the race suggest it was not
a tie or close race going into last night.
that I believe that Kerry was down a solid
4-6 points before the debate, I believe his strategy
was terribly shortsighted. Whatever immediate gain he may
reap in the initial media coverage, Kerry was not able to
draw President Bush into making any gaffes, let alone any
major gaffes. And in fact it was President Bush who was
able to elicit some Kerry gaffes that the Bush campaign
will be able to pound Kerry with in the following days.
(Global test, International Criminal Court, bunker-busting
of this debate analysis, has to differentiate between who
"won" the debate on high-school debating points
and who might have been more articulate, versus which candidate
was enunciating a message that connected with the average
you went into this debate philosophically opposed to preemptive
war and the President's foreign-policy, then I'm sure Kerry
sounded reasoned, measured, and intelligent. And to you
Bush just repeated the same old stuff that you don't agree
with, which only added to the appearance of his being ineffectual
compared to Kerry.
if you favor Bush's approach to confronting terrorism and
don't have the same type of abhorrence to preemptive war
and unilateralism, I suspect the president's message came
through loud and clear, and you were left wondering exactly
what Kerry's position, or plan, was on Iraq.
know what the polls are going to do in these next few days.
Perhaps Kerry will get the 2-5 point bump that many in the
media seem to be anticipating. But I wouldn't be totally
shocked if Kerry gets very little traction out of this debate.
We'll have to wait and see.
now, the market-based
indicators of the race show a small move toward Kerry.
But those results, at least so far, are more indicative
of a draw, or even a small Bush win (remember, these are
contracts on who will ultimately win the election), because
there was probably a substantial Bush premium built into
the pre-debate action on the potential that Bush could have
knocked Kerry out of the race last night. The fact that
Kerry has only upticked a little in these markets is probably
not a good long-term omen for the Kerry campaign. Nor is
point gain in the S&P 500 good news for Kerry as
the stock market since mid-July has tended to go up and
down with the fortunes of President Bush.
as a long time trader I know full well it is a mistake to
try and attribute why exactly the market went up or down
on an individual day. And the polls will come out soon enough
giving us an idea of just how much the debate might have
helped Senator Kerry. But even if Kerry does get a 2-5 point
bounce, the big question will be whether he can hold that
bounce and keep the race close, or whether this will end
up being just a post-debate blip and the race will gravitate
back to what might have become the new equilibrium
in this race - a
Bush lead of 3-7 points.
see soon enough. J. McIntyre 4:23 pm Link
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GREAT DEBATE: I don't think there is any question
that John Kerry helped himself with his performance tonight.
Just how much, and how much it may matter in the polls is
a different story altogether.
as a practical matter Kerry not only survived this debate
and avoided being knocked out of the race tonight by President
Bush, he'll probably emerge in the coming days with a reenergized
base and a few undecideds in his column. The early spin
among the punditry seems to be quite favorable for Kerry,
and you don't have to be a black-helicopter wingnut to know
that the MSM has everything they need to start churning
out Kerry comeback stories from now through the end of the
are such a strange ritual of style triumphing over substance.
I mean, I'm sure John Kerry passed a certain bar tonight
with many people because of his looks, his demeanor, and
his articulateness - even though to my mind he really didn't
articulate anything very substantive. It's like taking a
used car and giving it a new muffler and paint job so it
looks and sounds different than you remember. But if you
pop the hood you'll see it's still running on the same old
people are talking about Kerry's "global test"
remark in response to Jim Lehrer's question about the doctrine
of preemption. It certainly was a gaffe - or perhaps more
of a Freudian slip - and it may come back to bite him, though
I wouldn't hold your breath hoping the press focuses on
my money, this exchange was the most damning part of the
entire debate for Kerry:
Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I
made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the
president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which
believe that when you know something's going wrong, you
make it right. That's what I learned in Vietnam. When
I came back from that war I saw that it was wrong. Some
people don't like the fact that I stood up to say no,
but I did. And that's what I did with that vote. And I'm
going to lead those troops to victory.
All right, new question. Two minutes, Senator Kerry.
of Vietnam, you spoke to Congress in 1971, after you came
back from Vietnam, and you said, quote, "How do you
ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?
No, and they don't have to, providing
we have the leadership that we put -- that I'm offering.
do not have to have a PhD in logic to notice the egregious
contradiction here. If your view is that invading Iraq was
a mistake and U.S. soldiers are dying in Iraq (which they
are) then our brave troops are, in fact, dying for a mistake.
for President Bush, his performance struck me as a bit disappointing.
He was disciplined (other people call it repetitive), spoke
with conviction and didn't make any big mistakes. Still,
he's clearly much better at making his case on the stump,
and I thought he missed a lot of opportunties.
was not the only time over the last couple years I've found
myself wishing for Tony Blair to act as a stand in for the
President and defend the war in Iraq. Blair would have thrashed
Kerry so viciously they'd still be vacuuming up pieces of
him off the red carpet right now.
the final analysis, Bush had the stronger case based on
facts and substance and Kerry had the better performance
from a stylistic perspective. How this may affect the polls
over the coming days is anyone's guess.- T. Bevan
12:35 am Link
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September 30 2004
MINUTE ADVICE: Since everyone and their mother has given
advice to the candidates on what they should do (or at least
try to do) in tonight's debate, I figure I might as well
join in. My last minute piece of advice for the President
is simple: put the smirk away.
smirk, of course, is a registered trademark of George W.
Bush and could be the single most polarizing facial expression
in political history. It absolutely drives liberals crazy.
Conservatives, generally speaking, tend not to have a problem
with Bush's smirk, instead seeing it as a refreshing and
endearing reflection on some of the qualities they admire
in the President.
in this space John argued that the best chance for Senator
Kerry to get back in this race is to take some dramatic
risks tonight to try and get President Bush to lose his
cool. I completely agree.
I also think it could be equally if not more damaging to
the President if he comes across tonight as too cocky, too
confident, or too flip under the circumstances. The smirk
is something that could do just that.
as disciplined a candidate and speaker as Bush is, sometimes
his mannerisms come across as out of sync with either the
situation or the sincerity of the message he should be conveying.
debate is deadly serious. More than two dozen children were
killed by terrorists today in Iraq. President Bush should
be confident in his arguments and confident in his ability,
but he should be very aware that his gestures and expressions
match the seriousness of the issues at hand.
"MO" FOR KERRY IN MO: The NY
Times examines whether the swing state of Missouri has,
in fact, already swung against John Kerry. The DNC and the
527's are still spending money to keep Kerry from being
totally dark there, but it's looking more and more like
even Dick Gephardt couldn't have pulled this rabbit out
of the hat. T. Bevan 5:43 pm Link
September 29 2004
WHAT CAN KERRY DO?: At the beginning
of last week I wrote:
Kerry needs to get this race back to within 3-4 points
in our RCP Poll Average by the first debate in ten days,
or these poll numbers will start to harden and he will
need a debate meltdown by the President to have a chance.
the day before the big first debate Kerry trails President
Bush by 5.9% in the 3-way RCP
Poll Average and 4.4%
in the head-to-head RCP Poll Average. On balance, the
state polling continues
to confirm a 4-6 point lead for the President. To complete
the bad news for Kerry, the internals of the recently released
ABC News/Wash Post and CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls are even
worse than the headline, horserace numbers.
poll, voters felt President Bush would handle the economy,
Iraq, and terrorism better then Senator Kerry, with Bush
having a 27-point lead on the terrorism issue.
in the ABC/WP
poll Bush beat Kerry on eight, out of eight, key character
and leadership questions among registered voters:
tell me whether the following statement applies more
to (Bush) or more to (Kerry):
is honest and trustworthy
understands the problems of people like you
is a strong leader
will make the country safer and more secure
shares your values
taken a clear stand on the issues
has an appealing personality
has strong religious faith
numbers are horrifying if you are a Kerry supporter and,
to be blunt, Kerry has almost no chance with polling internals
this dismal. At this stage Kerry only has one choice left,
and that is to try and destroy the President's internals.
Bush campaign has done a masterful job of tarring Kerry
as a serial flip-flopper. Furthermore, Kerry himself has
been all over the place on the central issue of Iraq, leaving
him no room to debate on the issues. Kerry's only hope is
to bring Bush's numbers down into the toilet with his.
now the President has a +9.0%
spread in his favorable/unfavorable rating as compared to
John Kerry's -0.6%. The only way Kerry can realistically
get back into the race is to try and drive the President's
favorable/unfavorable ratings down to a level that is, at
the very least, equal to where Kerry stands.
only four and a half weeks left until election day, happy
talk about campaigning on the issues and providing a positive
message isn't going to get it done for Senator Kerry. And
hoping for Iraq to just fall apart and have the American
people decide to give up and turn against the President
is just that, nothing but hope.
is going to have to go for broke Thursday night, and his
game plan has got to be about one thing and one thing only:
making the President look as bad as possible. Winning the
debate on debating points, or on this issue or that point
simply isn't going to cut it. Kerry has got to figure out
a way to have more people disliking President Bush at the
end of the debate than before it started.
I were the Kerry people, I would focus on two clips of video.
The first is Bush's debate with McCain in 2000 where McCain's
dressing down and interruptions caused Bush to visibly lose
his cool. Kerry should take the tactic of Tom Cruise in
Few Good Men" and try and goad President Bush into
losing his temper. The only way Kerry can win this debate,
is to make President Bush lose it.
this is an extremely high risk strategy. It is also quite
likely that this type of tactic will backfire and leave
John Kerry looking like a complete jerk, instead of the
President. But Kerry is in so much trouble right now that
if he truly wants to be President he has to roll the dice,
play to win, and forget about the possible consequences.
suspect the Bush campaign is well aware this tactic is a
potential vulnerability for the President - which is why
they negotiated so many rules into the debate format so
as to forbid tactics that might lead to the President losing
his temper. Kerry should throw caution to the wind and break
President Bush has to do is ignore Kerry and stick to what
he has been saying on the campaign trail. Let Kerry win
with the armchair pundits and the professional debate scorers.
As long as Bush keeps his cool and sticks
to his message, he's the winner on Election Day. And that's
the only win that counts. J. McIntyre 9:03
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September 27 2004
THE 1997 SPEECH THAT DAMNS JOHN KERRY: The other
Drudge caused a bit of a stir by linking to an item
in John McCaslin's Washington Times column which said that
in a 1997 debate with Representative Peter King, John Kerry
called for preemptive military action against Saddam Hussein.
runs a semi-retraction - or clarification, if you prefer
- to the effect that the quote attributed to Kerry by Mr.
King was incorrect, but his paraphrasing of Kerry's comments
during the 1997 Crossfire debate was accurate.)
are suggesting that, if true, Kerry's call for preemptive
military action against Iraq would represent the "ultimate
flip-flop."And they'd be right, of course.
reason this entire episode doesn't surprise me, however,
is because it absolutely IS true. I've already written about
it twice (here
so maybe the third time will be the charm to get this story
the attention it deserves.
November 9, 1997 Kerry gave a speech of his own free will
on the floor of the United States Senate that was entered
into the Congressional Record with the title, "We
Must Be Firm With Saddam Hussein."
the speech Kerry not only laid out the case for aggressive
military action against Saddam Hussein, he cited Saddam's
pursuit of WMD as the main rationale for action:
went on to argue that the threat posed by Saddam was so
grave and so real that the United States should act unilaterally,
put these remarks in some context. Kerry gave this blistering
speech in response to the fact that on October
29, 1997, Saddam Hussein kicked U.S. weapons inspectors
out of Iraq. Kerry argued it was "unthinkable"
that Saddam be allowed to scuttle the inspection process
and defy the will of the international community.
resolutions by the UN Security Council AND the
passage of a law by Congress making regime change in
Iraq the official policy of the US government AND a four-day
bombing campaign against Saddam Hussein in late 1998,
weapons inspectors did not set foot on Iraqi soil again
until the Bush administration forced them back in in November
the intervening four years America suffered terrorist attacks
on her embassies
in Africa, on her warship
in Yemen, and on her homeland on September
is it plausible for John Kerry to have believed in 1997
that Saddam was a grave threat requiring the use of significant,
preemptive, and unilateral military force but to now, more
than five years later and in a post-9/11 world, stand before
us and argue the opposite? It is not.
Kerry's own words both then and now damn him as a man who
changes his beliefs and positions based on political expediency
and nothing more. - T. Bevan 12:15 pm Link
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