September 30, 2004

Liveblogging The Debate

I'm here at the Stroms' house, with a galaxy of Twin Cities' bloggers:

This is my first shot at liveblogging - stay tuned.
7:52PM - King Banaian is going to be playing the Tradesports Electronic Market. Bush is down a buck, Kerry is running at a pretty absurdly wide spread. I think. I'm not, like, an economist or anything...

8:00 - And here we go. Jim Lehrer is...sonorous. The topic is foreign policy - good.

8:03 - They candidates are onstage. Kerry looks - brown. Not orange, anyway.

8:03 - Margaret Martin makes the world's best mushroom soup.

8:04 - first question to Kerry - "do you think you do a better job than President Bush of preventing another 9/11". He spent a solid minute running out the clock.

8:05 Kerry: "I know I have a better plan for Iraq". Fair enough. What are the details?

8:05 - "Iraq is in shatters". Shatters is a noun?

8:06 - Bush's rebuttal. He's starting slow. I think this is a good thing - running at his own pace, not getting rattled. Good speaking technique. He's on topic, answering the question. Good answer.

8:07 - Question for Bush, do you think a Kerry election will make another 9/11 more likely? "I don't believe it'll happen, because I believe I'll win". That got a nice round of nods around the room. He's doing well - no flubs. I think he's gotten much better at public speaking in the last four years. I think he stuck this one.

8:08 - King says the market is steady.

8:10 - Kerry's rebuttal. First lie of the evening; the 9/11 Commission didn't say what Kerry said. Kerry give a long list of generals that'd endorsed him. His line about Tora Bora - oof. I'll get back to that.

8:11 - Question to Kerry, what would he do differently than Kerry. He's he's calling for more inspection. First "Vietnam" reference!.

8:13 - John Kerry - you know where Bin Laden is? Really?

8:13 - Bush's rebuttal catches Kerry on his flipflop. "Kerry said anyone who didn't recognize this doesn't have the judgement to be President. I agree with him". That got the first round of applause in the room.

8:15 - Bush is BANG on message. "To say that Bin Laden is the focus of the war on terror is to not understand the war on terror". Bingo. A few halts on this question, but I think the President is doing very well.

8:16 - Another great line about mixed signals. "There WILL be elections in January".

8:17 - Kerry's rebuttal - "Iraq was not even CLOSE to the center of the war on terror, until the president invaded". "You dont' go to war unless there's a plan to win the peace".

8:18 - KErry stuck his foot in it - troops without body armor? King: "You stuck your foot in it, bitch". That brought a yell from the room.

8:18 - President is BANG on that flub! "What message does that send our troops? The allies, the Iraqis?"

8:19 - Kerry is looking rattled.

8:20 - Homeland security question for Kerry: "Waht would you differently w/Homeland security?" He's dodging the question, trying to turn it into a question about funding of cops.

8:21 - He's trying to make tax cuts a national security issue! That drew a groan.

8:22 - King - "Kerry's not in control of his answers".

8:23 - Bush refutes Kerry's answer pretty handily. "I've tripled the budget!". He's giving specifics.

8:23 - "The best way to secure the homeland is to stay on the offense"

8:23 - Kerry's trying to tie the tax cut to security again.

8:24 - Bush. VERY strong call to the offensive - got more nods of approval.

8:25 - Question for Bush about bringing the troops home.

My observation at this point - Bush is MUCH better on the stand than before. He's on message, cool, collected - and even his few fluffs come across as human and concerned, rather than comical.

He's doing great.

8:26 - "We'll get you home as soon as the mission is done". "A free IRaq is essential for the security of this country".

8:27. KErry's message to the troops - "Help is on the way". "There's a sense of American occupation". He repeats the meme that only the Oil Ministry was guarded when we liberated Baghdad. Strom: "Asshole". He's calling for a summit

8:28 - Bush "What kind of message does "Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time" send to the troops. "That's not what commanders in chief do when you're trying to lead troops".

8:29 - Kerry's second Nam reference. "I"m going to lead those troops to victory". Really?

8:30 - Elder notes that Kerry keeps referring to Generals Shalikashivili and Shelton. Kerry's on about summits. King: "I'll be the best damn conference organizer ever!"

First Halliburton reference!

8:31 - Bush - "That was totally absurd". Bush is absolutely killing Kerry here. "What's the message going to be - please join us in Iraq for the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time?" Invocation of Tony Blair, Kwasniewski. He's listing the Japanese, Arab summits (the irony was eagerly noted around the room)

8:33 - Rocketman knocked my beer over. I know I missed some good stuff...

8:35 - Bush: "We will not achieve this if we send mixed signals". Second reference to this; the campaign knows it smells Kerry blood on this one.

8:36 - Kerry's denigrating the coalition again! Like 4,000 Poles are chopped liver!

8:38 - Kerry question - give an example of the President lying. "We all know that in the State of the Union, he talked about nuclear materal that didn't exist". Is he being paid to throw this?

8:39 Me: "Is he being paid to throw this?" King: "All I know is, he's making me money".

8:40 - Rocketman: "KErrys doing better than I expected. Very well". I don't see it. Saint: "It's a rout. An outrage. It's that bad". For Bush.

8:41. Bush response: "I don't think Kerry was misleading when he called Iraq a menace in 2002". Good lord, he's got the sound bites down.

Third invocation of "That's not how a Commander in Chief acts!". It's a great line.

8:42 - KErry took the "misleading" bait. I think the president has turned the momentum of the "Bush Lied" track. Kerry: "I've had one consistent message" drew a chorus of laughs. Bush: "The only thing consistent about my opponent is that he's inconsistent". Bingo.

8:43 - Question for Bush - "Is the war worth it?" He's coming across as human I've seen a president. He's got the personal anecdote ready - great stuff.

8:44 - King - "He was ready for this one", re the anecdote. He's racking up huge points on this. Atomizer: "I think Bush is up on this one". Bush is going slow; picking his words. He's not rattled. I think he sees he's in control. This is good. COncludes "I think it's worth it Jim. In the long term, a free Iraq and Afghanistan will set a powerful example for the world. It'll say we did our duty". Powerful stuff.

8:45 Kerry: Third and fourth vietnam references.

8:46 Another summit reference! Jo, asked to score the debate: "I'm just watching".

8:47 - Bush response: "If I were to ever say "this is the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time", the troops would wonder how can I follow this guy? You can't run the war on terror if you keep changing yor position. KErry's plan simply won't work!".

8:48 - Kerry: "The POttery Barn rule - if you break it, you fix it!". That drew a chorus of groans. "I have a plan!"

8:48 - Kerry - can you give us specifics for ending US involvement in Iraq?

8:49: Kerry: "Haflujah". Three fluffs to none!

Kerry's raving about US "long term designs in Iraq".

8:51 - BUsh is calling Kerry on the "Puppet" cracks. Draws a round of hoots from the room.

8:52 - Kerry: "The IRaqis could be free". Hmm.

8:53 - Bush responds to Kerry's slag on Allawi - he sets up how high the stakes are.

8:53 - Quesiton for Bush: Is another preemption more or less likely? "I hope I never have to...never dreamt in 2000 that I'd have to. but they attacked us!." Another Mixes Messages references.

8:54 - King: Markets: Bush is 67 up a buck, Kerry 33.5 down 2.5.

8:54 - John LaPlante - "I think Kerry's getting in good jabs".

8:55 - Kerry - "Hussein didn't attack us. Bin Laden did". He's repeating the Tora Bora meme again. Fact; Special Forces specifically said that they'd prefer going into the Tora Bora with the locals, instead of waiting for the heavy US troops from the 101st Airborne and 10th Mountain. Lie.

8:57 Bush - "To think another round of resolutions would have caused Hussein to disclose and disarm is ludicrous".

8:57 - Kerry cites number of countries that could also build nukes, Darful genocide.

8:58 - Qustion for Kerry, your concept on preemption: "PResident always retains that right". BUT! "YOu have to pass the global test! You have to justify it with the world!" That drew a round of catcalls.

8:59 - Kerry's fluffed a couple of lines. Jo: "He's rattled".

9:00 - Bush - "I'm not sure what he means, passing the global test?" Drew the biggest cheer so far.

9:01 - Bush went off onto talk about why he rejected the INternational Criminal Court. I think this is a mistake.

9:01 - Question for Bush - DO you think Sanctions can resolve he nuclear problems in North Korea and Iran?

9:03 - Capable, if not exactly smooth, answers.

9:04 - Kerry response - I think he scored a point or two here.

9:05 - But now, when asked by Lehrer, he reverses himself! Bush clobbers Kerry on redirect! "we've already sanctioned Iran! We can't sanction them any more!" Bush won a bunch of points back.

9:06 - Question about Darfur for Kerry: Kerry retruns to sanctions talk against Iran.

9:08 - King: "Kerry not prepared for this question". Kerry's bloviating about the AFrican Union.

9:09 - Bush - "It was not my administration that put the sanctions on Iran - that was before me!" Re Darfur:

9:10 Question For Bush: "Is ther ean underlying character issue that you think disqualfies Kerry from office?" King: "Wow, that's a loaded question!" Fourth mixed message reference! But Bush has defused the loaded question very well. "I admire his service, but I just know how this world works, and there must be certainty form the US president!".

9:13 - Stem cell research?

9:14 - Nihilist in Golf Pants: "It's pretty close".

9:17 - Kerry's going to shut down bunker buster nukes to prevent proliferation? King: "Wow. Why's he doing this?

9:18 - Bush responds nicely.

9:18 - Rocketdaughter is about to fall asleep.

9:19 - Bush invokes missile defense plus his increase on nonproliferation funding and nonproliferation victories. Halting, but good...

9:20 - Lehrer asks both - is nonproliferation the key issue? Bush: "I can't tell you how big a mistake it is to have bilateral talks with North Korea". Good point. "I don't think that'll work".

9:20 - Last question, for Bush, Re Putin's change in democratic processes in Russia. Good catch on Bush's part, re opposing their consolidation.

Elder is fading fast. Saitn is trying to turn th Fraters' computer over to Atomizer - they must be getting lit.

9:22 - King: Bush is 67 after brushing in the mid 68s. "Bush is Running Away", per the Tradesports Market. Kerry's 33.4 - down 2.6 so far.

9:24 - Kerry - a "Mission accomplished"reference. Elder: "Cheap shot!"

9:25 - Bush "He saw the same intel I did! I'm not going to hold it against him that he called it a grave threat!"

9:25 - Jo: "Have you been looking at Bush's facial expressions?" He looks...quizzical, sez Elder

9:26 - Kerry's Closing. To sum it up in a sentence - "Who's the candidate that's going to bring everyone home". Another Nam reference!. He's got the tropeomatic going full speed. Kerry: "I believe the future belongs..." Elder: "To the children!"

9:28 - Bush's closing. Stronger intel, reformed miltiary, "the military will be all volunteer" (!), sovereignty, liberty in the middle east. Solid closing. "We've climbed the mighty mountain, and I can see the valley below. It's a valley of peace". Hopeful.

Final responses:
Saint Paul: Bush wins!
Elder: Slight edge to KErry, but insignificant.
King: Bush holds serve!
Jo: "Absolutely no doubt - Kerry got squashed like a grape. It washed off the orange".
Strom: 65-35 Bush
The Fetching Mrs. Elder - no big zingers.
Nihilist in Golf Pants: "Kerry did a good job by not looking creepy.
Atomizer: "Nobody Lost".
Rocketman: "I think Kerry helped himself" - but not enough to generate a bounce.
Mrs. Rocket: "I was hoping Kerry wouldn't do that well. Kerry seemed more normal".
Rocket Daughter: (she kept her counsel)
John LaPlante: "I need dessert!"

Jo again: "I thought he was calm, composed - like he was searching for rhetoric someone else gave him."

King: "Kerry's expectations were so lowered - and Bush came across as well as everyone expected".

Overall? Bush did well. I agree with King - the media drove the expectations so low, Kerry had to just avoid stumbling on his tongue. Bush did a serviceable job. Will it give Kerry a bounce? I'm not sure - I think Bush's relentless hammering on consistency will draw some sniffs in the beltway, but I think it'll play well in Peoria.

Posted by Mitch at September 30, 2004 07:52 PM | TrackBack

Mitch - I am so glad you caught the lie about the 9/11 commission, but I am disappointed that the President did not rebut that. I think I startled my son, his friend (he is having a friend sleep over tonight) AND the dog when I started screaming at the TV "THAT'S BS, THAT'S A LIE!!!!"

I hope that someone else catches that lie!

Posted by: Cindy at September 30, 2004 08:23 PM

Sorry, I can't watch, I don't want to put a fist through the TV, so I'm getting highlights off blogs.

Posted by: DelphiGuy at September 30, 2004 08:25 PM

Everytime I get the urge to punch the TV - I take a hit off of my drink.

Speaking of drinks Mitch - maybe someone should shut Rocketman off already - we used to call that beer abuse in college!

Posted by: Cindy at September 30, 2004 08:42 PM

2 additional batallions did he say? How is he going to staff that? He has already said that we have a defacto "back door draft" to fight Afghanistan and Iraq. Where are these extra troops going to come from Senator????????

Posted by: Cindy at September 30, 2004 09:11 PM

I still can't believe that Kerry advocates giving the Iranians the bullet just to see if they'll shoot us with it.

Posted by: Kris at September 30, 2004 10:13 PM

Well, The debate is over. I think that that the President held his own. He did seem a bit flustered in places. There were three areas I feel he did very good.

1. Pointing out the mixed messages that Kerry has been projecting and there effect on our allies and other countrys around the world.
2. Again saying that we will be steadfast in our war agianst terror. Terrorists will always know that the Presidents resolve will hunt them down.
3. The presidents confidence! He started out by saying he does not believe he will lose.

Kerry will get some bounce. It was predetermined.
See But it shouldn’t be to much. We will hear the spinmisters going to work quickly though. NBS already had 6 uncommited people who watched the debate together all say Kerry won.

Posted by: Chris at September 30, 2004 10:20 PM

Mitch, in a gathering of very partisan conservatives, you were split on who won.

Guess what that means?

Not even close. Bush looked rattled throughout. Kerry looked Presidential.

Kerry will get a bounce. It will be big.

It may put him into the lead. But we shall see.

Posted by: Jeff Fecke at September 30, 2004 10:34 PM

I agree with Atomizer: nobody lost. Bush had the better of the arguments of course, but his delivery was a weak at times. Jim Lehrer asked a good set of questions, kept control.

Posted by: Rex at September 30, 2004 10:36 PM

Not a perfect performance for the President, and it didn't *hurt* Kerry. I'd call it a draw.

Jeff Fecke - as usual, you're deluded beyond comment.

Posted by: Alison at September 30, 2004 11:09 PM

I am deeply depressed. I dislike Kerry. A lot. But, dammit, he looked presidential tonight, and GWB looked a little weak. A draw? Next debate, you guys need to lock the liquour cabinet.

Posted by: James Ph. at October 1, 2004 12:05 AM


I stand by what I said above; Kerry maybe came across as the better orator, but he very obviously flip-flopped. He was on message - all of them.

Bush halted - but, with maybe two exceptions, not in any way that seemed especially distracting. I *think* that Kerry's strengths may play among the wonks, but Bush will play better on mainstreet.

Posted by: mitch at October 1, 2004 06:48 AM

I think Kerry won on points and by coming across as somewhat normal. But Bush may have won simply by not losing badly. This will have little or no impact on the election and will be quickly forgotten.

Posted by: the elder at October 1, 2004 07:39 AM

I think this is the funniest thing I've read all week. Oh, man. Bravo, big cheers! Keep it up, Mitch.

Posted by: Craig Stacey at October 5, 2004 12:37 PM