Free Dartmouth
10/01/2004 01:01:00 AM | Timothy

TV commentary
I watched the debate with another graduate student in political science. Both of us were frustrated near the beginning of the debate (I missed the very beginning). We thought he was not pulling this off. But Kerry got much better as the debate wore, really landing some punches. But this is not about our impressions; we're both Democrats, and not good judges of undecided voters. The media coverage heartened me even further. Kerry won the debate. He's in the game. Of course, Kerry can lose the debate over the next few days (Gore did). But Gore lost the post-debate because of focus on his personal gaffes. Bush had the equivilant of Gore's sighs this time.

Chris Matthews had the bluntest line of the night: Kerry's message was do you want to live or do you want that tax cut? Ron Reagan and Andrea Mitchell loved Kerry sneaking in talk about stem cells. Scarborough says that Bush had a 60%+ ranking on who is better on the war-on-terror, and says that we can say that Kerry won this debate if that number changes significantly changes.

Bill Kristol on Fox News complained that Bush did not talk about 9/11 enough. He seems unhappy. Brit Hume has a long discussion about the TV cuts work so that Kerry looks taller and Bush looks smaller (gee, what a complaint, my friend says, Kerry looks taller than Bush, which is true). Richard Holbrooke does not know how to deal with Sean Hannity. Has Alan Colmes developed a little spine temporarily?

Jon Stewart, on a live daily show, said that this was the first forum where he thought people might look at the two men and say I'm voting for John Kerry rather than just being against Bush. The laugh track is annoying in live shows, because I couldn't ignore how fake it sounded while Stewart was interviewing Wesley Clark.

Kerry's Mike McCurry is saying that Bush looked a little arrogant. The Kerry people are happy with the debate. There is a panel of six undecided voters on one of the channels. One was much more comfortable with Kerry as commander in chief. All of them gave the debate to Kerry.

Lots of touting on CNN of the Gallup poll that says that 53% of the sample thought Kerry did better (or something like that). One CNN commentator, I think David Gergen, added that this was the poll that people have been complaining about being too tilted to the right. I would note that Move-on and Democratic pollsters have been arguing this; this can be seen a reversal of the usual situtation where the right is more effective at working the ref.
Aaron Brown says: Cutaways hurt Bush. He looked annoyed, a little distracted. [And later] I thought Bush looked sort of disgusted by the whole process.

Update: Democrat Marty Kapan on CNN talks about Al Gore's sighs after talking about how horrible Bush looked on the split screen. Says Kerry cleaned Bush's clock. A Republican strategist responds by saying it was not a great night for either man. He says we'll be seeing Bush's mistakes show up on Saturday Night Live, and Kerry's mistakes show up in Bush campaign commercials.

Hmmm, I think SNL was VERY important last time; it was one big way Gore LOST the perception battle about the first debate, and it made Gore into a pussycat the next debate. We'll see how effective the GOP ridicule machine is this time, but the raw material clearly is against Bush. On the substantive point about Bush's campaign commercials, what that commentator and others are saying is that Kerry's remark about a "global test" is going to show up again and again. I do not think it was wise for Kerry to use that phrase. But Kerry has other lines the Bush campaign can use for commercials, I'd figure.

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