There’s plenty of good analysis about the debate (just not in my beloved Washington Post). Josh Marshall’s take is pretty good.
While most observers say Kerry achieved what he wanted, i.e., to look and sound like a credible commander-in-chief, the real test comes in the next few days to see if the GOP can spin it otherwise. I suspect the one quote you’ll hear the right talk about was when Kerry said a pre-emptive strike must “pass a global test.” He seemed to regret the words as soon as they came out. My guess is that is one of the phrases that will be in the president’s speeches, perhaps an ad and certainly in the right wing cable TV and radio echo chamber. Kerry better have a quick answer.
But Kerry still has work to do. He did not address the mangled “I voted for it, before I against it” syntax. He had the chance and could have said, “I always supported the $67 million for our soldiers but I thought the additional $20 billion for Iraq reconstruction should have come from rich taxpayers who’ve never been asked to sacrifice for this war. I voted for the bill when they were asked to join our soldiers in sacrifice, but when the president said he didn’t want them to sacrifice and backed a competing bill, I voted against it as a protest.”
Kerry also needs to look at the camera. Speak to the people, not to the moderator. TV commentators always respond to questions from the host by turning directly to the camera. Bush was better at this.
He also needs to ridicule the president more. He should make a point of trying to make light of his not including Poland in the alliance – as if they are critical. And when he talks about allies he should refer to them as “world power” allies, to make the distinction between them and Costa Rica et al. He could also use the quote Kevin Drum uncovered.
Here’s what President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland thinks of the coalition today: “They deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that’s true. We were taken for a ride.”
While the rules say he can’t address Bush directly, he should occasionally look directly at Bush when speaking. I’ll bet that will rattle Bush or cause him to give us one of his unforgettable faces, perhaps the “My Pet Goat” deer-in-the-headlights stare.
Kerry also need to make the point in the town hall debate that he says he’ll win the war in Iraq only because he is responsible enough to know that just because Bush made a monumental mistake we can’t walk away from it, but that we’ll be cleaning up after Bush for a long time to come and Bush must be held accountable.