Okay, I have to do this fast because I have tons of deadlines to meet tonight.<br><br>I'm not sure what station all of you guys watched the program on, but I thought since Jim Lehrer was moderating, it would only be fair to watch WTTW (PBS Chicago). I liked the warning lights being visible to the audience. (As has been commented earlier.) That really kept Jim from having to interrupt them and enforce the time restrictions. The coverage on PBS was stellar, except they did something I thought was really stupid at the end. After talking to a bunch of presidential historians that said the usual "this didn't compare to X vs. X in 19XX" they went to a Democrat and Republican campaign worker to talk to them. Predictably, they both claimed their candidate "won" the debate and the Republican repeated some of the Bush debate themes. That's not news! I already knew what they were going to say almost to the word. It was just a complete waste of network time. That was my only knit pick though.<br><br>Okay, you don't care about PBS coverage though, right?<br><br>Well, Bush made several strategic, rhetorical mistakes during the course of the debate. The biggest one had to be his whole concept of plausible deniability. I suppose you could call it, "playing dumb," and people have to be sick of it. John Kerry would clearly describe something, such as the "world test" of foreign policy so that the slowest television viewer would understand and Bush would respond during his alloted time with a remark to the tune of, "I don't know what that means." That's unacceptable, especially from a sitting president. He proved himself completely unable to support his own agenda in concrete terms. Sure, he could talk all day about values or characteristics, but until he explains them in clear, concrete terms, people will see right through it and think he looks unprepared.<br><br>I get the feeling that Bush was very badly trying to hold on to his strategy of attack in a forum where it was not going to get him anywhere. For instance, he would attack Kerry, calling him inconsistent, after which Kerry would plainly and clearly defend himself. Instead of trying to find weaknesses in Kerry's defense, he would go back to the same old attack and try to pawn it off again as a policy criticism.<br><br>Kerry didn't have a perfect debate either. He missed a number of opportunities to make some extremely valid policy criticisms of the president, and instead spent his time hammering on the whole "building alliances" theme. I know he thinks that it's central to his campaign's message, but all he had to do to connect with voters was take it a step farther and show how the policy contrast has been detrimental to soldiers in Iraq, or even our national budget. He should have connected it all, but left it to the viewer's imagination.<br><br>There is a huge lesson here in writing and rhetoric. Always be concrete. ABC, it's easy to remember. Kerry didn't do it all the time, but he did it more than Bush and ended up appearing better prepared.<br><br>-- Charlie Alpha Roger Yankee Whiskey<br>
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