Off his strings
I realize that my standards for a person's verbal coherence are probably much higher than average, but OH. MY. GOD. Quite frankly, Bush's performance tonight lent a great deal of credibility to the idea that Bush was wired for the first debate and actually received backstage assistance. It will be interesting to look at the transcript, because my gut impression was that most of W's answers were incoherent, even when they made some effort to answer the questions. It reminded me a lot of Dana Carvey's sendup of his father: you boil it down, and basically connect slogans and catchphrases with ellipses. Doesn't matter if it actually means anything. Wow.
A few more thoughts:
The irony of W describing himself as belonging to a "school of thought" was almost too much for me to bear.
The idea of a strict interpretation of the Constitution refusing the separation of church and state? Uhhh...what?!
Thank goodness W has "protected" us these past 4 years from those mysterious, potentially unsafe Canadian drugs.
Factcheck.org, the site cited by Cheney, reports both that the Republican definition of a "small business" does include W, and that he does indeed own part of a timber company, which apparently is "news" to him. Kerry's original point, that the Republican stats on the number of small businesses affected by Kerry's proposal are artificially inflated by a loophole-ridden definition? Yeah, that point was dead-on. W's response to having misled us? "Anybody want some wood?" Hardy har har.
Bush's big tagline, the one I've already seen circulating, was the dopey "you can run but you can't hide." Delivered twice, and each time rather poorly, the W machine seemed to believe that Kerry was going to try to hide. But he didn't. What makes him credible as someone who can be fiscally responsible (thanks to the current administration, this cannot be considered synonymous with "fiscally conservative") is that he broke party lines to vote for a balanced budget. Kerry was both prepared and willing to defend and/or explain his record, something that Bush refuses to do at almost every turn.
I was really struck tonight by the difference between Bush's strategy ("he said no.") and Kerry's ("here's why I said no."). More than anything else, that was the key difference for me that emerged from the debate. And more than anything else, I was struck by how unprepared W seemed to be able to handle anything more complicated than "he said no." That's not clarity--it's misleading simplicity, imposed upon issues that are by their very natures complicated. I don't doubt Cheney's ability to handle complexity; with him, I simply don't trust his motives in doing so. But W does nothing and says nothing that leads me to believe he is actually capable of exercising judgment. The more I see of him, the scarier that becomes to me. Almost as scary as the apparent spin from the pundits that, because W didn't behave like a squirmy pre-adolescent, he was somehow Presidential. We deserve better.