Kerry Looks To Give Another Strong Performance In Upcoming Debate

By now, you’ve probably heard everything you needed to hear about last Thursday’s presidential debate. All of the pundits from Chris Matthews to Paul Begala to even (shudder) Sean Hannity have chimed in their two cents on the epic presidential battle, so I’ll keep my remarks brief. With his back against the wall, John Kerry delivered the goods against a befuddled and bewildered George W. Bush. Kerry knew his material. Bush did not. Kerry articulated his points in clear, concise and direct sentences. Bush was repetitive, unclear and at times confusing. Kerry was presidential. Bush was not. In a debate focusing on foreign policy, a proclaimed Republican strength, the President failed miserably defending his administration’s foreign policy agenda. Yes sir, this was a Grade A, old-fashioned, ass-kicking courtesy of John F. Kerry. President Bush looked bothered, as if he’d rather be doing something else. The President seemed tired of having to explain his administration’s policies to the American people. Bush hates this. He hates having to argue his positions in order to get his way. He’s used to just doing whatever he wants. His half-hearted attempt at diplomacy last year with the United Nations proved too difficult, so he said “screw ’em”, and went to war anyway. By all accounts, it’s clear that Kerry won the style points of the night, but what about the issues? President Bush attempted to paint John Kerry as an inconsistent flip-flopper who would send “mixed messages” to terrorists and thus make America weaker. Kerry countered the president by stating that the administration’s positions on Iraq have been consistently wrong. This is a key point. We have an administration that has a broken policy in Iraq but refuses to change course in order to correct things. Where is the virtue in that? This would be a like a general leading his troops confidently and resolutely off a cliff. Sure, the general is confident in his actions, but misguided in his decision-making process. This simple analogy is quite relevant to the Bush administration’s policy in Iraq.The fact remains that there is no simple plan that will get us out of the mess in Iraq. We don’t have enough troops. Terrorists are, in the words of the new Iraqi Prime Minister, “pouring through” the borders. With the revelation that weapons of mass destruction were destroyed a decade ago, America’s credibility in the Arab world is damaged. Do these candidates have simple solutions to these problems? No, of course not. However, we must ask the question: who made this horrendous mess?With this presidential debate in the books, what can voters look for in Friday’s contest? The format will be a “town hall” style, with audience members asking questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues.Certainly, President Bush will be better prepared, considering his pitiful showing last week. Another factor in Bush’s favor will be the extremely low expectations the media will set for him. As long as George Bush doesn’t pledge his allegiance to al-Qaeda, the media will spin this Friday’s debate as a victory for the president. If Bush has a better grasp on his policies and displays presidential body language, his performance will improve dramatically.It’s going to be another high-pressured night for Senator Kerry. He needs to show voters that he can relate to the audience members. Above all, Kerry needs to stay aggressive, as he was last Thursday, in his attacks on President Bush. If Kerry can shift the emphasis to domestic issues, particularly health care and the lagging economy, Kerry will do very well in the debate. He needs to stress the Bush tax cut and how it’s benefited a very small portion of the American public. Since these debates seem to be mostly about style, Kerry needs to project strength. He did this masterfully last Thursday, and he needs to do it again on Friday. Americans need to see a strong John Kerry who will keep them safe and hunt down terrorists.