Thursday, September 30, 2004

Pre-Debate Thoughts

The debate begins in half an hour. At this stage, Bush clearly has the momentum coming in, and is in a much better position than Kerry. All Bush really has to do tonight is reiterate his well-known positions on Iraq and terrorism. Bush can afford to be relaxed and allow simply play keep-away with Kerry. In other words, Bush comes into the debate ahead on points, and just has to keep Kerry from landing any knockout punches. However, Bush has shown himself over and over to be a risk-taker, and I fully expect him to go after Kerry on his multitude of positions on Iraq. Bush will attempt to keep the initiative and stay on offense in order to prevent Kerry from mustering any momentum of his own.

Kerry, on the other hand, MUST score a knockout during this debate. For better or worse, Kerry has ceded the domestic agenda to Bush and is zeroing in on Iraq and the war on terror. He will not get another chance between now and the election to seize momentum. This puts him in the unenviable position of having to attack Bush on the president's favorite terrain. Not only must he constantly attack, he must inflict serious damage in order to win this debate. His plan of attack is therefore one-dimensional at the time he can least afford it. I expect that Kerry will be so locked into attack mode that he either a) commits a serious gaffe, b) does not defend against Bush's counterattacks, and/or c) turns off voters in much the same manner as Al Gore did with his huffing and sighing in 2000.

Personally, I'm looking forward to a real slobberknocker.