Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Final thoughts on the Final Debate

In 10 words, George Bush was John Kerry's daddy, but who was watching?

In more than 10 words, I think that Bush decisively defeated Kerry in this debate, but the victory may not help the president as much as he might hope, thanks to the baseball playoffs. I would predict that at worst, the current poll average of a 2 point Bush lead will stay put, and at best, the president gets a 2 point bump. Bush was in command of his facts, had better facts, and really kept Kerry on the defensive for most of the night. It has been my belief since the debates started that the pressure was on Kerry to land huge blows to Bush in order to change the momentum of this race. Tonight we saw Kerry "in defeat and retreat", to borrow Bush's line. Not only did Kerry score no significant hits on Bush, the president on several occasions had Kerry completely flummoxed. Key examples were the health care question, and every single time taxes were discusssed. And I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when Bush finally hung the albatross of Kerry's 1991 Gulf War vote around his neck. Too bad he didn't do it in the other debates.

In addition, I think Kerry made a huge mistake bringing up Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter during the question about gay marriage. I think most people will consider this over the line and a low blow.

All in all, Kerry has not only failed to swing the momentum his way, I think that Bush will come out of this debate with increased momentum. I believe Kerry now has two last hopes to pull the election out. The first is some sort of major scandal about Bush, a la the drunk driving charges in 2000. The second is massive voter fraud in key swing states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and especially Ohio. The good news for Bush is that there are probably no further skeletons to be dragged out of the closet, and, to paraphrase the title of Hugh Hewitt's book, "If it isn't close, they can't cheat."

I think Bush sealed the deal tonight. If the polls next week stay the same or bump for Bush, then it's over.