Friday, October 01, 2004

Debate Analysis

John Kerry has run such a bad campaign filled with so many errors and contradictions that the fact that he did not run out on the stage and repeat his "I voted for the 87 Billion before I voted against it" gaffe has caused many weak knee'd Bush supporters (Hindrocket at Powerline, the guys at RealClearPolitics) to fall for the polished delivery of Kerry's presentation. Yes, John Kerry probably won on style, but on substance Kerry may have hurt himself very badly.

He played to the hard left in his party. He repeatedly said the war in Iraq was a mistake. He referred to Halliburton and repeatedly asserted that Bush lied about the intelligence that took us to war. That may have solidified the vote of the Michael Moore crowd, but it will not play well with the average voter who believes that Iraq is central to the war on terror.

Kerry managed to play to his worst stereotypes. His repeated allusions to summits, the United Nations and worst of all "passing a global test" before taking action to defend the country. That actually reaffirmed the words of Zell Miller from his speech at the RNC, "Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending". With his "passing a global test" comment Kerry actually admitted what Zerll Miller said is true. He was unable to clarify his position on Iraq, his attempt to clarify was actually more confusing: Saddam Hussein was a threat, he had to be disarmed, I agree with the President, I voted for the war, but... the war was a mistake. I doubt that was very clarifying to anyone. Kerry was also unable to defend his constant denigrating of the contributions of our allies in Iraq, nor was he able to defend his and his campaigns undermining of Prime Minister of Allawi. how indeed do you ask convince countries to send troops tojoin you in a "grand diversion"?

Kerry is also relying on the ASmericn people knowing nothing about his record for some of his answers in the debate. He referenced Ronald Reagan and the coalition he built in the Cold War. He also mentioned Reagan in regards to the Commander in Chiefs authority to take pre-emptive action to defend the country. Guess who was not part of Reagan's coalition and was vehemently opposed to Reagan's build-up of missiles that would have been the initial assault in pre-emptive action? John Kerry. Kerry's reference the President Bush's father's words about not taking the troops all the way to Baghdad is another example of Kerry's inability to understand that to most Americans the world changed after September 11th, and the statement has an inherent contradiction. Pre-September 11th, not removing Saddam from power might have been acceptable, but not after the devestation we saw three years ago. Many people believed at the time that it was a mistake to leave Saddam in power, and the fact that we are back in Iraq 12 years later would seem to bear that out. In the debate John Kerry seemed to suggest that President Bush should have heeded the words of his father. After September 11th could we afford to leave Saddam (and his sons) in power for another 10 years? Repeat the mistake a second time? Allow him to get stronger befoer we invade for a third time?

The President also caught Kerry in several mistakes. North Korea produced weapons using uranium, not plutonium. The sanctions on Iran were implemented by the Clinton Administration, not the Bush Administration. Kerry's repeated assertion that we must have bilateral talks with North Korea wreaks of Clinton era policies that led to North Korea's development of nuclear weapons. Kerry again repeated that he would sell nuclear fuel to Iran and then rely on weapons inspectors to ensure they were using the fuel and their reactors for peaceful purposes. People across America who realize that September 11th changed the way we face potential threats will not be heartened to know that John Kerry will give the Mullahs of Iran the fuel needed to produce a weapon and then rely on Hans Blix to ensure that they don't. The policy makes no sense and Kerry will not fool many Americans or win many votes with it. Kerry also stated that he would end our bunker busting weapons program. Bad move. Kerry is known for his voting down of weapons systems, and the American people will just add this one to the list. This is an extension of his 1980's era nuclear freeze persona and is not likely to play well with voters who do trust this country with that type weapon and realize it could be a valuable asset in the war on terror.

Despite what many have said, there was a gaffe in the debate and it was a big gaffe. John Kerry's assertion that before he would take action to defend the country we would have to "pass a global test" is the one really memorable soundbite from the debate and it is the worst possible soundbite for John Kerry. It reinforces every negative streotype about John Kerry's willingness and desire to allow the world to dictate when and how America defends itself. It is even more of a blow for Kerry because the President immediately called him on it. One of the biggest fears people have is that as president, Kerry would allow the United Nations to in effect control our military. Again I refer to Zell Miller's assertion that John Kerry would allow "Paris to decide when America needs defending". With his "global test" statement Kerry played right into that fear. We would indeed, through the use of a "global test", allow other countries to decide when America would take action in its own defense. It will be in commercials from now until election day and it will not play well for Kerry.

The debate served to draw a very big distinction between the two candidates. One candidate is willing to defend America when it has to be defended, leading a coaltion of the willing, even in the face of worldwide opposition. The other candidate will defend America if the defense "passes a global test" and not as the leader of a coalition, but as simply a member of that coalition, will rely on summits and treaties and the good will of tyrants to try to secure America. That is the substance of what will be taken from the debate. George Bush will do whatever it takes to keep your children safe, John Kerry will submit the United states to a "global test". I think it is a test American's are not willing to take.

Update:

A Gallup Poll and an ABC News poll taken after the debate bith show that while many people think Kerry "won' the debate, it did little to change anyone's mind. In fact, the internals of the polls are bad news for Kerry, with Bush scoring higher in almost every category.

Overall impact of the debate will be determined by how each side uses the other's answers in the coming days, and with Kerry's "global test" gaffe the president has a clear advantage there.

The main stream media and the Democrats will attempt to spin this into a Kerry comeback, but the substance of Kerry's answers will not play well in the coming days.


Be sure to check the current posts for updates.