My very, very belated thoughts on the debate:
I preceded the debate by attending a talk at Dartmouth by Andrew Sullivan. While dead-on on Bush, particularly when talking about the Iraq mismanagement (I’ve never seen a more eloquent speech about Abu Ghraib) and budgetary issues, he was pretty much an apologist on the war on terror, tax cuts, and education. Education, particularly, he shrugged off, claiming people who support increased funding for the No Child Left Behind bill are in favor of “big government”. But his lines about the war were deeper. He painted it as an epic struggle between good and evil, like a more articulate Bush. He even suggested that terror threat is greater than the communist one during the Cold War. I can’t take him seriously on this when he’s being so hyperbolic; terrorism, however disgusting, is not a huge threat to the country, and shouldn’t be treated like it is. However, he is a great speaker, and it was fun to read him blog about Hanover (Dartmouth’s town). I think Kerry, while not scoring a “there is no Soviet influence in Eastern Europe”-type blowout, won a solid, and significant victory. He appeared very self-confident, his meticulous note-taking made him appear intellectual, but not in a stuffy way, and his whole demeanor made him seem much more presidential than the frowning, gargoyle-like Bush. This will affect the race. Anything that has the New York Post (an, obviously, conservative publication) asking Karl Rove if it was Bush’s worst debate ever is certain to. And anything that was viewed by more than 62.5 million Americans could quite possible swing it. I think that the race is back where it was before the RNC, which is as good as we could have hoped for.