Sunday, October 03, 2004

1st debate highlights

"He claimed he must be followed because he is the leader."

"Time and again, as he tried to halt Kerry, he accused him of "mixed signals" and "inconsistency." For Bush, certainty equals strength. Kerry responded with a devastating deconstruction of Bush's epistemology. Nothing like this critique of pure reason has ever been heard in a presidential debate. "It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong," said Kerry."

Kerry's analysis of Bush's "colossal error of judgment" in Iraq was systematic, factual and historical. The coup de grace was the citation of the president's father's actions in the Gulf war. "You know," said Kerry, "the president's father did not go into Iraq, into Baghdad, beyond Basra. And the reason he didn't is, he said - he wrote in his book - because there was no viable exit strategy. And he said our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land. That's exactly where we find ourselves today."

In flustered response, Bush simply insisted on his authority. "I just know how this world works ... there must be certainty from the US president." He reverted to his claim that September 11 justified the invasion of Iraq because "the enemy" - Saddam Hussein - "attacked us." A stunned but swift-footed Kerry observed: "The president just said something extraordinarily revealing and frankly very important ... he just said, 'The enemy attacked us'. Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us."

Bush couldn't adjust. The greater his frustration in the debate, the more frequently he spoke of his difficulties in coping with "my job." Ten times he spoke of his "hard work"