I watched most of the debate last night (with side trips to a guilty pleasure, Escape from LA on the SciFi Channel) and I agree with the folks who dubbed it "parallel press conferences". While both candidates used their entire war chest of talking points, W seemed to run out of things to say as he repeated the same stale lines over and over. Kerry’s at least sounded fresher, maybe because the talking heads channels haven’t allowed his surrogates to repeat them as many times.
For the post-debate spin I switched over to Fox "news" – for a fair and balanced analysis, of course. The panel they had assembled was a pretty dour group, struggling both to find something good to say about W’s performance as well as anything bad to say about Kerry. It’s a pretty bad sign for W when the folks at Fox can’t fill a half hour with unwarranted praise for him.
The prize for best debate analysis, however, goes to Jon Stewart and his crew at the Daily Show. Samantha Bee’s piece on why the undecided still can’t make up their minds was right on target. By the way, if you haven’t read America (The Book) by the Daily Show writers, you are missing an outstanding explaination of American history, government and politics – which is also very funny. They should make this required reading in high school government classes.
In the end, the debate didn’t change my mind but it did help make up my mind. If you’ve read this little rant fest for the past couple of years (and I thank you for that), I’ve made it pretty clear that I don’t like W’s policies on terrorism, war, the budget, education, the environment, and just about everything else. But I don’t want to vote against someone in this election. In this debate, Kerry made it easier to vote for him.