Breakin’ da rules
No time for a full pre-debate analysis, so I’ll just make a couple of observations and predictions.
First, I agree with nearly everything that J. McIntyre says on Real Clear Politics’ commentary “What can Kerry do?” Senator Splunge will come out swinging and almost certainly will disregard the “rules” as a way to throw Bush off his game. I believe more than anything that Kerry wants to get close to Bush to accentuate their (slight) difference in height. (It’s just about all he’s got going for him.) To an equal degree, I believe the Bush team will be ready for such a stunt and turn it around on Kerry with the same devastating effect as that Dubya head-nod which dispatched Gore in 2000.
Second, I think Kerry needs to be aggressive and hyper-critical because it’s a way to distract voters from the fact that, even at this late date, Kerry still has no coherent plan on Iraq. I mean just look at this transcript from Kerry’s interview with Diane Sawyer. A day before the more important debate of his life and Senator Splunge cannot explain where he stands on any aspect of the war. I predict disaster right from the get-go.
Bush will not lose his cool, no matter what. You won’t see an imprudent outburst. Let Kerry crash his yacht on the rocks – Bush will be “Presidential.”
Kerry will speak about the violence in Iraq today as evidence of a failed policy, but Bush will turn it around as a reason why America needs to stay and fight for the future of Iraq.
Bush has the final word tonight, since he won the coin toss to make the final statement. It will be forceful and memorable repetition of the theme he’ll be hammering all night: I’ll keep you safer than this guy.
Bush will make a joke. The rumor is he’ll be using the Regis Philbin line: “Is that your final answer?” Kerry will respond in one of two ways:
1.) If he also has a joke scripted, he’ll use it to show his “human” side. The delivery will be awful and it will be met with confused laughter (think the “I was born in the West Wing” “joke” during his acceptance speech). OR
2.) He’ll make an overwrought declaration that “this is no time for joking.” If he chooses this latter course, Bush will almost certainly respond that the only “journalists” Kerry has met with over the past two months are Jon Stewart and David Letterman. Bush could also respond: “This is a serious time, which is why we need serious answers and not the basket case that is your response to the war on terror.”
Either will do.