Saturday, October 09, 2004
Bush appears to be headed back to a four to six point lead.
Earlier this week, as I mentioned below, Dick Cheney treated John Edwards like a man beating a rented mule. The Vice-President set the standard for his boss for second Presidential debate in St. Louis. The key tactical shift was to attack Senator John Kerry's Senate voting record with alacrity and precision. The attacks were critical to the impression that Cheney secured a win for the Vice-President and breathing room for President Bush.
Last night in St. Louis, the President handled himself extremely well. The "townhall" format played to the strengths of both candidates, but allowed Bush to be in an element in which he thrives. Senator Kerry was not able to seriously damage Bush, while Bush once again attacked Kerry's Senate record relentlessly.
The entire thrust of Kerry's campaign has been to keep his Vietnam service front and center and his Senate record off the table. For example, Kerry has highlighted his support from retired generals and admirals to great effect. There was more brass on the dais of the Democratic Convention than existed in the last six Bolivian governments. The object was to lend credibility to the idea of a John Kerry presidency while keeping the focus on things military and away from the Senate. "Band of Brothers" and all that.
What the Bush people have done is to have saved attacks on Kerry's record for the last month, in order to put him away. One Republican goon remarked to the people at Crushkerry.com that the plan had been to wait until October all year. Money graph:
“October,” the operative, who asked to remain nameless, told us. “We couldn’t stay quiet all year. And if we’d been hitting him [Kerry] on his liberal record all year, it would have grown stale and lost its punch, like the flip-flop stuff has. The plan was always to barrage him with his record and brand him a Massachusetts and Washington liberal during the crucial month of October."
Expect Bush to ride this pony all the way back to the White House.
As to the debate itself? Well, in all likelihood, on points and on style, the debate was probably a draw. What has Republicans very happy is the fact that Bush looked like the victor, simply because he was expected to do so poorly. Kerry had to beat Bush into a bloody pulp last night, and he never even got close.
Remember what was written earlier in this column: Bush wins all ties because Kerry has to come from behind.
Meantime, a roundup of the reactions of Conservative bloggerdom:
As mentioned above, Crushkerry has a good jump on the debate, including the interesting reactions of an apolitical housewife elsewhere on that blog. And as always, Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit noise machine is ready with insta-reactions. He has a ton of links in that article from yesterday. Finally, I would encourage you to run over to the always entertaining Hugh Hewitt out of California. Although he doesn't say it, he believes that Bush gave Kerry a sound rogering. Elsewhere in his blog, he raises the ghosts of Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain in an effort to prove that while one should never speak ill of the dead, in Senator Kerry's case, it is often too difficult to speak well of the living. Finally, Deacon, the Big Trunk, and Hindrocket have at it over at Powerline, now made famous by its critical role in the undoing of Dan Rather.
Oh, and Afghanis voted in massive numbers yesterday in the Parliamentary elections. Well done, fellows, and a shout out to the men of the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain, and the Marine Corps, who stood watch during the proceedings.