Thursday, September 09, 2004

Presidential debates

What should the strategy of Kerry be in the presidential debates?

Right now their looks like their will be two or three debates. The first and last one will be about domestic policy and foreign policy. I don't know which order. There may or not be a second one.

originally there where three planned, but Bush's debate team is pushing for two. The theory driving that decision is Bush stands to lose much,but gain little because he is an incumbent. They are citing the type of debate the middle one is,a Q and A with undecided voters, to strike it. I think who ever is behind in the polls should push for more debates. It will make them look aggressive and the other person look sly, unapproachable, and unwilling to fight head on with the other candidate. In fact, Kerry has already asked for a debate every week until the election occurs. I think that was over the top. Pushing for 4 debates would be good move in my book.

When asked a question Kerry can do several things: Attack Bush's record, promote himself, attack Bush's ideas for the future. Attacking Bush's record is one of the worst things he can do. First off, everyone knows his record, so nothing new is going to come out of that. Secondly, Kerry will meet a wall of conviction. Bush will strip away the long, boring political process talk and concentrate on the reason why he acted in the way he did. In other words from Bush you will get, "I did what I did because I believed it made America safer" . You can argue if Bush's actions accomplished what he wanted to do, but you cannot argue with Bush's goal. Kerry can attempt to cast Bush's judgment into question. That is just trying to jump over the wall of conviction, not avoiding it entirely.

Kerry should promote himself by contrasting his ideas for the future against Bush's ideas. If the democrats ideas are really better, I think that the American people will see that and vote for Kerry. Bush has stated his plan, although it is weak on the details. I think it is important to point out that Bush has gotten many things that he wanted accomplished from his first term: Education and Medicare Reform. He has a track record of doing things, he said he would do. I also think that while I care about the details, some people may not. As much as I know, I still know very little about the details of the two things I mentioned earlier. As much as each side may mention about detials, they are of limited use. Kerry should explain what he wants to do, not how he wants to do it, and explain fundamentally why Bush's ideas are wrong. Concentrating on the future and his plans, is what Kerry needs to do.



Andrew said...

The buzz is that Kerry's real strategy isn't realized in the debates themselves, but in the run up. For a few weeks now he's been promoting Bush as a 'good debater', who never lost a debate. It's really ingenious--it empties a 'Bush win' in the debates from any meaning ("of course he won! that's the one thing he's good at!"), but makes a 'Bush loss' even more devastating ("the great debater lost a debate to this guy? Wow!")

And I disagree about people really understanding Bush's massive failures in sticking to his 2000 platform. For whatever reason:
*the economy is worse off than when Bush started,
*health coverage is less available than when Bush started,
*Head Start is worse off than when Bush started
*his government spending has been historically irresponsible, even if you discount war spending
*he "flip-flopped" on whether gay marriage decisions should be up to the states, and then failed to get an amendment through Congress
*middle class families have an increased effective tax burden
*Bush failed to deliver Tort Reform
*Bush failed to deliver a school voucher program
*Bush failed to improve the solvency of Social Security
*Bush failed to pass a successful energy policy
*the country is more divided and less united

Those are a lot of talking points, and given that even you said "He has a track record of doing things, he said he would do," they need to be said a lot more. You can view his 2000 campaign statements here:

To be fair, here's what he can claim, despite his party having a majority in both Houses:
*Medicare prescription drug coverage (good)
*No Child Left Behind (good)
*A shift in the tax burden (questionable value)
*invaded Afghanistan (good, but unfinished)
*invaded Iraq (mixed value)

Bush's record is vital in this election--he's an incumbant, but rests shitty record--mostly because he wagered a lot on Iraq, and met mixed results (politically).

Cubicle said...

"empties a 'Bush win' in the debates from any meaning"

wow...that is a really good idea. I guess that is one more reason why bush should not debate. A win only has limited value (in a business sense, greater risk and less reward ='s bad investment)

"Bush's record is vital in this election"

I would agree, but Kerry has already given up on agrueing Iraq (mainly because he can't really prove tha he could do much better, and his stragey is not much different than Bush's at this point in time) and has starting concentrating on the econmy (that's the buzz i heard). Again i will point out that if Kerry argues Iraq he will meet a wall of conviction, not to mention his past statments, both are hard to argue away.

Where kerry is going to gain ground is on the issues, as you pointed out. How to do that is contast bush's ideas with his own, in my opinion.

/shaking of head
wow...bush is a good debater.

So kerry is expecting to lose the debates, but is hoping that he can rasie expections to high for bush.


Dave Justus said...

I think that Kerry is facing much higher expectations than Bush is. Bush is widely regarded as not being very articulate (and even dumb by many on the left). Kerry is supposed to be an articulate intellectual. So from that perspective a tie is a win for Bush.

I do think that Bush's skills are underrated here. He has a great capacity for connecting to people, and to a large degree that is more important in a political debate than how well you express your ideas.

As to Andrew's list of all the bad things that Bush has done, well, that's a long subject that I won't go into here. Suffice it to say I disagree with most of it.

Kokopelli said...

Although I had not heard very much of the praise of Bush as a debater, I'm not surprised at the tactic. By most objective counts, Gore beat or tied Bush in every debate. However, Bush "beat the point spread" because so little was expected of him. I see the Kerry camp trying to preemptively weaken Bush's "advantage of lower expectations". Bush does do well connecting to people and Kerry's patrician manner could do him some harm with the TV audience. But I think it would be a grave mistake for Kerry to try to re-invent himself a la Al Gore. Kerry has an east coast, prep school manner about him because he is an east coast prep school kind of guy (never mind that Bush graduated from Yale). Kerry also needs to learn to be succinct and pointed in his answers to complicated questions, something Bush often excels at.
In short, I'd say that Kerry has got the best content to deliver but Bush has the better delivery style.

Brian said...

Wow, y'all're gettin all heavy here. In the spirit of frivolity (I've promised not to blog about anything serious today) I'll point out one thing. You say:

"The first and last one will be about domestic policy and foreign policy. I don't know which order. There may or not be a second one."

Did Kerry write that sentence? It does sound like something Sir Doubletalk would propose. Let's have only have two debates; we won't have a second debate. Two debates, but no second one! We could call that Kerrymath, or maybe Massematics.

PS I know, I know; we all know what you meant. I don't mean to be cheeky, it's just that the parallel to ol' "I voted for it before I voted against it" is just too tempting to pass up.

Cubicle said...

aggghh i have know be qouted out of context.

/pencil marking check on worn out list

/to self i say, Now if i can only get glenn rynolds to qoute me i will be well on to taking over the world.