Friday, October 08, 2004

Eve of Round Two

Tonight is, of course, the Town Hall-style debate between Kerry and El Presidente. Round Two. If you were to treat the debates like a playoff series, I feel this one might actually be a "must win" situation for El Presidente. His momentum is all but gone. Kerry's rally is continuing, even surging past Bush in several polls now. States that seemed solidly in the Bush column for weeks have suddenly come back into play. Word is that new RVs have been overwhelmingly Democratic because of the campaign's excellent ground strategy. As one article online today put it, Bush is increasingly begining to sound "desperate."

Worse for the President has been the "real world," which has been daily presenting evidence contrary to everything he and his campaign says. As Kerry said yesterday, Bush and Cheney "may well be the last two people on the planet who won't face the truth about Iraq." Escalating violence in Iraq, with more and more insurgent attacks every day and every month. A report on WMDs in Iraq which clearly indicates that sanctions, inspections and isolation of Iraq had served their purpose...whether or not Hussein would have started trying to get them back in the sanctions had been lifted. Its one thing to say that "things are getting better," but when people see evidence to the contrary...it looks like you're not being straight with people. The worst thing about "the real world" is that Bush and his campaign handlers cannot control it. You can only try to spin what happens and at that point, you're increasingly vulnerable to attacks that you're trying to spin reality. In hindsight, perhaps the only memorable thing that will come out of the debate between Cheney and Edwards was the Senator's first line:
"Mr. Vice President, you are still not being straight with the American people."
This one line is perhaps the most powerful and effective line so-far in the campaign. I've seen some polls that show this to have really resonated with people, which is why Kerry and Edwards have continued to use it, and why I'm almost positive you'll hear it from Senator Kerry tonight (I'll be shocked if I don't). Attacking the honesty of El Presidente's administration and its unwillingness to "come clean" with the American people in the face of reality isn't something the campaign can effectively counter. They cannot admit the mistake, since it goes against everything they've said and believe. But the increasing evidence from the "real world" has them between a rock and a hard place.

And the news gets worse for El Presidente. Starting tonight, he'll have to move to domestic policy, where his positions are less popular even than Iraq. Kerry can hammer home the domestic mess this administration has caused and bring up the incredibly unpopular Patriot Act and John Ashcroft. He can hammer the President wanting to write bigotry into the constitution (though I'm not sure that will come up tonight). The budget defecit, the debt, the tax cuts we couldn't afford and were for the wealthy, the health care mess (the #1 domestic policy issure, according to polls, and the issue Bush's stance is least in line with popular opinion).

We'll see. Should be interesting.

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