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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, March 1

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Steve / October 1, 2004 7:19 AM

The challenger looked presidential, and the president looked challenged. What was up with George's eye-rolling? His "it's hard work" mantra? His invocation of my Polish brethren, whose President Aleksander Kwasniewski recently had this to say about the Mess o' Potamia: "They deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that's true. We were taken for a ride."?

Kerry in a landslide.

steve_sleeve / October 1, 2004 8:07 AM

my favorite line was when bush said (ever so defensively) "i know osama bin laden attacked the united states ... i know that!"

really though, bush just kept repeating himself. he had a couple small rounds of debate ammo that he fired off pretty quickly, then tried to re-load well past when he made his point.

is there actually anyone out there (besides giuliani and FOX news) that really thought bush actually did a good job? not so much.

jennifer / October 1, 2004 9:17 AM

Bush was acting like a petulant child with his eye-rolling and head-shaking and obvious anger and annoyance. I had to turn it off because I was getting too angry.

Katie / October 1, 2004 9:18 AM

That's good to know that so many people out there thought Kerry won! I only caught the tail of the debates and watched some of the commentary and was totally confused! Some of the commentators were saying Bush did a great job. What? What I saw was a smirking, bumbling, jerk that could barely talk! Speaking wise, I thought Kerry had a great pace when he spoke. Bush, stumbled and could barely get the words out of his mouth. Kerry won by a landslide!

anne / October 1, 2004 9:21 AM

It was really amazing that Bush acutally started whining during the debates. And there was one moment where he flashed a strange "I won" grin at Kerry that was something out of elementary school. It was really astoundingly bad form on his part and Kerry really stepped up to the plate with great form. I was impressed.

Did anyone else think that the set looked a little bit too much like Jepoardy? When they did the single shots of the speakers, I expected them to be stating their answers in the form of a question. Visually, it was an extraordinary job at making a debate boring.

Mike / October 1, 2004 9:27 AM

Kerry did very well in my view. I thought Bush kept up with Kerry for the first half of the debate but then became confused and tired. Jim Lehrer did well keeping the two in line.

Kerry - 1 Bush - 0

marbles / October 1, 2004 9:34 AM

I agree that Kerry bested Bush in addressing the issues of the debate, but he made a great mistake in not engaging the camera. Just wait, you're going to hear from a number of voters how emotionally engaging and personal Bush was in his delivery -- however incoherent it might have been.

miss ellen / October 1, 2004 9:55 AM

the daily show afterwards was brillant, of course. couldn't watch the debate itself due to a dinner engagement, but have it on TIVO for the weekend. i did manage to sneak in the 30 minutes of daily show when i got home before bed. even stewart complemented kerry for finally showing up with a clear message; and believe me, stewart does not give praise so easily to kerry.

the clips of bush were classic. classic in that he acted like a pompous, well-connected ass who isn't very well-educated, authoritative or even likable.

they interviewed wesley clark for the kerry spin and then guiliani. i think guiliani literally read from the same script 4 years ago when they tried (successfully) to spin it badly against gore. something like, "well, we don't want to be talked down to and that's just what john kerry did".

hmmmm, well, i'd rather a man who can take a stand and be a bit harsh. this is the president people, not your f'in drinking buddy.

i think clinton killed it for us, though. he was so good at combining that "guy next door" vibe with a strong, authoritative personality. bush has one, kerry the other, but neither has found a way to bring both together in a respectful fashion.

Roni / October 1, 2004 10:00 AM

I only caught bits, but I have to agree, I loved it when Bush got all testy and whiny. The hubby commented that Bush will end up winning the debate because he engages the camera. Gah...we're doomed.

Mike / October 1, 2004 10:06 AM

Bush sounded like a broken record and Kerry really got his soundbites down. But that's what I think is really disappointing; the format of these debates is really just boring and there isn't really that much debating going on.
The highlight of the night for me was when Lehrer called them both out on Darfour. Both Kerry and Bush looked like deer in headlights.

Xan / October 1, 2004 10:11 AM

Bush acted like a beady-eyed kid ready for a fist fight, blew his tiny stash at the beginning and then just kept hopping around, parroting the same accusations over and over again.

Kerry nailed him with the whole 'you can be sure and still be wrong' thing. I thought Kerry was steady and clear. Man knows his stuff, is able to articulate it. He's focused.

But I have to say, debates are so controlled now, nothing very interesting ever happens anymore.

I salute Jim Lehrer for being so smooth a moderator.

Michael / October 1, 2004 10:21 AM

Wasn't able to catch it due to class...but am liking everything I'm hearin' so far.

robin.. / October 1, 2004 10:24 AM

first, i can't help but wonder how different the "debates" would be if they were debates and were still run/sponsored by the league of women voters.

secondly, bush's technique is that of a nine-year-old: repetition, diversion, near-pouting. he would insist on being granted a rebuttal concession and then just harp on the same crrrrapola from before, not really rebutting at all.

i was impressed by kerry. dude's had my vote from the second he became the democratic nominee, but in my opinion, he earned my vote last night in the debates, where he sounded polished, mature, intelligent, and measured, rather than reactionary and impatient like bush.

props for the nuclear proliferation talkings, too; when leher asked about the biggest threat, kerry was right there with no hesitation with his answer, and all bush could do was sputter. sputtery jerk that he is.

paul / October 1, 2004 10:47 AM

Most of you are right about the media not pointing out that Bush got beat, but nobody's mentioning the fact that Kerry looked like an idiot too.

What's really sad is that this country couldn't produce anyone better than these two morons. I've heard both these guys say the same sentences before. And neither of them said anything of subsistence, besides the nuclear thing.

I think I'm going to write in Jim Lehrer.

d4ve / October 1, 2004 11:11 AM

i'm with paul.
'cept maybe i'll write in Nader. :p

Pete / October 1, 2004 11:19 AM

Bush repeated the phrase "mixed messages" so many times that once he beautifully fractured it as "mexed missages." I'm still baffled as to how this clown ever got into the White House. Yes, he needed quite a bit of help from Jeb and the Supreme Court, but he still had to get close enough on his own for the outside help to make any difference.

Kerry looked strong and confident, and Bush looked dazed and at a loss for words, even more so than usual. Kerry, hands down.

Ralph Nader / October 1, 2004 11:22 AM

Yes yes yes, by all means vote for me. Show your rebel spirit! Let your freak flag fly!


MC High Life / October 1, 2004 11:37 AM

nuclear proliferation: At the end of their statements, Jimmy said "so both of you are on record saying that nuclear proliferation is the largest threat" but Bush added "in the hands of terrorists" or something like that. So sovereign nations that gain nuclear weapons technology is okay?


Pete / October 1, 2004 11:46 AM

MC High Life: That would explain why Dubya ignored North Korea for so long.

Andrew / October 1, 2004 11:53 AM

High Life, I had the same reaction. I was amazed that Kerry didn't pounce on that.

Charlie Madigan in the Trib has a great behind-the-scenes look at the debates. Definitely worth reading.

Vit / October 1, 2004 3:24 PM

Kerry did better than I thought he would (thank goodness). Bush did worse than I thought he would. Unfortunately, I don't know that it will affect the election that much.

On another note, has anyone seen the list of possible CTA cuts, frightening.

Thurston / October 1, 2004 4:16 PM

Kerry was clearly the winner of the debate, but I'm not so sure it matters. This whole election comes down to what happens with the undecided voters who can tip the scales one way or the other. As unpopular as it is to say, anyone who is undecided at this point is probably either completely ignorant of the world around them, a total idiot, or both. That said, Bush's message of "We kill bad guys. Foreigners bad we good." is much easier for a moron to digest, whereas Kerry's position assumes the listener has some knowledge of current events and the ability to analyze them.

I'd like to add that though the Daily Show was amusing as usual, I thought that the way Stewart denigrated Poland was inappropriate, insinuating that Poland is in some way lesser than other countries. He seized on Poland for comedic effect because the country and its citizens have always been the butt of biggoted jokes. I expect better of the Daily Show than that.

Natalia / October 1, 2004 4:38 PM

I read an article today that nicknamed Bush "pausey mcpause-pants". I liked that.

Kerry was solid, strong and direct. It gave me hope for the Democrats in this race.

Did enyone else notice Bush drank about 3 glasses of water while Kerry took only one sip? Strange.

steve_sleeve / October 1, 2004 5:03 PM

natalia, bush was doing that on purpose so in case he really got stuck on a question, he could call for a "bathroom break."

Lisa / October 1, 2004 6:02 PM

I can't watch Bush for more than 5 minutes at a time, so I can't comment on the debate.

I say this: if Bush wins, it will be because Kerry kind of resembles Frankenstein.

Iola / October 1, 2004 10:51 PM

I can't fault Bush for his rambling, or because he's a reptile from outer space. Many of us deal with these problems on a day to day basis, which is what makes George so damn delightful. If I were up there debating him, I too would regress into incoherent indignation.

However, what I can fault George Bush for is his Freudian slip which revealed his true desire-- to control female sexuality-- "I'd like to keep them on a leash! (in regards to his daughters)" His objectification of women hints at his readiness to dehumanize at least half of humanity, this after he tries to appeal to our spiritual side with a very heartfelt, "I believe all life is sacred." It's times like these that I find myself teetering between laughter and despair.

Lyle from Lisle / October 2, 2004 12:02 AM

It made me angry, Kent. Then tired . . .

steven / October 2, 2004 12:28 AM

kerry definitely won this round. i don't see him losing the others either. what i still don't understand though is how people still say kerry flip flopped on the war. from what i've heard, he agreed with the war, but he disagreed with how it was carried out. but all the bush supporters still are stuck on how they feel kerry changes his mind too much.

bush to me looked like a jerk.

p.s. thank god for poland!

'That Ian' / October 2, 2004 12:47 AM

Nobody cares what you think unless you're registered to vote, so do it.

Listen and watch (in that order).

My commentary:

Oh shit! He forgot Poland!

Standing with American troops. Wait, what?

And don't forget our rapid, um, uh, victory. Uuh, TOMMY FRANKS! Rapid, uh, uh, Saddam loyalists laid down arms, staying to fight but no, wait, fighting now. Hard. What, what? Oh. Wait, work?


Steve / October 2, 2004 1:11 AM

I say this: if Bush wins, it will be because Kerry kind of resembles Frankenstein.

Or Jack K.

Pete / October 2, 2004 9:23 AM

Natalia, are we really that sure it was water?

Alex / October 2, 2004 10:44 AM

Seriously, people are still going to vote for Nader? Didn't you people learn anything in 2000?

bbbben / October 2, 2004 11:27 PM

My concept of the electoral votes per state is tied to junior/high school, when we had to learn those numbers. And to the late-'70s board game LANDSLIDE, which was based on them. (That was a *great* board game!)

Dang, they've changed *so much* since then! Back then, Illinois was 26, Florida a mere 17. The big kahunae were California 45 and New York 41. Since then, the electoral votes have steadily flowed out of the Northeast/Rust Belt. (Ohio was a plum at 25.) Someone smarter can more fully explain the history/trend . . .

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