I think Kerry took it.
I said to a friend yesterday afternoon, “I think Kerry’s going to look nine times smarter than Bush, but everybody will like Bush and his ‘folksy’ shtick better.” But I think homey stepped up to the plate and rocked it.
There was a good 45 minutes in there when Kerry was hammering Bush on Iraq, and the President looked anguished, flustered; I thought, I can’t understand a word Bush is saying! And not just for his verbal flubs per usual; he seemed to be on the run, ideas coming in and out of focus as he struggled to stay on message. I thought: If I can’t piece together what the dude is saying, who can?
When the debate turned to arguments for and against bilateral negotiations with North Korea, both candidates veered a little too far into what seemed esoteric to me. Neither seemed particularly strong. And I thought Bush got his shit together for his closing statement. Also, I was bummed that Kerry didn’t have his kids up onstage, like Bush did. (I think Kerry’s blended family of stepchildren would look a lot more like America to America than Bush’s party-girl daughters shoehorned into their roles as smiling offspring)
Still–those 45 minutes of Kerry being forceful, direct, rocking it on the flip-flop issue, clear, concise, referencing his war service but not grandstanding–a fantastic performance, just the thing. Bush’s late gains were kind of like the losing team that scores a single touchdown when it’s 28 to 0 in the 4th quarter.
I wondered if my bias was making me think crazy. But NBC interviewed a half-dozen undecideds in Ohio, and they all said: “Kerry seemed more on top of it.” “Kerry really did well. “Kerry won.” “Kerry.” “Kerry.” “Kerry.”
I think he’ll take it November 2. I think America is seeing the incompetence of the Bush administration. They may not love Kerry–many of the undecideds mentioned above remained undecided even after declaring Kerry the winner–but when they get into that voting booth, they’re just not going to be able to endorse the Bush agenda.
A psych student friend of mine once told me: “The subconscious doesn’t hear the negative.” Hence, when a parent tells a child, “Don’t drop your plate! Don’t drop your plate!” The child subconsciously recieves a suggestion to drop the plate. I know that when people are telling me, “Don’t blow it!” I’m more likely to blow it when they put it positively–“Succeed!”
So I was VERY glad that W kept repeating, “My opponent says this is the wrong war, in the wrong place, and the wrong time.” Because I think the American subconscious kept hearing: Wrong War. Wrong place. Wrong time.