The debate…

Was interesting. I highly recommend that everyone who didn’t see it watch it on tape – the mannerisms and tones of voice spoke volumes, and the transcripts won’t show that.

One thing I’m curious to see how other people reacted to was the body language. From what I saw, it looked almost embarassing; if I had no idea who these two people were, I would have noticed a difference. Kerry was focused, relaxed, and, well, presidential. He answered questions, he took the offensive and kept it. Bush was highly defensive throughout; physically, he almost looked like he was crouching in the corner. He sounded whiny, to be honest.

From reading the news services, the phrase that stuck the most seems to have been Kerry’s description of the war in Iraq as “a colossal error in judgement.” I’m a bit surprised that another line wasn’t noticed more – Kerry said, at some point in the past, that this was “the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time,” and Bush quoted it. Repeatedly. Throughout the debate.

Anyway, I’m quite curious to know what other people thought – especially people who aren’t quite as partisan as I am, or at least partisans of the other side. What things stuck out in your mind? What were the moments that your favored candidate looked the strongest, and the weakest? Did you get anything from this?

And a reminder again – if you haven’t seen this debate, find a recorded copy and go watch it. It was very informative about both the platforms and the people.

Published in: on September 30, 2004 at 20:11  Comments (4)  


  1. I caught Bush repeating that “wrong war, wrong place, wrong time” line. Thought it was a terrible move- he was reinforcing Kerry’s message, not his own. I also caught him saying “it’s hard work” way too often. He sounded like he was complaining about it.
    I agree with your assessment of body image and visual appearance, and agree even more with wanting to hear what someone less political than me thought.
    So sent me your way. Can I be your friend?

  2. Definitely. And sorry I haven’t responded to your response to one of my earlier posts – work got in the way of politics for a while.

  3. That was a very insightful commentary. I’ve never watched a presidential debate before, and, in fact, I’ve never really watched Kerry speak before, but the body language is was stuck me most, in exactly the same manner that you described.
    What I thought about most though, was the actual social relationships of the people involved. There was a point in which a Bush asked Kerry for permission for a response, and they shared a laugh for a second. This got me to wondering “Do they really detest each other as much as they have to put on a show of?” Of course not. They’re just doing their jobs. As much as we expect our prospective leaders to be passionate supporters of their policy, in truth they’re just doing their jobs.

  4. rah
    I have been too excited to write anything coherent, but you described it very well. And, looking at the journalistic commentary, many others observed similarly. You can also see how strongly Kerry performed in the sorts of rebuttals made by the Republican spokespeople; they are not happy, and it is visible.
    I have heard that Bush is considered a strong debater unless he gets angry; I think we got to see the results of that tonight. And as a debater, I have a great respect for the amount of information and explanation Kerry was able to bring with him (no notes were allowed in). I wrote more about my debater observations here.
    Overall, I am hugely impressed with Kerry, who proved as knowledgeable as Al Gore, but did not make the same errors he did four years ago.
    I got to experience the joy of watching it with the U. Washington Young Democrats on campus, and a second time with my family on tape. I am glad that the networks (NBC and CNN) used cutaway shots (contrary to the agreement signed by the candidates and not the networks to not use cutaways . . . I wonder which side prompted that issue) so we could watch the candidates’ body language and facial expressions, which almost tell more than their actual words.

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