Thursday, October 14, 2004
Now that the three debates belong to history, furnishing boring anecdotes from Michael Beschloss and Doris Kearns Goodwin for years to come, I'm struck by a single defining element that permeated each encounter: Bush's cavalier lack of preparation. Forget the cosmetics for a moment: the menagerie of mannerisms Bush displayed. He simply didn't come loaded with ammo. I assumed that he'd have some killer line at the ready, some surprise dug up from Kerry's record to spring, a practiced bit of eloquence that would lift the debate at a dramatic moment out of the recitation of facts and figures. He not only didn't have the eloquence, he barely had the facts and figures. For some bizarre reason best left to future psychologists, Bush doesn't seem to have approached these debates seriously. He refused to acknowledge he couldn't get by with simply rehashing his stump speech. When I saw on the news that Bush has prepared for this final debate by rehearsing during his spare moments on the campaign trail in Air Force One and the limo drives, I thought: that's now true preparation, that's lazy last-minute cramming...
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