. Well I guess that settles it.
I've waited to post on the debate, mainly because I've been too busy. However the time I've had to reflect has allowed for enlightenment. The Arab News writes:
"Three post-debate polls suggested Kerry impressed voters more; the majority of those surveyed said the senator gave a better performance, and was more convincing than Bush."
I don't doubt it. Kerry is a competent debater and George Bush is inarticulate and clearly tired as the debate wore on. Add to that the fact that Kerry's campaign has been so filled with blunders that I believe many observers had very low expectations of his style. Add to that the fact that if you're a Bush supporter, you were probably frustrated with Bush's inability to forcefully rebut many of Kerry's claims and ideas. He chose to repeat simple lines of his own policy rather than rebut Kerry on each point. All of this seems to add up to a Kerry win in the debate.
Or does it...
Kerry was more convincing than Bush. He was convincing about wanting to unilaterally disarm the Unites States from protecting itself with nuclear weapons. He was convincing about how in a Kerry administration, foreign policy decision's will have to pass a "global test". He was very convincing about how the war was a mistake but not a mistake that he would ask soldiers to die fork, in fact not a mistake, but an error in Bush's action, but not an error that soldiers should die for, but an error that a Kerry administration will pursue faster, with more success, but... (you get the point).
What stands out on the day after the debate is that the sound bytes clearly favor Bush. It is the repetition of key phrases that will cement in the minds of voters. It seems increasingly clear that the one sound byte that will linger from Kerry was the "Global Test" comment. This is death to his candidacy. The more this quote is repeated (by the Bush campaign) and analyzed (by the pundits), Kerry will slowly savor the bitterness of this error. By saying less, and only what Bush knows is a winner, he managed the clock better; the mental clock of collective memory.
Also the fatigue that Bush clearly underwent as the debate wore on is quickly forgotten. What's repeated again and again is the quote of Bush calling Kerry on trying to lead our allies in the war on terror while constantly changing his mind because of politics in America. Americans seem to agree with Bush on this point. Kerry continued to charge Bush with misleading us into war and diverting the war on terror. These claims haven't been believed by a majority of Americans for two years and the debate will not change that.
At the end of the day, Kerry is still on the wrong side of this war. He is a better debater, but he's defending a side that Americans, in their hearts, know is wrong. "Summit's" will not win the war on terror. Americans know this. Kerry may have "won" the debate, but he lost the war. Americans, a day later, are beginning to know this too.