The best debate analysis

Ryan Lizza delivers the goods in a wonderfully lucid and insightful examination of why Kerry won.

The first inkling that the Bushies know their man didn’t do so well comes minutes after the debate ends when Karl Rove walks into the press filing center. Like a game of telephone, the conventional wisdom that Kerry won the debate is already seeping out across the sea of journalists in the room. Into this skeptical ether, Rove tries out a line: “It was one of the president’s better debate performances and one of Kerry’s worst.” Vince Morris of The New York Post stares at Rove and asks, “Can you say that with a straight face?”

It gets better. Point by point, Lizza shows why bush lost so badly (and how it might not have happened if he and James Baker hand’t insisted on rules they thought would trip Kerry up).

They always say you don’t win the debate the night it’s held, but in the days afterwards based on how it’s spun. So far, it looks like it’s going to be a major victory for Kerry, and I’m ashamed that I first thought it was closer to a draw than a big upset. Now we know — bush was demolished.

The Discussion: 4 Comments

I also thought it was a draw. But Kerry gained ground, even if Bush didn’t lose any.

October 2, 2004 @ 1:53 am | Comment

Really, Ellen? I thought Kerry looked poised and prepared, while Bush seemed defensive. And suffering from a bit of stage fright. Style and presentation points to Kerry, but I suppose all the after-analysis will reveal the chattering classes’ conlusions about substance.

October 2, 2004 @ 6:27 pm | Comment

My initial reaction was that it was “a draw” because bush came out alive and there were no big mistakes on either side. But I was watching it while I was cooking and I didn’t look at the screen very much. Also, I had it on PBS so there was no split screen. It was only afterward, when I saw what was going on with bush’s face while Kerry was speaking that i realized just how disastrous it was for bush. Kerry did as well as I expected after seeing him in person a couple months ago. I’ve since watched the whole performance twice more, and there is no doubt just how bad a night it was for the GOP. And wqatching Kerry alongside bush on the split screen drove home like a hammer just which of the two is more poised and “presidential.”

October 2, 2004 @ 6:56 pm | Comment

It was a draw. Got spun in Kerry’s favour, though. Good for him.

October 4, 2004 @ 6:19 am | Comment

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