Reflections on the Debate

September 30, 2004 — Leave a comment

Author’s note: Although there is a link from a church website to this blog, the opinions expressed here belong solely to the author. I am making no statement on behalf of the church, but simply reflecting my own thoughts on the political landscape. And after all, this is my personal space, so I can do whatever I want with it! 🙂

There is a lot going through my head after what was a fairly substantive debate between President Bush and Senator Kerry (much more substantive than anyone predicted). Here are a few of my own personal reflections, both serious and light hearted:

  • Did President Bush’s demeanor and appearance tonight remind anyone of Ross Perot?
  • Beyond defining the differences between the two candidates, the debate really framed the differences in world views between folks in this country. In effect, this is not unlike the debates in the church between modernism and postmoderism, with Bush taking the former view and Kerry taking the later. Bush represents a view of the world which simplifies issues and responses. The most important thing is projecting power, being decisive, and thinking that our experience is normative for the rest of the world. Kerry is more nuanced, willing to recognize the gray, and recognizes that we are interrelated with the other countries and cultures of the world. It’s a difference between radical individualistic independence, and mutual communitarianism (not communism — there is a difference.
  • Senator Kerry didn’t conform to the stereotypes that the Republican leadership has been using, which I think threw the President a bit.
  • Both men worked hard to stay with their talking points, but were willing to debate issues a little deeper than normal. This was helpful and refreshing.
  • I dislike the “winner/loser” language. Kerry made a favorable impression and was much more engaging and much less ponderous than expected. Bush played to his base, using religious language quite a bit, and playing the “I’m a decisive leader” card. It’s hard to read how the swing voters will respond (all four of them!).
  • Kerry’s best line was when he sais (in my words, not his) that certainty isn’t a virtue if you are wrong.
  • Bush’s facial expressions only served (for me at least) to reinforce the sterotype of arrogance. I am sure others will read this differently though.
  • I felt that the comments about each other’s families sacrifices in politics were indeed heart felt and provided a good example of civil conversation.
  • In the end, I think Kerry comes out of this with a boost. Most of the instant polls give the debate to Kerry, which I think is probably right. It will be interesting to see how Buch changes his demeanor for the next debate.

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