Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Kerry's Debate Challenge
Bush has clever, simple frames to issues that Kerry must rebut with equally simple, powerful volleys. He has to be prepared for:

1. On going to war, Bush has a line about having a choice in dealing with Saddam, something like "I could take the word of a madman, or I could take action to defend America, and given that choice I will defend America every time..."

2. On the state of the war, Bush only says "we're making progress." Kerry has to rebut that without looking the pessimist, and bringer of bad news.

3. On the benefit of war in Iraq, Bush wins crowds when he says we're fighting terrorists in Iraq, so we don't have to face them in America.

4. Bush says Kerry is sending the wrong message to insurgents and our troops by being critical of the war effort.

5. Bush says Kerry voted against funding the troops.

6. Bush says getting rid of Saddam was a good thing. Period.

7. Bush says Kerry has multiple positions on Iraq/war on terrorism. This is the killer, because, even though it's hardly true, it's become the story. So that if Kerry tries to sum up his position in a new way, Bush will claim he has taken yet another position. And should he revisit his position later in the debate with even the slightest alteration in wording, Bush will say Kerry has managed to shift positions mid-debate. It doesn't matter that it's not true.

How to respond to all that in a way that will control the post-debate spin? Somehow, Kerry's theme that Bush is in fantasyland and can't tell the people the truth about Iraq has to become the story, over the Kerry-shifts-positions idiocy.

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