Thursday, October 14, 2004

TIMBER!!! The Tree Spirit crashes down

Bush was bubbling to the point of ebullience at the start of the debate, hopping slightly up and down as he spoke. This didn’t detract, and conveyed Bush’s warmth and conviction very well, especially when he spoke on the elections in Afghanistan. He also demonstrated his greatest strength over John Kerry, that is, his ability to change the tone of his voice.

Kerry looked like a poorly animated corpse, moving his arms in slow, predictable gestures. The man’s face doesn’t even move as he talks. Jim Geraghty at NRO’s Kerry Spot put it this way: “John Kerry came across as an old, tired, worn out, stretched-out Leftist Tree Spirit belched forth by the fiery pits of Massachusetts liberalism.” I would say Tree Spirit, as in Treebeard from LOTR, is an apt description.

Bush’s natural tone, with actual rises in pitch and volume, and his amiable manner – although he did very nearly scowl a few times – so thoroughly conquered John Kerry, that the substance of the debate is largely irrelevant. And it would be anyway, as it was basically just a he-said-he-said argument of numbers and citations, always disputed by the other.

Bush attempted a few jokes, which although not laugh out loud funny, where admirably spontaneous and gave him that neighborly, approachable air. Kerry flashed his bleached white, triangle smile a few times, but always went back to his monotonous litany of numbers and assertions with little color added in for flair.

To be fair, at the end of the debate, Kerry brought down the house – and by the house, I mean me – with this incredibly hilarious line, delivered -- how else? -- in deadpan-style:

KERRY: Well, I guess the president and you [Bob Schieffer, the moderator] and I are three examples of lucky people who married up.

And some would say maybe me more so than others.

Cause, y'know, his wife is rich and wears the pants and all that. It was a hilariously self-deprecating joke. I initially groaned when I heard this last softball question about the strong women in the president’s lives, but it actually ended the debate on a positive, optimistic note, something missing in our current political atmosphere.

All in all, this goes down as an unmitigated Bush win on style. On substance, I’ll wait until sources more authoritative than I (read: not the New York Times) have vetted the numbers each person used.

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