ON the day of the most important debate in their political lives, President Bush was in shirt sleeves consoling Florida hurricane victims, patting some on the back, hugging others and shaking hands with the tired relief workers. John Kerry had a manicure.
If ever there was a metaphor for the difference between these two candidates and their respective relationships with the American people, it was this. As The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes put Kerry's problem so succinctly last night, "This is a man who really needs to go bowling."
For all the back and forth between the two men, the debate did nothing to change that reality. Kerry's pontifical performance was light on specifics, heavy on criticism and plagued by the inconsistencies that have characterized his positions on Iraq for more than a year.
While there were few fireworks, I suspect swing voters did come away with a few perceptions. First, Bush knows what he's trying to accomplish. He believes deeply in the rightness of the war in Iraq and its centrality to the larger War on Terror. His message is the same message voters have heard since 9/11 — we will go on the offensive to fight terrorists wherever they are found to keep this nation safe.
On the other hand, voters saw Kerry continue to struggle to define his position on the war — justifying his latest position, which is to call the war a mistake, while promising to bring new allies on board to fight for what he terms a "grand diversion."
I'm convinced that Kerry is the Wrong candidate with the Wrong positions on the Wrong issues and running for the Wrong office! He strikes this Southern gal as a pompous A-- who smugly assumes because of his New England Brahmin background he will be able to convince the few reluctant Euros to join our 60 member coalition against the terrorists. Of course, by implying, nay, stating, that our coalition is inadequate, he has alienated those members already aboard.
He has no clue how arrogant he looks and sounds.
I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.
Give me a break!