Roger L. Simon

Reality Check

Supporters of President Bush had better face reality that their candidate did poorly in the debate last week or they will face something worse: defeat. Running around saying of Kerry that he said this, he said that, or even that the Senator cheated, won’t cut it. In fact, it may even be a distraction from winning. Time for a gut check. The truth is simple. Bush did not do well against a deeply mediocre candidate (and man) who isn’t even a particularly good debater, despite what some may say.

Bush exposed his own weaknesses at a crucial time. Despite his vaunted steadfastness, he is not a good finisher. He gets ahead and coasts. Some of this is understandable. It’s a normal human frailty. And with the media aligned against him it would take an incredible person to hold fast at all times. And, yes, they are cheering on Kerry so loudly that you could probably hear the din on the moon.

But this is news? Surely, the President and his people expected that. Did they have a strategy? Going to extend sympathy to hurricane victims on the morning of a debate is laudable on a human level but idiotic on a tactical level. (I remember wondering about it when I saw the news.) And allowing yourself to have a peevish expression when your opponent is talking is a real head scratcher for someone with years of political experience. Looking calm and collected would seem to be Presidential Debating 101.

Oh, well, I come back to town and I rant. If history turns because of this High School Debate (quite literally), academics will have a field day with new theories to invent.