Friday, October 01, 2004

Kerry won tactical battle; Bush the strategic war

Sen. Kerry won tactically: he got his points across and was much smoother than Pres. Bush.

Pres. Bush won strategically: (1) he didn't commit the glaring blunder which could abruptly change the campaign dynamics running in his favor; and (2) Kerry supplied him with the one useful soundbite produced during the evening. The Kerry "global test" [*] can fairly be characterized as a statement of intent to relinquish the US's right to act preemptively and unilaterally to protect its own interests. You'll see it in talking points and perhaps in campaign commercials. Kerry may have to explain himself, and that is never a good thing.

But ... today's column by New York Post political analyst Dick Morris should be posted on every bulletin board in the White House. Morris concludes: "Mr. President, last night you looked like it was the end of the fourth quarter, and you were running out the clock. This is a tough race, and it's going to take your focused energy to win it. Last night you looked like you were just mailing it in."

[*] LEHRER: New question. ... What is your position on the whole concept of preemptive war?

KERRY: The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike. ... No president, though all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America. But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where ... you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons. (Italics added.)