As I'm sure you've heard by now, last night George W. Bush gave the best speech of his life. It was moderate, yet resolute, demonstrated a commitment to a being strong force internationally, yet held out compassion for those struggling at home, firmly criticized his opponent, yet good-naturedly mocked his own short-comings. In other words, it was full of shit.
The first twenty minutes or so W laid out a domestic agenda of some forty items he would pursue to make life better at home, if he were elected President. It was mighty impressive, with some "compassionate conservative" spins on items right out of the Democratic party platform. My main trouble with it was that it was a great speech for somebody accepting the nomination for the first time. But where have these ideas been the last 3-1/2 years? Why it taken him his entire first term to put together a domestic agenda that can only be accomplished in a second term? Because it's all BS. It's smoke and mirrors designed to appeal to the swing voters who are scared of Bush, but unsure of Kerry.
Then came the meat and potatoes of the speech, and the message of the week; G.W. must be re-elected because 9/11 proved that there are bad guys out there who want to hurt us, and G.W. doesn't care who he has to kill to get at them. Oh, yeah, and he'll protect the rights of the un-born against militant homosexual judges.
I was scared, I tell ya. Not because of what he said, but because of how well he said it. Speaking for over an hour, he barely sweated at all and only had a few minor mispronunciations. If people actually believed 60% of what they heard, he could actually be re-elected.
Then came the Kerry speech in Ohio. Not many stations covered it, and none that I could find had it in its entirety, but those who did see it saw what a real statesman looks and sounds like. It's more than simply pronouncing the words right; it's feeling them too. Yes, he started at the lectern looking at his cards, but then he pulled the microphone out of the stand and wandered around the podium speaking directly to the people, without his notes, and you knew that this was a man who understood what's going in America today, and what to do about it. He wasn't being fed focus group tested catch phrases by his handlers; he was explaining what could be done to get this country back on the right track. I felt much better.
Looking at those two performances, back-to-back like that, I could see how important the debates will be. Yes, Bush has grown as President, and handles himself much better in public speaking situations, but he doesn't hold a candle to Kerry. As long Kerry stays away from the word "lockbox" he should do just fine.