10/01/2004: Gem o'the day, bonus edition:
George W. Bush didn’t look at his watch the way his father famously did during a presidential debate, but he might as well have. The president had the air of a man who couldn’t bother being there. Response shots aired by the networks captured his smirking dismay at his rival’s answers, much the way Al Gore sighed in disgust at Bush four years ago.
Republicans thought they had the race wrapped up. All their candidate had to do was repeat his road-tested slogans. But 90 minutes of Bush is a long time. There’s a reason why he has held fewer press conferences than any other modern president. He is incapable of conceptual thinking, and he came across as agitated and annoyed that more was expected of him now that he’s the self-styled “war president.” He repeatedly said he is “working hard” and “it’s hard work,” as though that alone should silence his critics.
A single debate probably won’t determine the outcome of the election, but with two more debates ahead, the Bush team has got to be worried. It’s a tactic of Karl Rove’s to create an aura of inevitability about Bush, and he no doubt convinced the president the debate would be a slam dunk. Bush strode onto the stage with his customary swagger, but it was downhill from there. He had that deer-in-the-headlights look for much of the time, and he repeated stock phrases so often, he became a caricature of himself. This was reality TV, and it was not kind to Bush.
Len on 10.01.04 @ 08:35 PM CST