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I'm feeling positive about politics for the first time in months. And it's because of last night's presidential debate, of all things.

I had expected the debate to be a total farce, and to a certain extent it was -- but not as much as I expected. I hadn't planned on watching it, but I came home and Zach had it on, and I got sucked in. Both candidates had their canned talking points, but there seemed to be a bit of substance to them, and they tried to respond to each other and to the moderator.

Kerry missed some chances to defend himself -- I would have liked to hear a response on the thing about criticizing Allawi, and about the International Criminal Court. Hammering the fact that North Korea got nukes under Bush's watch was good, but he failed to really make the case for bilateral rather than multilateral talks, which he especially needed to do because it contrasts with his emphasis on internationalization of Iraq. But Bush flubbed as well. Kerry handed him a golden opportunity with the "global test" line, and I'm sure we'll hear the conservative pundits harping on it, since it plays right into the "Kerry wants the US to be at the mercy of the UN" storyline. Bush repeated the quote, as if he knew it was an opening, but he couldn't figure out where to go with it. He also seemed unable to really respond to the specifics of Kerry's current view on Iraq, because he was so wrapped up in repeating (without the kind of specific examples that could have embarrassed Kerry) the flip-flopper talking point. I also like that the moderator kept saying "OK, let me get this straight. You both have the same position on this issue?"

The media seems to agree with me that Kerry won both on style and substance. If his campaign can capitalize on this, it might start to pull me out of this funk.


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