...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

September 30, 2004

Keys To The Debate

It is a cliché, but worth repeating: A candidate can't win the election with a debate, but he can lose it. The only exception to that rule i can think of was Ronald Reagan, but he was exceptional in so many ways.

Tonight, watch for Kerry's zinger. i'd be very surprised if he didn't work in a Bentsenesque sound bite, hoping it will become water cooler talk tomorrow. He has to try, he's losing the election and his only chance to turn things around is to be aggressive.

But Kerry, and his team, are also desperate. And desparation breeds disorganization, which breeds failure. Look at Gore in 2000. Remember how he had a different persona for each debate? There was "sighing Al," and "friendly Al," and "macho Al." None of them worked, and he ended up looking silly, like he was trying too hard.

Bush needs to simply stick to his game plan and let Kerry self destruct. i hope Bush doesn't do anything out of character because he doesn't need to. He just needs to hammer the same points he's been hammering on the stump for the last month, and Kerry should start to come apart.

Look at the Superbowl Raiders of two years ago, if you like sports analogies. Or this week's Cowboys - Redskins game. Or any Muhammad Ali fight. When you got your opponent on the run, he tends to fuck up more.

You like war analogies? Patton knew this trick, as did Guderian. And Napoleon was a master of the rout. So was Schwarzkopf in 1991. But these men kicked ass by careful planning and a wise reliance on the incompetence and/or unpreparedness of their opponents.

Tomorrow, if all goes well, try to resist the temptation to boast that Bush won the debate. In presidential debates, it's the loser that matters. If Kerry looks silly, or arrogant, or desperate, or if he tells a whopping lie a la Al Gore, emphasize that aspect to your co-workers during your lunch break.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

Posted by annika, Sep. 30, 2004 |
Rubric: annikapunditry


What about the Raiders i did not get it?

Posted by: Dex on Sep. 30, 2004


You need not cross your fingers, because George W. Bush is nothing, if not consistant. You can count on him to stay the course, and be the same person tomorrow as he was yesterday and today.

Bet the house on this; it is a surer thing than any Monday night football game you can think of.

Posted by: shelly s. on Sep. 30, 2004

You've got a really good analogy about letting your opponent make mistakes, and then compound their mistakes.

Bobby Knight and Bill Parcells coached at West Point during the same time period. They were enthusiastic young coaches, they became close friends, and they spent time discussing coaching philosophy.

The cornerstone of their philosophy is to be fundamentally sound and not beat yourself-- let your opponents beat themselves. Mike Kryzewski coached with Knight, and invited Knight to speak to Duke before and NCAA Final. Knight's message: Don't let adrenaline induce you to make spectacular yet unaccustomed plays. Play within yourself. Do what you know you can do well.

George Bush would be well advised to follow this dictum.

Posted by: gcotharn on Sep. 30, 2004

A teacher in the Barpassers study course has a great piece of advice. He says "Don't go doing anything weird on the bar exam!" To Kerry I would say "Don't go doing anything weird in the debates." That was Al Gore's big mistake.

Posted by: Francine on Sep. 30, 2004

Jeez you people are full of advice. My favorite aphorism is one from old BF "Be cherry about giving advice. A fool won't listen, and a wise man doesn't need it"

Seems to me that we're going to watch a perfect example of it tonight. John Kerry's weakness is the weakness of the rich and stupid, hubris. He doesn't know HOW to take advice. W might be a lot of things, but one of them isn't stupid.

Posted by: Casca on Sep. 30, 2004