Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 9, 2004
POLITICS: Debate About Debates

The "process" issues of a political campaign, in particular the "debate about debates," tends to bore me. But I do have one observation to offer. The Bush camp is floating a trial balloon about maybe only agreeing to two debates instead of three. My suspicion is that Bush is posturing about ducking a third debate so as to (1) signal to the press that he's winning (the underdog always wants more debates, so if the dynamic is Kerry pestering Bush for debates, the media will draw that conclusion) and (2) subtly lower expectations (Kerry can't simultaneously accuse him of being afraid to debate while building him up like Lou Holtz before the Navy game).

Of course, for this to work, the Democrats have to fall into Bush's trap and start complaining about Bush's reluctance to debate and pressuring him to do three debates. Fortunately, some of them, at least, are as knee-jerk predictable as monsters in a video game who fall for the same fake-out every single time. Go see Atrios and Oliver Willis fall right into the trap.

UPDATE: Mark Kleiman marches right into the trap as well. Where's Admiral Ackbar when you need him? These guys are just too easy.

SECOND UPDATE: For now, the Kerry camp sticks to the script:

[M]ake no mistake, George Bush is a skilled debater. In fact, he has never lost a debate in his entire political career.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:15 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

That’s interesting about Kerry’s opinion that Bush won every debate he’s ever been in. Looks to me that, according to the October 16, 2000 issue of The New Republic, he thought quite differently:

“Coincidentally, Kerry is a sort of ambassador as well--although he lacks the steins and the snug red sweater. That's because he, along with pretty much every other ambulatory member of the Democratic Party, has agreed to serve as an official post-debate surrogate for Al Gore, explaining to the media why, in his heartfelt and considered opinion, the vice president was the indisputable winner.”

But I suppose it’s OK to flip-flop on that. Not everyone can access Lexis (or has the five minutes necessary to disprove that kind of thing).

Posted by: The Mad Hibernian at September 10, 2004 5:03 PM
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