So, tonight's the big debate. The future of humanity, the rush to Armageddon.... it all hinges on what happens in 90 minutes on TeeVee tonight.
I've been rather amused with all the talk in the media this week about "lowering expectations" -- the exercise in which each side tries to make the other guy sound like the Great Masterdebater. Both sides want us to believe that the other guy is just so good, they win if their guy is still standing when it's over.
I'm not buying it. Kerry has to knock Bush out of the park tonight. If John Kerry Kerry cannot dazzle us with his brilliance, then Bush is going to baffle us with his bullshit.
Make no mistake, that is George W Bush's stock in trade as a politician: his ability to orate without any regard for even the slightest shred of reality.
I realized this (again) yesterday when NPR aired an extended excerpt of Bush's stump speach . And I had to admit that, Bushes pushed all the right buttons, and he pushes them effectively.
Bush reduces the enemy in Iraq "cold blooded killers" and invokes the image of the beheadings to arouse both the ire the sympathy of his audience. Once the hook is set he yanks on the line with, "these killers know we have a conscience and they don't."
Then he puts the fish on the boat: "The way to prevail...is not to wilt or waver or send mixed signals to the enemy." Big applause. We can grieve but we will not waver." Big cheer.
Then Bush takes a swipe at Kerry: "Incredibly, my opponent said this week that he would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today." The crowd boos. "You cannot lead the war on terror if you wilt when times are tough. You cannot expect the people of Iraq to do the hard work of democracy when you are pessimistic about their abilities... I will continue to lead with clarity and when I mean something, I will mean what I say."
Yes, he will certainly mean what he says. But will what he says have anything to do with the real world?