NY Times: Bush 'Utterly Incoherent'

From Saturday's New York Times editorial :

And the president was utterly incoherent when asked about whom he might name to the Supreme Court in a second term. His comment about how he didn't want to offend any judges because he wanted "them all voting for me" was a joke - but an unfortunate one, given the fact that the president owes his job to a Supreme Court vote.

Mr. Kerry demonstrated, at the very minimum, a stature that was equal to the president's. If Mr. Bush was hoping to recover all the ground he lost last week, he failed in his mission.

The president seemed to fall back frequently on name-calling, denouncing his opponent as a liberal and a tool of the trial lawyers. "The president's just trying to scare," Mr. Kerry said. It will be another few weeks before we see how well that works.

Going back to the first debate, Frank Rich, writing in Sunday's New York Times, sees the first Bush-Kerry debate as rupturing Bush's hold--and he blames James Baker.

But at the very least the first Bush-Kerry debate marked the moment that the savvy Bush-Cheney machine lost its once-invincible grip on the all-important TV game and, just like Nixon before it, did so because of its own blunders, not any sorcery by the opposing J. F. K.

...It was Mr. Baker's job to negotiate the 32-page debate agreement with Vernon Jordan, representing the Kerry camp, and by all accounts, the Bush campaign got almost everything it wanted. Yet as we now know, every Bush stipulation backfired, from the identically sized podiums that made the 5-foot-11 president look as if he needed a booster stool, to the flashing "Time's up!" lights that emphasized Mr. Kerry's uncharacteristic brevity and Mr. Bush's need to run out the clock by repeating stock phrases ad infinitum and ad absurdum.

The most revealing Baker error, though, was to insist that the first debate be about the president's purported strong suit, foreign affairs, instead of domestic policy. Did no one anticipate the likelihood that Iraq might once again explode that day, as it has on so many recent others?

Very insightful piece, I recommend reading the whole thing.

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