Dan Froomkin has an assignment for the blogosphere
Planning on watching tonight’s foreign policy debate? Then listen to Dan Froomkin — the author of the invaluable Whie House Briefing at the Washington Post — who has an assignment for the blogosphere and its readership: [H]ere’s another way to make sure that the substance of Bush and Kerry’s comments are fully and quickly assessed. ...
Planning on watching tonight's foreign policy debate? Then listen to Dan Froomkin -- the author of the invaluable Whie House Briefing at the Washington Post -- who has an assignment for the blogosphere and its readership:
Planning on watching tonight’s foreign policy debate? Then listen to Dan Froomkin — the author of the invaluable Whie House Briefing at the Washington Post — who has an assignment for the blogosphere and its readership:
[H]ere’s another way to make sure that the substance of Bush and Kerry’s comments are fully and quickly assessed. Some key political bloggers, who have so effectively proven their ability to hold the press accountable, will tonight be posting their own debate fact-checks — and will be asking their readers to find and document substantively incorrect statements by the candidates, as well. I’ve already talked to several bloggers on both sides of the political spectrum and they’re on board. I urge others in the blogging community to join in the experiment. Just make sure you e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I know you’re out there.
I will be able to do this (I hope) — but even if I can’t my readers are heartily encouraged to do so. Dan’s e-mail to me said specifically, “If you accept reader comments, I am asking you to ask your readers to do so as well.” UPDATE: Just got back to the hotel — I’ll be liveblogging the debate. 9:05 PM: Kerry looks exhausted to me. 9:08 PM: Bush: “The A.Q. Khan network has been brought to justice” WHAT????? 9:14 PM: Was it just me, or did Kerry just assert that Osama bin Laden was definitely in Afghanistan? 9:18 PM: Bill Clinton’s gift was to be able to marry a set of stylized facts to a political narrative. When Kerry tries to do this, he just gets bogged down — the narrative disappears. 9:29 PM: Rick Brookhiser over at NRO says that on radio, “Kerry seems marginally better than Bush.” That’s interesting, because on television, I’d say Bush seems more forceful than Kerry to date. 9:29 PM: “I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?” That’s a good line. 9:35 PM: Bush: “We won’t achieve out objectives is we give mixed signals.” That’s Bush’s theme for the night. 9:40 PM: Kathryn Jean Lopez is right about Kerry’s optics problem. 9:56 PM: The second time Kerry uses the “outsourcing to Afghan warlords” line. Both of these guys are repeating themselves a hell of a lot. UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg makes a good point here. 10:00 PM: Kerry’s rejoinder about the number of states further ahead in the WMD program is good, but a factual question — are there really thirty states with active WMD programs? UPDATE: Here’s the precise quote: “Thirty-five to forty countries in the world had a greater capability of making weapons at the moment the president invaded than Saddam Hussein.” That sounds way off to me, but I’ll need to fact-check. 10:03 PM: Bush keeps pronouncing “mullahs” as “mooolahs” — that can’t be correct, can it? UPDATE: Apparently it is — points for Bush. 10:07 PM: I think Bush was wrong in saying that North Korea breached the 1994 accord with regard to the highly enriched uranium and not plutonium. Technically, the 1994 framework never mentioned the highly enriched uranium — though it is safe to say the DPRK violated the “spirit” of the text. 10:13 PM: I really like the exchange about certainty. It nicely sets up the contrasts between the two. UPDATE: Let’s reprint this in full:
BUSH: [T]hat’s my biggest concern about my opponent. I admire his service. But I just know how this world works, and that in the councils of government, there must be certainty from the U.S. president. Of course, we change tactics when need to, but we never change our beliefs, the strategic beliefs that are necessary to protect this country in the world…. KERRY: But this issue of certainty. It’s one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong. It’s another to be certain and be right, or to be certain and be moving in the right direction, or be certain about a principle and then learn new facts and take those new facts and put them to use in order to change and get your policy right. What I worry about with the president is that he’s not acknowledging what’s on the ground, he’s not acknowledging the realities of North Korea, he’s not acknowledging the truth of the science of stem-cell research or of global warming and other issues. And certainty sometimes can get you in trouble…. BUSH: I fully agree that one should shift tactics, and we will, in Iraq. Our commanders have got all the flexibility to do what is necessary to succeed. But what I won’t do is change my core values because of politics or because of pressure. And it is one of the things I’ve learned in the White House, is that there’s enormous pressure on the president, and he cannot wilt under that pressure. Otherwise, the world won’t be better off.
10:14 PM: Kerry, “I’ve never wavered in my life.” ?????!!!!!!! 10:16 PM: Maybe it’s my imagination, but this debate improved dramatically once the questions moved away from Iraq. 10:21 PM: Dammit, the Yankees clinched the AL East. 10:23 PM: On the response to Russia, it strikes me that Bush talks like a neoconservative when it comes to the Middle East, but a pragmatic realist when he talks about the rest of the world. UPDATE: Hey, Kerry picked up on this! 10:30 PM: The debate wraps up. Optics-wise, it doesn’t look good for Kerry to just have Theresa up there while Bush has his daughters up there as well. After an awful start, I thought Kerry and Bush got stronger as the evening wore on. But Kerry got much stronger — his criticisms of Bush got sharper over time. Bush stuck to the message, stuck to his message, and stuck to his message. I’ll be curious to see how the ratings look — whether people stuck with the debate for the entire evening. If they tuned in early but then tuned out, Kerry is in trouble. If people came in halfway through, Kerry gets a boost. The other key is which clips the media uses in their recaps. Here’s a link to the Washington Post‘s transcript of the debate. I was glad to see that issues beyond Iraq came up for discussion. Indeed, the discussion about certainty boiled down to core philosophical disagreements on the process and preferences of foreign policy between the two candidates — a rarity in this age. This Jonah Goldberg post sounds on target:
The Bush campaign miscalculated on having the first night be foreign policy night. That doesn’t mean everything’s gone great for Kerry, but it wasn’t the overwhelming advantage for Bush that the strategists — and I — thought it would be.
Plus, Jeff Greenfield admits he reads conservative blogs!! I’ve decided to liveblog the post-debate spin — for what it’s worth. Everyone should remember that immediately after the first Gore-Bush debate, the pundits thought Gore had cleaned Bush’s clock. CNN: Poor Mike McCurry — technical difficulties are ruining his spin efforts. UPDATE: Dear God, not Larry King!!!!!!! ACK, IT’S ANN RICHARDS!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!! ABC: They have an instant poll showing Kerry winning 45% to 36%, with 17% calling it a draw. Kevin Drum: Thinks it looked bad when Bush was smirking. Actually, I didn’t see much smirking — I thought Bush looked pissed off. I don’t know if that’s going to hurt him or not. Andrew Sullivan: Starts off with snark — but it’s interesting that Abu Ghraib did not come up once during the debate. Larry King just said CNN has a poll with Kerry winning the debate 53% to 37%. As David Gergen points out, given Gallup’s prior polling showing stronger support for Bush than Kerry, it’s an interesting signal (UPDATE: Bill Schneider confirms Gergen’s assumption — the pre-debate polling sample was 52 to 44 in favor of
Kerry Bush). FINAL UPDATE: I’m going to sleep. Comment away!!
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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