Tuesday, September 28, 2004

"The Debate" Part I

About the debate on Thursday, William Buckley writes in a September 28 editorial in National Review Online, "Richard Reeves, who knows politics the way Webster knew words, has predicted that the debate on Thursday will be 'bloody and dirty, demeaning to all concerned.' On the eve of the encounter the odds have stabilized: Bush is ahead, Kerry is alert to this and is groping for riveting means by which to reannounce himself as an alternative to the incumbent....

"...The President has ultimately to rely on perspectives. David Ignatius of the Washington Post, explicitly influenced by the recent publication in France of a report by an anti-Bush jihad expert, wrote, 'The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has been toppled; the fence-sitting, semi-Islamist regime in Saudi Arabia has taken sides more strongly with the West; Islamists in Sudan and Libya are in retreat; and the plight of the Palestinians has never been more dire. And Baghdad, the traditional seat of the Muslim caliphs, is under foreign occupation. . . . Perhaps it takes an outsider — a Frenchman, even — to help Americans see the war on terrorism in perspective. Saturated in terrorism alerts and images of violence from Iraq, Americans may miss the essential fact that the terrorists are losing.'

"To plant such perspectives is very difficult. In the dark winter of 1941-42, any comfortable thoughts about the attenuating strength of Hirohito and Hitler would have been difficult to swallow. And to counter any attempt at perspective, Mr. Kerry is certain to describe dramatically an American life lost that very day.

"Well, John Kerry is a skillful debater. In his column, Richard Reeves writes, 'Kerry was called the "second-best" debater he handled by the distinguished and revered Yale debate coach, Rollin Osterweis. The best, said Osterweis, was William F. Buckley.'."

Should be a real doozie.

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