The Morning After

I often say “I’ll sleep on it”. I believe my best work is often done while I sleep. I wake up with answers all the time.

And so I slept on the debate and woke up feeling even better about what John Kerry did last night. I think he rebuffed the notion that he’s weak and can’t be trusted to be President, which has been the message that the Bush Administration has been hammering home.

Bush has managed to turn this election from a referendum on his presidency (in which he was losing) to a referendum on a picture of John Kerry that he was painting (one he was winning). I think Kerry changed a bunch of people’s views of him last night; not the right wingers, they’ll be uncomfortable with Kerry no matter what. But there are a lot of independant voters who’d like to get Bush out of office but won’t elect someone who will put the country in more danger (the central assertion of Bush’s campaign against Kerry). Kerry comforted and surprised a lot of those people last night. That’s what Kerry did for himself.

Bush hurt himself. Josh Micha Marshall has it right when he said that Bush doesn’t like to be criticized. After all he’s right, he’s strong, and just let him do what he knows is best. Bush came across as a deer stuck in the headlights last night. An angry deer because Kerry was criticizing him.

We’ll see how this plays out in the days ahead. Bush still has lots of advantages, but the debate should change the dynamic in the race for those who are trying to make up their mind.