Debategate Is Clanging Already

One week until Bush v. Kerry Round One, and the debates debate persists in the blogosphere this morning.

“Dumb, Dumb, Dumb” is how Vodkapundit’s Stephen Green characterizes John Kerry’s recent debate-related quip on “Live with Regis & Kelly.” Regis asked Kerry why it had taken so long for the two campaigns to agree on a debate schedule, to which Kerry replied that Bush had been scrambling around to “get life lines, you know, so he could call somebody” (a reference to the “life line” phone calls contestants make on the show Regis used to host, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”) Given that “Bush has yet to lose a debate,” Green asserts, echoing a favorite line of left-leaning expectations managers everywhere, he wonders if Kerry, by “helping move the bar a notch or two lower” with his silly quip, is “playing to lose.” Green then answers his own question by noting he’d “love to play poker with [Kerry]. Cash only, though, please.”

Kerry’s glass is half full over at Hullabaloo, where Digby “can’t believe there is any question that Kerry will beat Bush in the debates when it’s obvious that your average ten year old would beat him.” The wild card, Digby declares, is “the press corpse which seems to adore [Bush’s] incoherent blather and buy into the idea that making sense is secondary to winning debates than presenting a manufactured regular guy image. So, it’s always possible that in spite of what we all see with our eyes, we will be told that Bush won the debate because Kerry was too tall or something.” (Or too unsightly, or lacking charisma …)

Daily Kos posts readers’ suggestions for debate questions, including this stumper for Bush: “You recently received a formal intelligence assessment provided by your own agencies, indicating that our mission in Iraq was in great danger of failing. You described this as the CIA ‘just guessing’ and indicated that you did not believe what it said. What intelligence sources do you trust when it comes to giving you an accurate assessment of the situation in Iraq?” Seems Kos has about as much faith in the “press corpse” as Digby, as he concludes: “These are all tough questions, so I don’t expect anything like them to be asked at the debates.”

The Washington Post gets one demerit and one plaudit from the blogosphere this morning. Whiskey at Captain’s Quarters knocks the Post for today’s analysis piece by John F. Harris. “Anxious to make the case that George Bush can also be accused of flip-flopping on the issues,” Whiskey opines, “The Washington Post unintentionally provides a contrast between a president who changes his mind and a candidate blowing in the wind.” Whiskey kindly translates a portion of the story as follows: “if only Kerry would just stop talking all together, the Dems might win afterall!”

Kudos for The Post’s Dan Froomkin from Kash at Angry Bear. Coos Kash: “Dan Froomkin comes up with a beauty in his column today: “‘We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace,’ Bush said [during his speech at the U.N.] Some people see irony there. Others don’t.”

And blogosphere newbie (and Vanity Fair contributing editor) James Wolcott this week offers multiple layers of media criticism with a post titled, “CNN ADMITS IT CANNOT PROVE AUTHENTICITY OF WOLF BLITZER.” Wolcott reports: “In a shock announcement that will reverberate through broadcast journalism, CNN has acknowledged that it can no longer vouch for the authenticity of host Wolf Blitzer.” It seems that a “series of forensic tests … determined that [Blitzer’s] beard is a polyfiber synthetic and his lack of affect was attributable to a defective chip insecurely fitted into his fliptop head.” Wolcott “quotes” a CNN spokesman regretting that “Wolf Blitzer is animatronic” and adding that “this in no way undermines the integrity of the journalism he did for the network, or CNN’s commitment to the reelection of George Bush.”

And we thought we’d been tough on CNN

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.