Watching our Fearless Leader on Sunday, I was fairly certain that the audience reaction would split fairly evenly along the national polarization boundary. The half that still approved of his performance would not be particularly dismayed at his inarticulate, meandering responses; the half that don't would be further convinced of his mediocrity. I was surprised to hear that such a luminary as Peggy Noonan was breaking ranks and pointing out the dearth of the emporer's Sunday apparel.
The president seemed tired, unsure and often bumbling. His answers were repetitive, and when he tried to clarify them he tended to make them worse. He did not seem prepared. He seemed in some way disconnected from the event. When he was thrown the semisoftball question on his National Guard experience--he's been thrown this question for 10 years now--he spoke in a way that seemed detached. "It's politics." Well yes, we know that. Tell us more.
That particular paragraph has already traveled far and wide. What has been largely ignored is the dozen paragraphs of "but, so what" that followed, e.g.:
Mr. Bush is as bright as John Kerry, just as Mr. Reagan was as bright as Walter Mondale, who was very good at talking points. They all are and were intelligent. Yet neither Mr. Bush's interviews and press conferences nor Mr. Reagan's suggested anything about what they were like in the office during a crisis: engaged, and tough. It's something else.
Bottom line, nobody seems to have changed their mind last Sunday.
Nor does anyone seem to understand what the explosion in the debt from the aggregated Dubya Deficits on top of Social Security trust fund IOUs coming due is going to do the budget. As debt servicing starts climbing towards a trillion a year, it won't be pretty here. It may get pretty ugly everywhere else.