I found the debate to be a little tedious. Not only was it not Lincoln-Douglas
, it wasn't even Kennedy-Nixon
The candidates spoke primarily to their own bases to strengthen and soldify existing support by getting in the treasured zingers against the other guy. Little or no attempt to peel off support from the other side was made. My impression was that between the candidates exists a feeling of mutual disdain but no real heat or personal animosity. Major gaffes, or even minor ones, were avoided as they played it safe.
Bush's level of eloquence is what it is - he is a known quantity and performed slightly better than usual in extemporaneous settings but no where near his best speech to the Congress, given after September 11. Of the president, the voters minds are already made up for good or ill.
John Kerry was not a known quantity to most of the public before last night's debate and he blew his chance for a dramatic introduction though he has two more chances to improve the impression. He comes across on TV as the slightly repellent Dean of Students from your days in High School or the chairman of an Undertaker's Association in a small New England State.
The Democratic Party has decided to run for the presidency a scolding, gloomy, Ichabod Crane of elite liberalism.