The Travails of the Two-Faced
Many pundits are wondering how the Bush camp will rebound from last Thursday's debacle. But the "lessons" that Karl 'n' Karen deduced from the first debate may very well bite them in the rear, which is what happened to Al Gore in 2000. After the first debate, as we all remember, Gore was, well, gored by the SCLM for his "excessive sighing" and "serial exaggerations." The Gore camp bought into the post-debate spin hook, line, and sinker. Remember?
After catching some flak for misstatements during last week's first-of-three presidential debates, Democratic candidate Al Gore said Tuesday he would do his best to "get all the details right" in his second televised encounter with Republican George W. Bush.
In an interview with CNN's Jonathan Karl, the vice president also said he would control his sighing, which drew considerable commentary after the first debate. Gore sighed frequently and loudly, as if exasperated, while the Texas governor spoke during their debate on the Boston campus of the University of Massachusetts.
"Less sighing in this debate," Gore said. The two men will face off again Wednesday evening in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Gore conceded Tuesday that some of his statements in the Boston debate were incorrect, but he described them as mistakes and said they did not detract from the points he was making. "It's important to get all the details right and I'll do my best to do better on that," the vice president said.
Of course, during the second debate, Gore tried so hard to correct his alleged gaffes that he appeared virtually catatonic, and was reticent to go on the offensive. Interestingly, the Bush campaign finds itself in a similar conundrum now that Bush's petulance was on full display in Coral Gables. If Bush adopts the combative, fire 'n' brimstone tone that he showed during yesterday's "major policy address" in Pennsylvania, it will only reinforce the newfound image ("newfound," of course, to the SCLM) of him as a shrill, oversensitive lout. The obvious temptation, therefore, would be for Bush to play up his amiable, "aw shucks" persona that worked so well in 2000. But will this strategy work now that more than 60 million Americans have seen the "real" Bush? By the same token, a folksy, grinnin' Dubya may very well come off as lightweight compared to a thoughtful, authoritative Kerry. Image handling sure is "hard work," right Karl?