Bush/Kerry Press Review
Checking the front pages of today’s US papers, it looks rather like last night’s debate – coinciding as it did with yet another appalling attack in Iraq - is hopefully going to work to Kerry’s advantage. There can be few greater indications of the failure of Bush’s foreign policy than dead Iraqi children, and even the most callous American voter must be aware that these kids – “towel-heads” though they may be – were not a terrorist threat, and would not have been killed were it not for the invasion of Iraq.
Newspapers across the states are dominated by coverage of the Kerry/Bush clash over foreign policy which is juxtaposed to images of explosions and injured children in Iraq. Those with headlines mentioning “35 children killed” alongside the debate include (after a quick glance at PressDisplay) The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, The New York Sun, The Seattle Times, The Tampa Tribune, USA Today, The Washington Post and The New York Times. There are, no doubt, others.
American leftish coverage: " for much of the debate, television networks showed a split screen, displaying Mr. Bush often scowling and grimacing as Mr. Kerry challenged his management of the war."
British leftish coverage: “First Blood to Kerry in TV Debate”
French coverage: “The Massachusetts senator employed a moderate tone, but he rigorously criticised the policy of Mr. Bush, who was forced to try and justify himself.” (My poor translation)
American rightish coverage: “By the time the debate was over, it seemed clear that Kerry had given himself a new lease on life and guaranteed that the campaign has a long way to run.”
The British rightish press (The Telegraph, The Sun, The Express and The Daily Mail) seem to have been fairly reticent in their judgement thus far, providing little more than summaries – partially because they don’t much like the idea of giving their copy away free online…
However, by most accounts (amazingly including the rabidly pro-Bush Fox News, on which even the hawkish Morton Kondracke was forced to admit that “Kerry looked like a commander-in-chief”), Kerry won pretty much hands-down, with Bush getting only a very few decent hits in.
Considering that these elections seem to have polarized – largely thanks to the Bush camp's constant efforts to attack Kerry's war record – around the foreign policy debate (despite the fact that the US economy is hardly booming, and is set to worsen with the record oil prices brought about by a combination of Bush’s overseas adventures and the hurricanes of recent weeks), if this debate has been won by Kerry the entire campaign could shift back to his favour. Can the Democrats capitalise on this in time? It remains to be seen…
Bush’s constant accusations of Kerry changing his mind a lot (the endemic “flip-flopping” nonsense) have started to look tired already. With a month to go, the Republicans need to find a new line of attack, as Bush has provided the Democrats with ample footage of him seeming confused, angry and at a loss when faced with Kerry’s new approach of succinct and pointed arguments, to flood the airwaves for the next month.
Will it be enough to turn the tide? Fingers crossed, eh?