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So much indecision in

So much indecision in the world ...

Last night the Miami Herald and a local TV station put together a panel of eight undecided voters to judge the debate. And as you can see from the lede of the piece in the Herald, one of them wasn't too impressed.

After the debate undecided voter Ted Lyons said Kerry sounded like "an idiot" in his response to several questions.

Then you look down into the article and see that Ted Lyons is a Republican political consultant. (Here he is hanging out with fellow members of the North Dade Republican Club.)

Maybe I've just gotten too cynical and jaded. But was Ted Lyons really undecided?

What the hell was the Herald thinking?

In Samarra the Iraqi

"In Samarra, the Iraqi government has tackled the insurgents who once controlled the city."

Iyad Allawi Address to Congress September 23rd, 2004

"U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major assault Friday to regain control of the insurgent stronghold of Samarra, trading gunfire with rebel fighters as they pushed toward the city center."

Associated Press October 1st, 2004

You really can't believe a word these guys say.

Remember too that Allawi had a representative of the Bush campaign working on his speech.

From a reader The

From a reader: "The 'hard work' is not getting the casualty report. The 'hard work' is being the casualty."

Another point that the

Another point that the Democrats should hit on mercilessly: "He's isolated."

That might well be an apt description of the president himself. But it was actually his description of Osama bin Laden.

Kerry hit again and again on the fact that the president failed to bag bin Laden in late 2001 and early 2002 in large measure because he started drawing off troops for the coming war in Iraq. He also put the final showdown in the mountains of Tora Bora into the hands of Afghan warlords, or rather their fighters, who had no real interest in taken bin Laden down.

To this President Bush's only response was that bin Laden is "isolated." In other words, he's pinned down and doesn't really matter any more.

Is that really how it is? Then why are we so worried about this terrorism thing?

Wasn't the White House telling us just a couple months ago that bin Laden was personally plotting and directing new attacks on America?

This was a feeble excuse for misplaced priorities. And Democrats should hit hard on it.

Late Update: Greg Wythe has the details. As recently as two months ago, one of the President Bush's top counter-terrorism deputies was telling the public that bin Laden was personally directing plans for a new large scale terrorist attack on the US. But the president says he's "isolated". So it doesn't matter that he botched the manhunt.

Did CNN get scammed

Did CNN get scammed by an 'undecided voter' who happens also to be a big muckety-muck in his campus branch of College Republicans? Take a look.

Does someone at CNN have a response they can send in about this?

By the way, I'd be happy to come on as an undecided voter too ...

A there it is.

A there it is. The DNC has up 'Faces of Frustration' -- a compilation of presidential grimaces, moments of pique, agitation, impatience and anger. 'Hey, why do I have to be up? I'm the president! What'd you say about me? I'm the president!'

PS: This is good on quick turnaround. But I think I remember a lot of gestures and grimaces that didn't make it into this video, some of the worst ones I think. Keep this one up. But the vid-wizards at the DNC should have their folks pore over that debate footage for the best stuff and re-edit that tape.

Another angle the Democrats

Another angle the Democrats should hit.<$NoAd$>

In various ways last night the president kept coming back to how being president is hard, how Iraq is hard, hard work, really hard, etc.

I see others have already picked up on this. And, for instance, Atrios quotes this passage ...

In Iraq, no doubt about it, it's tough. It's hard work. It's incredibly hard.

It's-and it's hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is. But it's necessary work.

We're making progress. It is hard work.

If one wanted to be ungenerous one might note that what's really hard is being over in Iraq getting shot at every day. But the president did give the impression of being a little worn out.

I think we all know that the presidency is tremendously hard work, even for a president like this one who keeps notoriously light hours. It's amazing to look back at the way the office ages the men who occupy it. But worn out and complaining isn't exactly presidential or an example of strong leadership. No one's making him be president after all. Maybe it's time to move on. He's punched his ticket. He can move on to the next gig.

Perhaps someone can help

Perhaps someone can help me with this. But I'm pretty sure both campaigns agreed in advance that they wouldn't use clips from the debate as part of TV ads. But I assume that doesn't mean the DNC can't use them on the site or that independent groups can't use on their sites or even, themselves, use them in ads.

As I noted last night, President Bush's reactions during Sen. Kerry's comments looked really bad. I've heard various people say he looked peevish or irritable or tense of sullen or whatever. But what came through to me most though was that he didn't like being up and hearing himself criticized.

Whatever moods or feelings you ascribe to him, Democrats really need to pick up this ball and run with it and have people see those images again and again because they play to an impression of a man who is out of touch, doesn't like being questioned, petulant, unable to take criticism, as short on temper as on facts. Small, angry and in over his head.

Nervous, unpredictable ... (could I go on and on? Yes, and so should the Dems ...)

Now comes the hard

Now comes the hard part: winning the spin.

John Kerry made a good start of it tonight. But it is absolutely critical for his campaign and his supporters, formal and otherwise, to hit the ground running with a plan to use the grist from the debate to shape perceptions in the final weeks of the campaign.

As I said earlier, I think Kerry did himself the most good tonight simply by belying the Bush campaign's portrayal of him as weak-willed flip-flopper.

But that positive impression could quickly dissipate if the follow-up is not effective. Some of this will involve zinging the president for misstatements he made or knocking him for other similar missteps. But what is critical is for them to burrow into the president's performance and sift out the most damaging impressions he conveyed -- ones that voters may have been troubled by while watching the debate but need to have driven home again and again over the coming week.

The key point I think, the key impression, was of a president who was out of touch. Erratic. Without a plan. In a cocoon. Unwilling to admit mistakes. Unwilling to level with himself or voters about what's happening in Iraq. Lost.

These are broad brush of course. But I suspect these impressions are at least some of the ones that are most damaging for the president coming out of tonight.

There was an air of prickliness and entitlement about the president that Kerry's surrogates should play up too. If you notice, one of the president's major attacks on Kerry through the debate was his claim that Kerry's criticism of the president's own war policy made him unfit to be president.

That's extraordinary -- certainly a set of rules that would put Kerry in something of a bind if he followed them, no?

And that's the best he could come up with: say I've made a mistake in Iraq and you're letting down the troops.

Notice the structure of the president's thinking: The point isn't whether he's made mistakes or screwed things up. But saying he has is bad.

Again, denial. Refusal to see what's happening. Lost. Adrift.

Its a rather technical

It's a rather technical matter. And I'm not sure how much attention it will garner since the issue hasn't gotten that much attention in the US press. But one of the notable things in the debate was that President Bush didn't seem to have any really clear idea what his administration's North Korea policy even is.

To a degree that's understandable since the policy has been muddled and divided from the beginning. But even taking a charitable view, taking the present policy on its own terms, President Bush couldn't seem to explain it more clearly than to say that it'd be bad to have bilateral talks with the North Koreans because then the Chinese wouldn't help us or else that it wouldn't be fair to the Chinese.