I’ve been watching the rerun of the debate. And that’s given me a chance to look more closely at the body language and other things I didn’t see on the first go through. What jumps out at me in the second viewing are the times when the camera was on Bush during Kerry’s responses (obviously some networks had more of this than others.)
Bush looked tense or impatient or peeved or even a bit miffed that he even had to be up there on the stage with Kerry. At other times he just looked lost. Obviously, one can read many things into these expressions or grimaces. But whatever they were they didn’t look good.
What occured to me somewhat while I was watching the first time and even more on the second go through was just how long it’s been since President Bush had to face someone who disagrees with him or is criticizing him.
Every president gets tucked away into a cocoon to some degree. But President Bush does notoriously few press conferences or serious interviews. His townhall meetings are screened so that only supporters show up. And, of course, he hasn’t debated anyone since almost exactly four years ago.
Frankly, I think it showed. It irked him to have to stand there and be criticized and not be able to repeat his talking points without contradiction.