The Corner

Re: What Matters

I know, John, that you and I, as McCainiacs,

were writing doubtfully in 2000 about Bush’s abilities to hold his own in

debate. In the end (Deo gratias) his lack of forensic skill didn’t matter in

his debate showdowns with Gore, a fact for which we are profoundly grateful.

Still, don’t forget that Gore lost those debates not because Bush beat him,

but because he didn’t knock Bush out like everybody expected. That, and

becuase Gore’s arrogant manner reinforced the suspicion many people had that

he is a smarty-pants know-it-all. In other words, Gore beat himself — and

still, he managed to win the popular vote.

The thing that gets to me after having read the MTP transcript a second time

is how buried in many of the president’s answers are solid points. I think

Bush has a knockout case for the Iraq war, and his handling of the war on

terror. I also know that quite a few people disagree with me. Bush, of all

people, should be able to make the case powerfully. If he can’t, that

telegraphs to people confusion and a lack of confidence in the case, I

think. This stuff matters. And because I thoroughly agree with you, John,

that the war on terror is the only thing that really matters this fall, I

urgently want the president and his team to master this stuff before the

Democratic attack machine, aided and abetted by the anti-Bush media, get

cranked up. There’s far too much at risk here.

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