Department of missed opportunities

Two slide-shows from the second debate, showing a dangerously unbalanced Commander-in-Chief.

Restoring Sanity has a pair of slide-shows consisting of unretouched images of GWB from the second debate, one of the “furious George” moment where he loses it with the moderator and starts raving about Blair and Berlusconi, the other featuring the demened cackling about who’s to blame for rising health care costs. They’re really pretty scary.

If things go badly on November 2 — which right now seems like roughly an even-money proposition to me, though the bettors are more pressimistic than I am — part of the reason will be that the Republicans did well at focusing attention on Kerry’s bad moments, and even at making not-so-bad moments into bad moments (a la M*ry Ch*n*y), while the Democrats failed to get much traction out of Bush’s bad moments.

Bush’s odd display of emotional lability during the second debate and his bald-faced denial in the third debate that he ever said what he said about ObL could each have been the defining moment of the campaign, if the Democrats were better spinners or if the “liberal press” of right-wing mythology actually existed in practice.

To put it simply: the Republicans managed to make “flip-flop” a laugh line that didn’t need to be explained. The Democrats never did the same with “furious George” or “I hope it’s not my fault, heh-heh-heh.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com