Presidential Debate Liveblog #2

Yup, I’m liveblogging tonight — and I really mean it this time. No server issues that I know of, so the field is clear!
And as a special twist, I may also share the wisdom of special friend M, who will be partaking of the debate with me this eve.
This will be my liveblog post, so please link to this if you are so inclined. Stay tuned!
Pre-Game Thoughts
– So is TiVo the liveblogger’s equivalent of performance-enhancing drugs for athletes? It seems somehow…unsporting. I’ve got TiVo too, but I shall endeavor to do true realtime… pausing is for sissies.
– Someday I’ll figure out how to do a competitive liveblogging competition…
And we’re off!
– Kerry’s teeth: My eyes! My eyes! Somebody slap a filter on the camera when he smiles, for crissakes…
– Kerry’s first question: “Are you now, or have you ever been, a flip-flopper?” Kerry obviously had this one thought out. He completely forgot, of course, Iraq, which is kinda, er, important. I think folks might have noticed that.
– Bush’s response: Surprise surprise, Bush hasn’t forgotten Iraq. And he hammers Kerry effectively with the same sledgehammer Cheney used on Tuesday.
– Bush’s first question: a softball posing as a fastball on the decision to go into Iraq. Bush has his talking points ready on this one. And does a solid job of pounding home both the risk, and YES! finally a reference to the Oil For Food scandal.
– Hey, wasn’t that Bush’s smirk on Kerry’s face during Bush’s response!
– Does anybody else get the sense that Kerry really doesn’t want to talk about Iraq tonight? Interesting…
– Bush’s rebuttal is strong. And M confirms my smirk-sighting on Kerry’s face.
– Bush is about to hand Kerry’s hat to him on reaching out to allies with the fact that France and Germany both said no to helping more…
– Argh. Bush forgot to mention that part. But he delivers a great response anyway.
– Overall Bush is coming off much, much better than last week. He needs to slightly calm down a bit, but he’s doing good.
– Bush delivers an excellent answer on making unpopular decisions and sometimes pissing off other nations. Great spot on deciding Arafat isn’t a partner for peace.
– M says that they taught Kerry to address every audience member by name so he seems more human. “He can’t smile, ’cause he’ll look freaky.” I think she might be right!
– Good question on Iran and what Kerry will do if the U.N. approach fails. Kerry ignores the question and again blames Bush for screwing everything up. He repeats his own plan to reduce proliferation, which sounds nice.
– Bush: “That answer almost made me want to scowl.” Heh. Although M does observe that Bush “looks like a little devil.”
– Bush comes back to the Axis of Evil! And it actually works!
– Bush on the draft: “Rumors on the Internets”. Is there another Internet that all the cool kids hang out on and I haven’t been invited?
– I cannot understand why Bush doesn’t call out the fact that the draft bill currently in Congress is sponsored by Democrats.
– Bush slams Kerry on voting to cut the intelligence budget. And makes the central point that defense is a losers game in fighting terrorism.
– Ah, crap. Domestic policy. Time for a bathroom break & a refill on my beer.
– Back with the official beer of tonight’s debate.
– At the end of Kerry’s litany of wonderful things that his health care plan would do, I half expected him to open a wide smile and declare “AND YOUR TEETH WILL GLEAM LIKE MINE, WITH THE LIGHT OF A THOUSAND SUNS!”
– Bush returns to “Senator Gone”, which played so well from Cheney Tuesday.
– Ooooh! A conservative pissed at Bush’s spending. Somewhere, the kids at The Corner and Spoons are all getting overstimulated.
– Yipes. Kerry really shouldn’t make pledges, or anything, right into the camera like that. Reminds me of that famous exchange from Tootsie:
Producer : I’d like to make her look a little more attractive, how far can you pull back?
Cameraman: How do you feel about Cleveland?
– Boy, Kerry’s Red Sox comment didn’t play well in St. Louis. Can’t imagine why.
– Anybody who is basing their vote in this election on environmental policy should be pecked to death by spotted owls, and the coresponding reduction in their carbon dioxide emissions traded to a coal-fired Hummer manufacturing plant in Kazakhstan under the Kyoto treaty.
– Kerry states he respects the feeling of the lady who asks about embryonic stem cell research, and manages to haltingly, awkwardly sound almost lifelike.
– Wow, Kerry is starting to actually melt down, stumbling over words and having some of the same awkward pauses that Bush suffered from last week. It can’t have anything to do with the actual question. I think he’s thinking in the back of his head that tonight isn’t going nearly as well as the last time around…
– Surprisingly, Bush wins the stem cell question. Kerry sounded pandering, Bush manages to simply and clearly explain his decision to allow research on the existing stem cell lines but on no others. I don’t even agree with it, and I thought it was a good answer.
– Whoops! I really don’t think Kerry volunteering that he’s a Catholic while he’s opposing abortion was such a great idea. I am always baffled by people who think that abortion is wrong (i.e., it is murder) but are OK with allowing people to “make their own choice”. If it’s murder, oppose it with all your being. That’s not my opinion, but if it’s yours, how can you possibly countenance abortion being legal? This is an issue where I’ve always understood the fanatics far more than I understand the moderates.
– Bush’s response is naturally simpler. Both sides are playing to their base on this question, but the problem for Kerry is, he’s got that Catholic-who-supports-abortion issue hanging around his neck.
– Kerry coins this week’s “Global Test”, and it’s “Judicial Intervention” on abortion!
– Hasn’t anybody coached Bush on how to admit some minor, amusing mistakes to answer the “what mistakes have you made?” question? You’d think, given the hammering he got on that last year, that he’d have come up with some by now.
– Kerry wastes some of his valuable, last time dragging on his lameass defense of his “I voted for the $87B before I voted against it”. Dumb!
Final Thoughts
Bush connected with the audience with humor (self-deprecating and otherwise), while Kerry utterly failed to do the same. It was Bush’s room: Kerry was just visiting. Combining that with solid answers which hammered Kerry on his weakest points made tonight a clear win for Bush on points, if not an utter knockout.

Others in the game tonight:
Spoons!
Hugh Hewitt
Ann Althouse
Alarming News
The Valkyrie
Metallicty
Editors in Pajamas
The Politburo
The imposters at Protein Wisdom
…and so far that’s it! Let me know if anyone else is joining in…