The Winner of the Debate was…

The American people.

The Presidential debate tonight was one of the best political debates I’ve seen. Yes, there was time to bring in canned speech and talking points, but the moderator was exceptionally good at clarifying points, showing when both candidates were similar and both were different. More than that, I thought it was a class act to see the cordial nature of the two men following the debate, as well as the relatively civil discussion during the debate — and we owe much of this to PBS’ Jim Lehrer.

Not that he didn’t turn the heat up; he did. He directly addressed many of the topics and statements that have been tossed around in the back rooms and along the sidelines the last several months. But by doing so, he forced both men to make their statements directly in front of each other, when the other had a chance to immediately refute, or at times, concur with what was said. No more speculation, no more innuendo — what you saw was what you get.

As for which person won, Kerry or Bush — it really does break down into: which man proposed the course you most want to follow. Gone were the memos and the Swift veterans and all of the other folderol that has plagued this campaign. What we saw tonight was what Kerry would do, what Bush would do, their reactions to the questions, how they were different, and how they were the same.

These are the men in the light now. The election really does revolve on what they will do in the next four years if elected. All of those who have grabbed a bit of the light until now, gleefully following this rumor or that, dipping their toesies in the muck, guess what: Your ten minutes are up.

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