Thursday, September 30

OH NO! I'M GONNA GET DRAFTED!

In about two hours, I'll take my first test of the semester. It's in my Campaigns and Elections class, but I'm kind of worried because I'm not sure I've prepared enough. I might be in for a rude awakening.

I've heard rumors that there's some kind of debate on for tonight. Nothing confirmed yet; I've been watching CBS News and all they've talked about is the President's plan to bring back the draft.

I jest, of course. I don't have long to put together a debate preview (after all, I've got some last-minute studying to do), but there are three things I think we need to watch for tonight:

1. Desperate stunts by Kerry. Kerry wants to strike gold tonight with a "You're no Jack Kennedy" or "There you go again" moment. My political communication professor suggested that Kerry might just violate the debate's ground rules and directly question the President on Iraq. I see it as unlikely, but maybe I'm just jaded by the predictability I've grown up observing in politics. It would certainly make for great theater, and would put Bush in a tough spot where he would have to answer a loaded question or complain to Lehrer about Kerry cheating. I wouldn't completely bank on Lehrer stepping in on his own. Maybe Bush could counter with, "Senator, you're no John McCain."

2. Disingenuous moderation. As Hugh Hewitt notes, we're going to keep a close eye on Jim Lehrer. If he tosses any slanted questions Bush's way, the blogosphere will be all over him.

3. Post-debate debate. This is where debates are framed, won and lost. Conservatives have perhaps their best chance ever to counter liberal spin after the debates. The reason? These debates, as Hewitt notes, are the first to be blogged. Bloggers will, more than anyone else, have the first crack at floating their observations and analysis (even as the debate is in progress). I'm not sure yet what changes the blogosphere will make as to how we declare our winners, but after what we've seen during this election season, should we expect anything less than dramatic?

Check back after tonight's debate for my thoughts.

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