View Full Version : The Debates

km gresham
09-21-2004, 02:36 PM
Eye on the Ball [Baker got some little-Noticed changes in the debates]
ABC The Note ^ | Sep 21, 2004 | Mark Halperin, Lisa Todorovich, Marc Ambinder, Brooke Brower, David Chalian, Mary Hood, Annie Chiapp


Stuff that matters: the president's U.N. speech; John Kerry on "Regis"; the fallout over the CBS flap; Ohio's gay marriage ballot measure; Kerry's heartbeat on the Iraq issue; shifting resources in battleground states (and former battleground states!!); and health care for every American child.

But the capacity of John Kerry to tighten the presidential race all the way back up depends on his performance in the presidential debates, and thus nothing matters more at this point than the terms of those events.

Although Anne Kornblut's Boston Globe framing of the conclusion of the debate about debates is typical LINK ("Despite tussles over the timing and format, the 90-minute debates will take place more or less as initially proposed; only the subjects of the first and third debates have changed."), in fact, James Baker, by accepting all four debates (3 presidential and 1 veep), seems to have gotten some other key, little-Noticed changes in return.

What the Bush campaign got changed:

1. The first widely watched and covered debate will be on foreign policy and national security, rather than domestic policy.

2. No direct engagement between the candidates is allowed the Commission's proposed plan had actually encouraged such dynamic-changing contact.

3. As "Miss (Nicolle) Devenish" told the Washington Times : "the agreement reached yesterday also will make 'very clear whenever the candidates attempt to filibuster or grandstand. There is a light that will flash for TV audiences when that happens a historic first,' she said. 'Moderators have to sign on and say they agree with the rules, or we'll find new moderators.'"

4. The voters at the town-hall debate won't be undecideds, but, rather "soft" supporters of each side and we have yet to figure out what that means or why Team Bush prefered that but Baker got it.

5. The candidates can't address each other with "proposed pledges" (although rhetorical questions are allowed!!).

6. The town-hallers can't ask follow ups or participate after they ask their one question avoiding any prospect of a "Richmond" moment.

The Commission itself and the moderators have not been heard from, but our guts tell us two things:

A. This deal will stick.

B. If George Walker Bush already owed James Addison Baker big time after Florida, he owes him bigger time now.