On the Bush-Kerry joint press conferenceAll other political-minded wags are commenting about the Bush-Kerry joint press conference so I'm sure some are wondering why this political-minded wag hasn't.
The answer is simple: I didn't watch it.
I can hardly tolerate the sound of President Bush's voice in the 30 second soundbites that appear in the TV reports. Being forced to hear him for an hour and a half would be unbearable. After just 10 minutes of his press conference with Iraq's Iyad Allawi, I was trying to rip my ears off.
And it didn't include most of the candidates with a mathematical chance of winning. Basically, none of the candidates I'd consider voting for were present so I exercised my choice as a consumer to do something else.
I did stop by PBS for a minute or two every once in a while. Kerry looked fine when I saw him; not inspiring, not incompetent. Bush reminded me why he scares the crap out of me. I wasn't sure if he was desperately trying to prove to everyone ekse that he knew what he was talking about or if he was desperately trying to prove it to himself.
The post-press conference period was filled with the usual spin and instant "analysis." TV news and newspapers seem to think the most important thing is who "won" the debate according to insta-polling, rather than what either said. As soon as the press conference was done, the yapping heads were telling people what to think instead of letting them digest what they heard. (The same journalists who solemnly swear they don't make news, just report it)
It shows how little debates are about issues. The most famous incidents in TV debate history have to do with perceptions and one-liners. Nixon's 5 o'clock shadow. "There you go again." "You're no Jack Kennedy." Bush Sr. looking at his watch. Al Gore's sighs and eye rolling. Bush Jr's little pouty face. Only Ford's infamous gaffe insisting Eastern Europe wasn't under Soviet domination had anything to do with substance.
I hope anyone who subjected themselves to the press conference actually learned something about either or both men. Though I imagine most viewers will say it reinforced their adoration for their particular candidate.