Incredibly Bold Prediction About Tonight's Debate
I don't expect anything in the dynamics to change tonight, especially with the stringent format they're using. What will happen will just reinforce the existing perceptions, and right now those perceptions are not in Kerry's favor.
John Kerry's had a bad couple of weeks. What's hurting him the most, in my view, is that he's starting to become a comic figure. There was the windsurfing ad, then the flag football game, and of course the Oompa Loompa escapade. The pattern has been set, and the important thing is that Kerry's detractors are having fun doing this to him.
So I predict Kerry will do something (possibly something with the lights) that plays into at least one of the above themes which are largely about flip-flopping and phoniness (with a third possibility of sheer unattractiveness). He will be mocked for it by the blogosphere, which will creep into the mass consciousness. With the Swift Boat Vets are still out there attacking him substantively and the blogosphere happily satirizing him, Kerry will be stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place for the rest of this election cycle.
How will the liberal bloggers react to Bush? Easy. They'll howl over the fact that he didn't admit to being wrong, didn't admit to lying, didn't admit to being a war criminal, and didn't apologize for being a conservative. They'll work themselves into a frenzy over the mockery of Kerry while attempts to do the same to Bush fall flat (no new material). They will be unattractive because they will not be having fun.
So not only will Bush win the perception game in the debates tonight, Bush supporters will have more fun over the coming days about the episode.
(Necessary caveat: yes, I could be wrong, especially if something catastrophic happens like a terrorist attack or a Bush meltdown.)