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One Debate Down . . .

The first debate of this presidential race took place last night. Pundits are unanimous that one candidate totally ran away with the victory and left the other in the dust. They just can’t agree on which candidate that was.

I don’t own a T.V., so I listened to the debate via streaming media on my computer. I didn’t get the visual effects–the expressions, etc.–so I had to concentrate on what was said.

Kerry is a better debater than Bush is. That’s really all you can learn from these events. Bush isn’t glib; he doesn’t “think on his feet” well. None of that has anything to do with running the executive branch of the federal government.

There’s a superstition that is nearly universal: debates show who’s correct. I call it a superstition because there’s no evidence for it. A person can be categorically wrong and know he’s wrong and still whip the stuffing out of his opponent if he holds all of the debating talent. Something like that goes on in courtrooms thousands of times a day right here in the land of justice for all. Have you ever been in a courtroom trial? Heh heh, I rest my case. You know I’m right.

Bush will carry Tennessee handily, barring some upheaving catastrophe between now and Nov. 2d. In fact, I expect him to win by a landslide across the country, and I’ve been saying it all year. That means I’m hardly a hero for putting a Peroutka sign in my yard today. Michael Peroutka is the Constitution Party presidential candidate. In not supporting Bush, I’m really taking no risks. If any fellow conservative attacks me, I have an easy dodge: “Hey, Kerry can’t win Tennessee.” Not every Peroutka supporter has it so easy.

9/11 seems to have changed everything. Among my friends, Bush can do no wrong. A “third party” is unthinkable, almost like supporting a different god than the one in the Bible. But there are some serious issues that we need to come to grips with. I’ll name one: abortion. We antiabortion folks get the Republicans’ rhetoric, the kids get the garbage disposal. Eight years of Reagan, four years of Poppa Bush, four years of little Bush, and where are we in the battle, hmm? And there are many other important issues where, despite the image which the Republicans project to us, they can be counted on to split the difference with the left when the radials meet the road.

But most conservatives begin shaking in rage when they see another conservative not supporting Bush. Hopefully better times and deeper thinking will return soon.

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