If oversimplified soundbites and the mannerisms of a cartoon character are the marks of who "wins" a presidential debate, then hands down the ballots are in- George W. Bush won this last debate, smirks and repetitions and all that.
But if the marks of a president include: strong, clear and convincing skills of argumentation; mastery of the issues; an ability to think quickly on his feet; and a non-reckless and stubborn foreign policy; then kudos to Kerry. He did it. He won the presidential debate Thursday night.
Kerry explained quite clearly how the war in Iraq was an enormous diversion from the hunt for Osama bin Laden. In spite of Bush's relentless repetition of "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time", Kerry showed how new information, in a new time, and in the hands of a new president, could help us more quickly win the peace in Iraq.
George W. Bush may be the president of spin. But John Kerry is going to be our president of substance in a time that sorely needs it.