I've been trying to get some idea as to how the two fared - the President in his effort to rally the nation to our War on Terror and Tim Kaine to not make a jackass out of himself on his first foray onto the national stage.
It appears, based on what I've read this evening and heard on the radio throughout the day, that GWB provided a relatively good delivery of an above-average speech. To most people watching it seemed to go over well and Bush appeared relaxed and focused.
Kaine's performance, on the other hand, is harder to judge. I read accounts from Kaine sycophants who thought he was superb - but probably thought so before the governor even opened his mouth - and you have those who have never supported him expressing their dismay at how bad his speech actually turned out to be. So which is it?
For a less partial analysis, I turned to Stephen Green, a blogger (see Vodkapundit) I tend to consider fair-minded. He live-blogged both Bush's speech and Kaine's response (see it here).
I think it's rather revealing that Green at first writes favorably about Kaine's delivery:
8:18pm Virginia is a state, just like all the others.Green then seems to indicate that Kaine is settling in to a good speech and warming to his subject-matter:
8:19pm Prompted, I suppose, by Hillary Clinton, Kaine started off by talking about his missionary work as a young man. Smart move.
8:20pm Also, Kaine has that deer-in-the-headlights look. But I don't blame him for being nervous.Within a few minutes, though, the wheels start to come off:
8:21pm So far, Kaine is playing from the Opposition Playbook. Comparing Clinton's surplusses with Bush's deficits, etc. Standard stuff, but he also seems to be relaxing a bit.
8:23pm There's not much to say here, because Kaine isn't actually, you know, responding to what Bush said. If the Democrats want to win, they've got to take Bush and the Republicans head on. Kaine isn't doing that. He's only five minutes into his speech, and he's already presented a longer "laundry list" than Bush did in an hour.And then the occasion is reduced to parody:
8:25pm "We must defeat those who attack and kill innocent people." Kaine is also talking about how some of those killed on 9/11 were killed right in his state.
This should be good stuff, but it isn't. Instead, Kaine is repeating the same old talking points we've heard for two years now. This is an unimpressive debut speech - and it has DNC fingerprints all over it.
8:26pm OK, I have a 2008 Election Drinking Game. Every time between now and then, take a shot every time a Democrat says "there's a better way."Well, at least he tried. And it wouldn't hurt to mention the fact that few people, it appears, either stayed to watch Tim Kaine's rebuttal or felt motivated to comment. In other words, nobody cared. In any case, it was, as many have suggested, an impossible task for a newcomer on the national stage to go up against the President after a State of the Union speech to be sure. The sacrificial-virgin-being-thrown-to-the-lions kinda thing.
Your liver will give out long before the election. Maybe even before Kaine is done talking.
8:28pm I actually feel sorry for this guy. I'm sure that if he'd been taken off the leash, he could have given a credible response.
8:29pm Nice finish after a lackluster effort.
So it's back to raising taxes for ol' Tim. For the foreseeable future, the White House will have to wait.