“Kerry’s phenomenal performance clearly articulated the difference between the candidates on the Iraq issue.  Further, Bush’s inability to effectively speak casts doubt on the effectiveness of his policies.  Overall, your Political Cow scores this one 10 to 2 in favor of Kerry (out of a total score of 10).

I’ll summarize both candidates with a single sentence.

Bush’s goal is to resolve the situation in Iraq by any means necessary, which may include significant casualties and expense.

Kerry aims to resolve the situation in Iraq with the least human and economic impact to the United States, by building a “true coalition.”

The problem Bush faces now is that Kerry will do even better in the next two debates, and in the days leading up to the election.  For instance, look for him to follow up on Senator Daschle’s remarks from a couple of weeks ago on Meet the Press:

Daschle:  “Tim, if I could just say, if South Dakota were a country, we’d be the seventh largest coalition partner today.  And that explains I think the problem that we have with regard to this international support effort.”

Another point Kerry will make additional gains on is the actual number of trained Iraqi soldiers.  Tim Russert shared some interesting revelations:

MR. RUSSERT:  “Then the deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage, went before Congress and said this.  ‘It’s 100,000 total security forces, and I don’t want anyone to make the mistake that security force equals soldier … or it could be what I refer to as the shake-and-bake three-week police force, which are previous policemen who are now given a three-weeks course.  So it’s a mixed bag, but there are about 100,000 total security forces.’”
Shake-and-bake?  That is exactly what Bush tried to do in this first debate; Shake-and-bake his way right through it.  He was obviously not prepared and was absolutely embarrassed by Kerry.

I guess it also doesn’t help when your own team beings to criticize you.  Expect to see a more polished Bush in the second debate.  For his sake, he will hopefully not repeat the same line 10 different times.  But again, although he may have more than 30 minutes worth of content, will he really be saying anything?

Your Political Cow predicts that President Bush will just deliver the platitudes that comprise the “Republican Talking Points,” during the next debate.  Look for a more aggressive and outspoken Bush.