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The Great Debate

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Before we begin, LAist would like to eat crow (low carb bread, please, and hold the mayo). Yesterday in this space, the suggestion was made that last night's Presidential debate would be devoid of substance and drama—not unlike an Ashley Judd movie, or Orange County.We were wrong.

Instead, we were treated to the sight of President George Bush confronted with a thoughtful, reasoned critique of his foreign policy, and brother, it wasn't pretty. When he wasn't petulantly complaining about the "hard work" of his Iraq misadventure, Bush settled for smirking and sighing at Senator John Kerry's jabs, as if he was annoyed that anyone would have the cojones to disagree with his decisions. After all, 9/11.

Right?

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As for Kerry, he left his caveats and codicils at home, staying on message and dancing rhetorical circles around the slouching, overmatched Bush. He had a few shaky moments (John, the electorate doesn't give shit one what Charles de Gaulle thought about JFK), but pulled through with a decisive, Presidential-seeming performance.

Not that this thing is over. Kerry still has a propensity for sticking his foot in his overactive mouth, becoming entangled in his love of nuances. And Bush has shown that he will stoop to almost any dirty trick or smear to cling to power.

But last night's debate has, for the first time, crystalized the real differences between the two men. The campaign, in a sense, begins now.