U.S. Presidential Debate...Do Americans Prefer Checkers or Chess?

U.S. PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE - A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE “The choice between a checker player and a chess master”

Kerry and Bush in the debateSome 50,000,000 Americans viewed the presidential debate between John Kerry and George W. Bush today. Reports indicated that 18% of Americans said that the debates would impact their voting decision. Bush is viewed differently around the world than in the United States and a global perspective is appropriate. We rated the debate in 9 areas and considering the “spin” that comes with every debate, will not declare a “winner”, but rather rate the following areas:

Viewers in Asia were surprised at how combative Bush was, how he seemed to avoid some questions as he reverted to repeating his “talking points” instead of answering questions in depth. Political consultant, Sidney Blumenthal commented: “Bush retreated into ‘fixed talking points’ and a ‘swagger’ attitude instead of dealing with facts and in depth questions. Bush at many times seemed irritated or exasperated during the debate.

Kerry spent too much time responding to Bush “distraction” comments, and continued to take the bait and go on defense, allowing Bush to command part of the debate. Kerry did a mediocre job of bringing up the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” fiasco and didn’t effectively nail Bush on corruption, greed, conflicts of interest or weak points relating to big business such as Halliburton.

A key example of Bush’s effective rhetoric was his statement: “We have climbed the mountain in Iraq and I see the valley below. It is a valley of peace.” This is great rhetoric, almost Biblical…and it carries audiences. Unfortunately it simply ignores the facts of the war in Iraq, and that the “valley” is filled with increasing violence, conflicts, death and continued turmoil. Deaths have increased every one of the past 6 months and it appears that the United States is not able to maintain the peace in Iraq.

We focused on 2 exchanges in the debate that provide insight into both men.

1. Bush said: “We’ve been attacked by the enemy.” Kerry response: “Yes, the enemy was Bin Laden. You attacked the wrong country; it would be like attacking Mexico because of Pearl Harbor.”

In essence, Kerry deconstructed Bush’s foundation logic on the war in Iraq with this exchange.

2. Bush declared: “There must be certainty. Certainty and resolve are the most important factors”

Kerry response: “You can be certain, but you CAN be wrong.” Bush reply: “There must be certainty.”

It seemed that Bush missed the point, or can’t go to the next level of logic. He just repeated his scripted line.

Analysis: Checkers or Chess?

The American people will be voting on whether they want a good checkers player, or a good chess player.

Bush is a man of simple and inflexible convictions. He is insecure in the face of criticism and will never change once he is fixed on an idea. Psychologists say that a person unwilling to change is usually insecure, but the other side of the coin is that they are also very predictable. Bush is a good checkers player. He moves fast and with predictable responses, with little flexibility or possibility of change.

Kerry is a man who enjoys considering alternatives, future moves, implications. He is confident enough to adjust his viewpoints as he gets new facts. He looks deeply and ahead and future implications. He can handle criticism, if it "refines" or improves his strategy. He sees no threat in moving to deeper and different directions, as things evolve. Kerry is a good chess player.

The American people will have to decide which they prefer. Checkers or Chess!