Thomas Oliphant in the Boston Globe:
This was...John Kerry's third opportunity to increase his standing with the American people, and he once again took full advantage of it. Challengers who have a chance to talk unfiltered and unchallenged before a mass audience about the future, who can joke about their wealth as well as make a clear and specific commitment to raising the minimum wage by 40 percent, are on the way to being called incumbents.....
When he was asked to talk directly to a worker who had seen his job outsourced, Bush talked about public school reform. When he was asked a direct question about his civil rights record, he covered his dodge-and-duck response with another dissertation on the benefits of public school reform. With other direct ones -- like whether he wants the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights overturned, he simply didn't answer.
To get reelected, Bush's strategy is to bury Kerry in a blizzard of attacks via his speeches and paid television advertising. Two weeks ago it was to bury Kerry with a strong performance in their first debate. Bush failed, opened the door, and Kerry has come storming through it.
As my friend Tina said this morning:
"My answer to anything is 'No Child Left Behind.'"
Bush had a lot of bad moments last night. He told a whopper regarding his lack of concern about Bin Laden -- which is getting lots of exposure today. (I would dearly love to ask Barbara Bush if she EVER disciplined her children when they got caught lying. Evidently there were no consequences for lying in that household. Compare that to my middle-class parents, who would have worn my backside out.)
When asked about the minimum wage, Bush didn't even try to answer the question -- he just went right back to his favorite subject, the underfunded mandate known as "No Child Left Behind."
But the single most devastating moment may have been his clueless comment directed to the unemployed worker who'd seen his job outsourced. Talk about out of touch....this guy makes his famously out-of-the-loop father look like Dr. Phil.
Last night -- as in the previous debates -- the American people saw a forthright, decisive, well-informed, well-qualified leader in action.
His name is John Kerry.