What I learned from tonight's debate:
The only thing that matters is that we must vanquish this guy.
Kerry did his best to make the point that the figure under the hood is not Saddam Hussein. But he didn't challenge the central Bush meme that "protecting America" = "defeating the Enemy."
What I got from Kerry was mostly: "Let me wear the Blue Suit. I can beat up the Terror much more effectively than my opponent."
What if 9/11 didn't change everything? Is anyone willing to risk the scorn of maintaining that wars are still wars (deterrence directed at nation states with armies and civilian populations) and police actions are still police actions (deterrence that includes catching individual psychopaths and groups of psychopathic criminals).
Where is it, again, that we need to look to vanquish the Terror?
(I believe that Kerry realizes the Iraq situation can't be repaired simply by more effective military deployment. He started to say something about winning the respect of the Iraqi population by treating them more decently; but it turned into a statement about winning the trust of our former allies, so that they'll be willing to share our military burden.)
In searching for a good screenshot of The Terror, I rediscovered another villain:
The Angry Red Herring
"... The eyes of his costume house machine guns and his scales are covered with slippery petroleum jelly. He is slimy like a fish and can slip through any bear hug." See here.
It's politically unrealistic, I guess, to hope for focus on stopping the minor villain, when all the polls tell us it's about beating up The Terror.
Looking to wash the taste of the debate out (I know Kerry won -- it could have been much worse), I discovered Steve Earle playing a live concert in the KPFA studio on the Bonnie Simmons show. In a day or so, this show will be downloadable from the KPFA Music Archives.
This burst of reaction to my TV set doesn't rescind my willingness to work for John Kerry to become our 44th President. But, right now, I'd rather listen to Steve sing "Jerusalem."