Papers of Record: Bush = Phony

First, a surprisingly harsh take from the Times:

In a crucible where voters measure the self-confidence, authority and steadiness of the candidates, Mr. Kerry delivered a consistent set of assertive, collected performances. Mr. Bush appeared in three guises: impatient, even rattled at times during the first debate, angry and aggressive in the second, sunny and optimistic last night.

Some quality snark from Shales at the Post:

An essentially dignified and thoughtful performance by Sen. John Kerry, contrasted with an oddly giggly turn by President Bush, combined to give the last debate of the presidential campaign to the challenger last night, but very narrowly.

Bush seems to have been taken apart and put back together again after each debate, reassembled according to estimates of how he’d done. Last night it looked as though his handlers had told him to smile, smile, smile, especially when Kerry was trying to make points, points, points.

And the Chicago Tribune continues its efforts to find a way to blow the Chimp, but even they can’t escape a compliment or two:

The motivation to vote against someone is often more powerful than the desire to vote for someone, and in that sense, the president faces a perilous finish to the campaign. He will be relying on his legion of lovers and hope that the haters have hit the wall. He is still stoking the energy of Republican partisans, painting Kerry with the familiar “out of the mainstream” brush, while Kerry seems to believe there are still people to be won over in the increasingly small lane in the middle of the road, especially undecided women voters

Twenty days now. We’ve seen our president. We know what can be done. We know where this country can go: forward out of darkness at the hands of a great idealist and statesman. Let’s do this now. Let’s make it happen.