Everyone seems to be focusing on the style of the debate - the conventional wisdom seems to be that Bush's sighs, winces, and impatient I'm-out-of-it looks did him no good while Kerry earned points by looking presidential.
What struck me most was the glaring difference in substance:
KERRY: ...95 percent of the containers that come into the ports, right here in Florida, are not inspected. Civilians get onto aircraft, and their luggage is X-rayed, but the cargo hold is not X- rayed.And so it went - intelligent, well thought-out points from Kerry, followed by simplistic, meandering "rebuttals" from Bush.
Does that make you feel safer in America?
This president thought it was more important to give the wealthiest people in America a tax cut rather than invest in homeland security. Those aren't my values. I believe in protecting America first.
BUSH: My administration has tripled the amount of money we're spending on homeland security to $30 billion a year...by the way, we've also changed the culture of the FBI to have counterterrorism as its number one priority. We're communicating better. We're going to reform our intelligence services to make sure that we get the best intelligence possible.
KERRY: The president just said the FBI changed its culture. We just read on the front pages of America's papers that there are over a hundred-thousand hours of tapes unlistened to. On one of those tapes may be the enemy being right the next time. And the test is not whether you're spending more money. The test is are you doing everything possible to make America safe. We didn't need that tax cut. America needed to be safe.
BUSH: Of course we're doing everything we can to protect America. I wake up every day thinking about how best to protect America. That's my job. I work with Director Mueller of the FBI. He comes into my office when I'm in Washington every morning talking about how to protect us. There's a lot of really good people working hard to do so. It's hard work. But again I want to tell the American people: We're doing everything we can at home, but you better have a president who chases these terrorists down and brings them to justice before they hurt us again.
By the way, this is what Kerry was talking about.