WELL: I feel a little bit better having seen some negative-ish reactions from other people Yglesias and Jarvis), so I feel all right pointing out the three big openings JK gave to Bush last night:
1. JK went after more than a few members of the Bush administration before declaring that negative politics was bad and he'd play no part in it. Bush can either: 1. come out and vigorously defend said figures as his friends and fellow public servants or 2. point out the irony of saying you want to stay positive after going negative, or of speaking about how you'll bring people together, provided they are not now Vice President, Sec. of Defense, etc.
2. He proposed lots of new-ish sounding programs, and tax cuts, and somehow thinks this will all work out happily. You can write the script on this one.
3. There was a lot of emphasis in the foreign policy parts on pragmatic details, like strengthening alliances, and an insistance on not submitting f.p. for the approval of others. Three weaknesses:
a. he seemed to do a good job being a little, um, insensitive to current allies (where's the love for Great Britain, I ask you? to say nothing of what Poland, etc, must mean to him), as well as nations we're not currently hostile with (Saudi Arabia). Bush can point out, rightly, that pissing all over your current allies is not much of a way to make things better.
b. he seemed a little vague on specific current non-Iraq hotspots, little countries like North Korea, Syria, Iran, and the Sudan. I'd love to see the Kerry plan for dealing with any one of these, and I imagine Bush would, too.
c. There was a lot of high-flown rhetoric about exporting American values abroad, which will at some point allow Bush to ask whether or not creating a successful democracy in Iraq would be worth the war there. He says no, and that high-flown rhetoric begins to look a little bit more empty. He says yes, and you sort of have a vindication of Bush's policy.