From that vantage point, I feel Kerry won the debate, but I don't think Bush really made any dramatic missteps (other than his policy choices). There are so many questions I wish had been asked, however. The moderator did touch on a few controversial issues, like abortion and gay rights, where I think Kerry had a big advantage, but what was lacking were many questions about their style of governance. Outside the policy issues, one area where I've had a big problem with the Bush administration is the way it makes decisions in a top-down manner, deciding on what they want to do, and then finding ways to justify that decision. I think Kerry did a good job of indicating that he's more of a fact/analysis driven person and open to ideas from all participants. I'd like to have seen a question asking what steps do you take to come to a decision in an area where you don't have expertise. I think asking them to explain that process would have really been telling. I'd also have liked to have seen a question about the limits of government -- what problems should a government not attempt to solve, and when should the federal government leave problems to state and local bodies? During a campaign, there's a tendency for a candidate to promise to solve everything that's wrong; that may win some support, but I think it would be really useful to understand what the priorities are. Kerry says he has a plan for almost everything, but from my experience with plans, I'd rather hear that he has a good methodology for handling the new challenges that are around the corner.
In other news, I think Gomez won the rock-n-roll debate with an effective presentation of guitar power and vocal harmony, although some of their musical efforts should have been cut off by the moderator for going way over the time limit. I really liked their cover of "Not Fade Away", which I erroneously attributed to Phish instead of Buddy Holly (it's been covered a LOT). Australia's Augie March also did a good job, especially with the keyboard lines, but the on-screen debate distracted me from a closer appreciation. The opening band was loud, and their name is forgotten in the mists of time. The White Rabbit in San Antonio gets the prestigious "not trying very hard" award for event promotion.