CAMPAIGN TURNING POINTS….A few days ago the New York Times asked a bunch of bloggers to cast their vote for the most important event of the campaign. The results were published on their op-ed page today, and to my surprise I was the only one who chose the first presidential debate. This struck me as a no-brainer: it was pretty clearly the event that kicked John Kerry out of the doldrums and started his steady rise in the polls. Here’s what everyone else said:

  • Greg Djerejian: Kerry’s poor treatment of Iyad Allawi during his U.S. visit in September.

  • Ana Marie Cox: Bush making the pronunciation of “Lambeau Field” a campaign issue.

  • Mickey Kaus: Bush’s failure to make hay with Kerry’s vote against the 1991 Gulf War.

  • Lorie Byrd: Kerry’s poor performance at the Democratic convention.

  • Joanne Jacobs: The Beslan massacre in September.

  • Ann Althouse: Kerry’s irritable reply in April to a guy who wanted to know his plan for Iraq.

  • Brad DeLong: The failure of last year’s effort by moderate Republicans to persuade Bush to replace Dick Cheney.

  • Kevin Drum: Bush’s poor performance in the first debate.

  • David Adesnik: David Kay’s report to Congress in October 2003 that his team had not uncovered any WMDs.

  • John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson: The 60 Minutes Killian memo fiasco.

  • Glenn Reynolds: The admission in July by Newsweek’s Evan Thomas that the press wants Kerry to win.

  • Tom Burka: Bush’s abandonment of his commitment to a manned mission to Mars.

Three observations. First, every single Kerry supporter thought the key event was one that helped Kerry. Every single Bush supporter chose an event that hurt Kerry.

Second, for the media bias foks out there: of the ten serious answers, four were from Kerry supporters and six were from Bush supporters. (On the other hand, the humor brigade was 100% behind Kerry.)

Third, not one single person highlighted something positive done by either candidate. Of the ten serious answers, five were devoted to something one of the candidates did poorly and five were devoted to some event outside the control of the campaigns. The only replies that even hinted at something positive were mine (I said Kerry “looked calm and presidential during the first debate,” although most of my answer was devoted to Bush’s poor performance) and Joanne Jacobs’ (who obliquely praised Bush by saying Beslan convinced her we needed “a stubborn, single-minded president”).

I guess that’s been the campaign in a nutshell, hasn’t it? Like they say, even if you can’t find a candidate you want to vote for, you can always find one to vote against….

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