I watched tonight’s debate, and Kerry’s polished debating skills were matched by Bush’s sincerity and consistency. (Hard to call overall — although I suspect the media will call it for Kerry.)
Both men flubbed a few times, Bush stammered occasionally, and he did look tired. I think he’s under more pressure than Kerry. It was good to see Bush stress Kerry’s inconsistency over time, as this would not have otherwise “shown” in the debate. For the life of me, I still can’t tell exactly what Kerry’s position is on Saddam Hussein, terrorism, and Iraq, now, then, or in the future.
Bush’s worst slip of the tongue was inadvertently calling Osama bin Laden “Saddam Hussein” but then catching himself.
Kerry’s worst slip was when (during the discussion of Russia and the KGB) he stated, “I was at Treblinka Square!” — seemingly unaware of his gaffe. (He meant, of course, Lubyanka Square; Treblinka was a Nazi concentration camp. If Bush had called Lubyanka “Treblinka” we’d be hearing again about how he’s an embarrassment and an ignoramus.)
No puddle on the floor, though.
There isn’t anything I could add that many others haven’t already said or will say, so I won’t bore my readers.
UPDATE: In the blogosphere it really doesn’t matter who catches these things first, but I see that I was not alone in noticing the Treblinka gaffe. Reliapundit asks,

How could a presidential candidate – with Jewish heritage – confuse the name of a DEATH CAMP WITH ANYTHING ELSE!?!?!?!?!?
Instead of showing off his experience and knowledge, this exposes Kerry as a shameless ignorant fraud.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

Kerry should have caught himself making an error of such magnitude, as Bush did when he almost said “Saddam Hussein.” (And Bush wasn’t showing off, either….)
MORE: Has “Treblinka Square” been made to disappear by Google? (Nothing as of 12:07 p.m. on 10/01/04…..)
The “Treblinka Square” flub was reported last night on at least two three blogs, AND I saw it on Drudge this morning, so what’s up with Google?
AND MORE: It turns up on Google News , so I doubt there’s any disappearing going on. Here’s the accurate quote:

And I was probably one of the first senators, along with Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire, a former senator, go down into the KGB underneath Treblinka Square and see reams of files with names in them.

Why is Daily Kos the only blog to appear? (I still don’t understand how Google works…..)
MORE: Kevin at Wizbang‘s post shows that many more blogs have noticed “Treblinka Square.”
MORE: Likely Kerry voter Jeff Jarvis not only wasn’t impressed by Kerry, he says Kerry’s performance made him less inclined to vote for him:

Kerry was pushing his Coke-commercial view of a world marching together hand-in-hand and I don’t buy it. I don’t buy that the U.N. or Old Europe will come into Iraq to save our skins — or to fight for democracy or the rights of the Iraqi people. If you say that Bush mislead us to think we’d find WMDs in Iraq then perhaps you also should say that Kerry misleads us to think we’ll ever find a French butt on the line there. I fear the consequences of giving these countries what amounts to veto power over what we must sometimes do; the result will be paralysis.
In this new era of terrorism and of our role as the sole superpower, I want to see a new vision and strong strategy for foreign policy. The Kumbaya gambit won’t cut it.
I heard Kerry criticize the war over and over without hearing a clear plan for winning it — and a clear will to win it. I also did not hear Bush give a clear plan for winning this war — but at least I still hear his will. It’s not that Kerry flipflops. It’s that I don’t hear iron will. And in a time of war — war against terrorism — we need a leader with iron will.
At the same time, will alone won’t win the war. Great planning and great execution and tireless diligence will win this war. And we don’t have that today, either. That is Bush’s failing.
Many others were able to blog the debate as it occurred. In some ways, I am glad I had to catch the debate in bits and just listen. I listened to what it did to me. And it made me more unsure about Kerry. He sounds more like Howard Dean and I didn’t want to vote for Dean. He had my likely vote; it was his to lose. He hasn’t lost it … yet.

I am a bit too jaded to judge candidates by how they do at debates, because such events are talent shows, and artificial in the sense that they offer a mere pinpoint in time without giving the overall picture of a candidate. What irritated me the most about Kerry was what his accomplished, articulate debating style could not conceal: he still has no real plan for Iraq.
(I’m also reminded of the saying “Big talker, little doer.”)
UPDATE: Roger L. Simon offers a charmingly Freudian analysis of “Treblinka Square,” and also asks whether he and other members of his generation might not have been “running away from some unspeakable horror into a world of sex, drugs and rock and roll.”