...If Bush loses, the debates will be a significant reason why. We had 4 liberal moderators. While moderators tend to have only a small impact on the debate, they do decide which topics are discussed. They frame the issues. Repeatedly, Iraq was framed as a failure by the moderators.If Bush loses it will because he debated Kerry, period. I know that it's unseemly for a sitting president to refuse to participate in the quadrennial test of cramming and makeup. But the debates do nothing but show how well a candidate can perform in the artificial setting of live TV. The debates have nothing to do with governance and everything to do with performance (in the showbiz sense).
Bush should have refused to participate in the debates, on the ground that he has more pressing things to do, such as prosecute a war. His refusal might have cost him a few points in the polls, but that's nothing compared with the damage he has suffered by giving Kerry an opportunity to feign gravitas.