Tonight was clear evidence that enough rehearsal can almost make a silk purse from a pig's ear. By the third debate, one would hope that the President could answer most questions without stuttering or pausing in dead silence. There were still a few moments of silence, but not as long as they were. There were still a few stammers and stutters, but not like before. Bush knew at least some points pertaining to every question.
But I found him unbelievable; well rehearsed but without belief in his own answers. Even those things that he said that he likely really believes sounded as though he didn't. Like the multiple times he tried to link Kerry to Ted Kennedy or called him a "Senator from Massachusetts" (although that was probably rehearsed as "the liberal Senator).
Kerry performed almost exactly as he has throughout these debates; obviously well informed and knowledgeable and somewhat flat. He came through as likeable enough at times, but he's got such a dry sense of humor and is just so intelligent that I think it's difficult for him to come across as overly friendly.
But I do not believe you need to like the President. You need to trust him.
So the debates are over. Kerry, through his performance and easy knowledge closed a large gap in the polls to enter this last debate in a dead tie with G.W. That's an impressive performance by any standard. If he gets a decent lead from this, one even outside the margin of error, there is a very good chance for him to hold that lead into the election. That will bode very well for a country in need of a change.