Words matter. Talking about "boots on the ground" distances sitting politicians from the reality of their decisions -- from who is actually wearing those boots. It sounds tough. "I'll put boots on the ground!" presidential candidates often boast, as if this qualifies them to be commander-in-chief.
When reporters covering presidential politics employ words they fully know will disparage female candidates -- or when they purport to discern dishonesty by examining candidates' facial expressions -- they are taking journalistic prerogative too far.
In order to understand the substance of the prepared responses we are likely to hear tonight, you need to keep in mind the true audience the candidates are appealing to, which includes their own base and undecided voters (especially in swing states), as well as the media.
Americans who looked to Barack Obama's speech for inspiration likely got it, if at all, from the same place he says he gets his -- from his litany of remarkable Americans who have continued to soldier on and succeed against long odds.
Today, we know a lot more about mental illness than we did forty years ago. But given the grueling and brutal demands of modern campaigning, we would be extremely unlikely to embrace a presidential candidate who acknowledged taking drugs for a psychiatric condition.