Friday, October 3, 2008

Just like I thought

I've had a crazy-making fortnight with a lot of stuff going on both at work and home, so I haven't been posting as much. I wish I had written the post that was swirling around my head over the last week, so that this morning I could look like a wise and prescient cyberpundit. I knew that Sarah Palin would perform better than her Couric and Gibson interviews would suggest. I knew Joe Biden was unlikely to make one of his trademark gaffes. I guessed that Palin would appeal to those who like bright, shiny and pretty--packaged lines and zingers and "personal connection," not wonkiness. I thought that Biden might look a little old and dusty next to the Republican's "breath of fresh air" candidate, but I knew that once he demonstrated his vast knowlege of foreign policy and the economy, most viewers would remember that new ain't better if there is no "there" there. So, last night's debate turned out just like I thought. The veep candidates' performances likely cemented opinions on both side. Joe Biden won, but the game remains unchanged.

About Sarah

Sorry, Joe, but no one was tuning in to see you last night. We've seen you debate like a gazillion times. Last night's vice presidential debate was all about Sarah. Would her performance confirm fears about readiness stoked by refusals to talk to the press, and horrific stumbles during a handful of media outings? If you were really watching last night, you would say "yes." But it seems even though conventional wisdom says Biden won, it also says Palin performed well.

Look, folks were never going to see the debate train wreck they hoped for. You don't get to be a mayor or governor without political acumen and the ability to discuss issues. To believe that what we saw in the Couric and Gibson interviews is all there is to Sarah Palin is to believe that either the people of Alaska or Sarah Palin are nitwits. And that's not the case. The problem with the Republican candidate for vice president, who likely acquits herself on local and state issues perfectly well, is that she is someone with no interest, knowledge or experience with national or international issues and her handlers are trying to stuff her full of talking points and factoids to disguise that fact. Last night, Sarah Palin appeared well media trained, but still unable to discuss the details behind the talking points.

Palin also appeared too cutesy by half. If you watched any of her Alaskan debates online, where she appeared sober and adult, then last night's winking and "gosh darn it, Joe" was revealed for what it was--an attempt to win on moxie and charm, not substance. The superficiality of this act was never more clear than when Joe Biden choked up when referencing the accident that claimed his first wife and one child. It was a wrenching moment that left a lump in my throat. But Palin's response was a chipper canned talking point about the McCain/Palin ticket's maverickiness. Media training shouldn't override natural instincts or voice. In that moment of the debate, talking points obscured Palin's humanity and that's not good.

Whose fault is it?

Sarah Palin's public performances say less about her than they do about John McCain, who at a time of several national crises chose a running mate who has to cram for the role vice president like a college sophomore. It was the most cynical of moves: using a Republican woman (and not one of the many qualified ones) to attract disaffected Democratic women, who McCain reckons won't notice his running mate's beliefs, policies and lack of national and international knowledge, if she is folksy, charming and drives her kids to hockey practice just like them. McCain would put a vice president who is out of her depth a hair's breadth from the presidency to win. Country first? Looks more like "me first."

Just like I thought.


Anonymous said...

Just like I thought indeed. You forgot the magic moment when both candidates agreed whole heartedly on one issue: only men and women should be allowed the exaulted right to marry, and gays and lesbians once again have to put up with their cowardly separate but equal fumbling. Imagine saying "Oh well the drinking water is exactly the same in the white fountain and the black fountain." Imagine that!

Neither one knows jack about economics, the markets or banking.

And the questions were dull and uninspired. Sorry Gwin.

As for Gov. Palin's "aw shucks" attitude, believe it or not, that really is how us midwesterners are who have lived in small towns. I find people who make fun of this just kind of coastal and out of it much of the time. You know, too much flying over most of the country.

Joe Biden was not chocked up for nothing. Praticed politicians and pastors for that matter, do evoke this at will. It is a rhetorical device to summon emotion. So he ainna foolin me, as I say back home. That doesn't mean that he doesn't have genuine sorrow, it's simply that he makes use of it at will.

I wish Warren Buffet were running for VP!

Tami said...


I agree with you on the issue of gay marriage. I hate that every mainstream Democrat weakly refuses to stand up for equal rights in this area.

I also agree that Gwen Ifill did a so-so job as moderator. There were no surprises in her questions.

I disagree that Joe Biden's emotion was less than genuine. And I definitely disagree that we Midwesterners share Palin's affectations. Not saying that no one here does, but I have lived in the Midwest all my life--from Indiana to Iowa to Illinois and back home again; small towns and big cities--and I have not encountered anyone like Palin. In fact, in earlier Alaskan footage, Palin herself doesn't lay it on so thick.

JenX67 said...

have you read he has a pretty funny, though accurate take on palin. the stuff he wrote about her "Doggone" repetition - dead on. So fake. Gives me a tick. And, the winking and "Can I call you Joe?" Totally pandering to the weak American mind - I mean what demographic are they soliciting so hard. Couldn't be smart people. No way.

JenX67 said...

also - regarding the commenter. Biden's son goes to Iraq next week. He nearly lost him once, and now, must face losing him again. Get a life. And, Palin is a rich, sophisticated power broker. Her awshucks did NOT work as a TV journalist. It's put on. OK. I better stop now.


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