Saturday, October 4, 2008

Scattered Thoughts About Thursday's Debate

“Say it ain't so Joe, there you go again”. Pretty much sums up the entire debate for Palin. A mishmash of overrehearsed and overheated talking points jammed together with little regard for the topic, the question, or common sense. It was like playing Talking Points Bingo and I truly feel sorry for anyone playing a Palin buzz word drinking game because they had the mother of all hang-overs yesterday. Hell, my mother even called me up (I was just surprised she stayed up to watch the debate but that's the inverse of the Palin effect – all that new energy means a lot of eyes carefully watching. And judging.) and the first thing she asked was, “She didn't really answer any of those questions, did she?”

My response was more like Sean Connery in those Celebrity Jeopardy sketches - “Cue cards! She's reading from Cue cards! You wouldn't be so smart without those cue cards, Trebek!”

Bozniaks pretty much sums up Biden's night, too. The correct term but one that flew over the heads of most people in the room and came off as overly wonkish. Seriously, dude threw around so many numbers I thought we were in quality control at a calculator factory. Mentioning figures and reciting stats always makes me vaguely uncomfortable - it's the sort of thing I tune out because, you know, I'm not going to remember it and they all blur together into one big number called "a lot". But I feel I should pay attention because it's important. And I feel I'm probably in the minority for thinking that way.

But, really a win for Biden for two reasons:

One, robo-Palin was unable to deviate from her preprogamming and, so, Biden could work McCain at each and every opportunity. She couldn't rebut, she couldn't deflect, she could just stand by like a house at the side of the road as blow after blow went sailing by. Her own attacks were feeble affairs that went over like a lead balloon. That “white flag of surrender” she waved in Biden's face like a toreador only upset me but the line that drew my most ire was about Biden's teacher wife's reward “being in heaven” - that's right because thanks to conservatives like Sarah Palin, it's sure not down here – such a condescending, nasty line and all the honeyed voices and quirky smiles in the world can't soak away the bitter taste it left in my mouth.

Two, letting Governor Moosalini ramble on was probably the best thing he could have done. I would have liked if the rules allowed for some follow-ups so, like in her interviews, her prepped vacuousness could be exposed, but although she didn't melt down she didn't exactly do anything to convince me or anyone else with serious doubts about her that she was anything other than Dan Quayle in a bra. A creature of style but no substance. The winner of American Ideologue, spending her big break winking and hooting and having a good old time.

Right-wingers and the evangelical hordes are probably feeling better about her (And that's not a small thing since the demoralizing effect of the past week would have damped down turnout and that might have been beneficial to some down ticket races as well as clearing an easy path to the White House for the white hats.), she again threw lots of red meat to the base, but she again didn't do anything to win over the undecideds. And, as always, if this race comes down to base versus base, the Democrats win.

Meanwhile, Biden was looking calm and assured and authoritative and taking every chance to make the case for Obama and against McCain - and that's really what a VP debate is all about. Palin had everything to lose. She had to clear the competence bar or else this election was over. She had to convince people that she wasn't the looming disaster she still seems to be. Biden just had to do his job.

Oh, and he was right. Right on Iraq. Right on diplomatic meetings. Right on health care. Right on the economy. Right about all the issues and on the right side of all their arguments. That usually helps.

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