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Steve Likes to Curse
Writing, comics and random thoughts from really a rather vulgar man
Not the bloodbath I was hoping for, but I’ll take it 
Friday, October 3rd, 2008 | 10:39 am [commentary, politics, video]
Joe Biden won the vice presidential debate last night, and anyone claiming otherwise is making excuses for Sarah Palin. Let me get that out of the way up front. Biden won, Palin lost, and it wasn’t even that close. But — and here’s the rub — Biden failed to make the kill. Palin was still standing at the end, and, as I feared they would, her cheerleaders in conservative talk radio are enthusiastically spinning her survival as a great victory.

I’ll say that again, because this is how far the bar has been lowered with the selection of Palin: the apologists for the Republican vice presidential nominee are treating the fact that she did not utterly collapse opposite Joe Biden as a vindicating triumph. Biden raised his standing in my eyes slightly, but the dude’s not exactly John Fucking Kennedy. Not getting blown off the stage by Biden should never be a cause to break out the champagne.


Biden did well. McAsherson and I will talk over the debate a good bit Monday on the next Snark-Gap Transmission, so I don’t want to pre-repeat myself, but here are a few things that bothered me last night about the debate, and this morning about some of the responses:


  • I loved Biden’s attacking McCain’s proposal to tax health benefits as “the ultimate ‘Bridge to Nowhere.’” I wish there had been more of that. God knows he had opportunities. When Palin continually brought up her experience as a mayor and governor in “an energy-producing state,” why didn’t Biden bring up the debt and exorbitantly high taxes she left behind in Wasilla, the team of lobbyists she hired to court the very government graft she now claims she’s eager to do away with, or that the oft-repeated notion of attaining energy independence through increased domestic oil production is a right-wing pipe dream? Biden did a lot to justify his place on the ticket last night; I only wish he had gone for the throat.
  • The phony outrage over Gwen Ifill serving as moderator despite writing a book with “Obama” in the subtitle seems even sillier in retrospect, doesn’t it? Ifill was just as professional and fair as we had every right to expect her to be, and was far more of a non-entity in this debate than was Jim Lehrer in the first Obama vs. McCain bout.
  • Could Palin possibly dial back the folksiness? Just a little fucking bit? Dennis Miller has been effusing for the last month over how Palin is a true-to-life Frank Capra character, as though the mere fact that some people find her reminiscent of Jimmy Stewart’s character in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington qualifies her to hold the second-highest office in the federal government. I reject the comparison, at any rate. I’m no big fan of Mr. Smith, but I can see why people admire and long for a politician like Mr. Smith; he is simple, but not simple-minded, wise and earnest and eloquent. Find for me the wisdom and eloquence in anything Sarah Palin has ever said. Palin doesn’t remind me so much of a Capra character — more like a marionette in the image of Lonesome Rhodes.

  • For the love of God, can we please, please stop comparing this woman to Ronald Reagan? Say what you will about Reagan’s politics, his intellect, his economic policies — the man could give a speech. He spoke with conviction, with gravity and even sometimes with eloquence, or at least something damn close to it, and he was charming. So Palin shares many of Reagan’s moral and political convictions. So does Alan Keyes. Neither one of them are fit to wipe Reagan’s ass — and I’m not even a Reagan guy. This weird insistence from people on the conservative side that Palin is an heir to Reagan only demonstrates their deference to ideology to the exclusion of all reason and common sense. It doesn’t matter who Sarah Palin is or what she’s done, only that she professes the proper creed. That’s why the conservative faction of the Republican party treated their nominee, a for-real fucking war hero and one of the most recognizable and respected political figures in the country, with ambivalence and sometimes outright contempt, but have lined up in virtual lockstep behind the ticket now that Palin — a moron, but a proper right-wing moron — is on board. Embarrassing.

If you missed it, or want to experience the magic all over again, RealClearPolitics has the full transcript right here, and below, courtesy of C-Span’s YouTube channel, is a video of the whole thing:

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008 | 05:24 pm (UTC)
To paraphrase Amy Polar, "The winner of the vice-presidential debate is...whoever you were rooting for."

Granted, the "gosh golly's" were ridiculous, but in the end, she did redeem herself. And that, does deserve some credit. She was a laughing stock after the Couric interview, most people would have thrown in the towel, but she didn't give up, and despite the Beaver Cleaver "gosh darn rights," she managed to impress a few people. I can't even imagine the pressure she must have felt going into that debate. Just walking out on that stage took iron gutts. Sarah Palin is no coward.

She had a very high approval rating in Alaska, you don't get those kind of stats by being a bumbling idiot. The people she has served like her.

So, she's at the very least, not a quitter and not a coward. She's raising a large family which includes a special needs child, in plain view of a vicious media. She's chosen a career with unimaginable demands. She's fighting a loosing battle against a favored ticket. She choked during the few opportunities we were given to get to know her. No one expected her to come out of the debate alive, but she did, and she managed to charm a few people in the process. I don't know too many people that can pull all that off.

What pressure was on Biden to rectify his public gaffes? How much did it really matter to anybody whether Biden addressed his own stupid comments or not? All eyes were on Palin...waiting to see her flop around like a dying fish, waiting for the chance to dismiss her entirely, "Go back where you came from, you stupid little hockey mom, quit embarassing yourself, your way out of your league." She was well aware of what she was up against, she came prepared, ready to defend herself, and came across passionate and energetic. Too folksy? Over the top so. Smart to come across as "everyday"? I've seen worse tactics.

Did she win? Yes, she did. Clearly, Biden had the advantage going in, anything less than Palin bleeding on the stage floor means Biden didn't do his job.

Is it that hard to admit that she might possibly have some worth or qualities as an adversary after all?

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008 | 07:06 pm (UTC)
That depends on how you define worth. If you mean politically, sure, she's energized the base a great deal. I think she's the only thing keeping McCain afloat at this point. She obviously appeals to conservatives so desperate to see their ideology represented on the ticket that they don't care who it is, as long as she's saying the right things.

But this woman is out of her league. I don't mean because she isn't a life-long political veteran, or because she's not a lawyer, or because she's a relative outsider. I would love to see more outsiders to the traditional political scene get serious shots in elections. It's just that I'd prefer they be competent, intellectually curious, thoughtful people, rather than someone like Palin, who came across in the debate like a very formidable local school board candidate rather than someone vying for the second-highest constitutional office in the country.
Tuesday, October 14th, 2008 | 12:54 am (UTC) - Too Bad You are a Liberal
I liked your website until I read this topic.
Tuesday, October 14th, 2008 | 01:28 pm (UTC) - Re: Too Bad You are a Liberal
Have you only been reading the website just recently? Because I've said way more liberal stuff than "Joe Biden won the V.P. debate."

Why, I've even been known to say that gay people ought to have civil rights, and that public school science classes should be required to teach real science, as opposed to creationism. I'll tell you, I'm a nut.
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