Friday, October 03, 2008

The VP Debate

If you’re an American citizen, and over the age of 25, it’s likely that you’ve heard approximately 5,897,422 words come from the mouth of Senator Joe Biden over the course of your lifetime. In fact, it’s likely that he’s occasionally showed up at your house, stood on your lawn just....talking. So, it’s not surprising that curiosity about last night’s vice presidential debate was driven by the presence of Governor Sarah Palin, from whom we’ve all heard the same 750 words, words which we’re still trying to reconfigure into a coherent pattern.

Out of the gate, Biden was awful. It’s not that he said anything particularly terrible, or that he was condescending. He just entered that paradoxical zone he’s capable of finding where he’s simultaneously too loose and too stiff, combining the worst of off-the-cuff rambling and statistical drivel. He recovered for a strong second half, though I’m not sure that millions of viewers hadn’t fled by that point to some “Everybody Loves Raymond”-saturated basic cable channel, driven away by the dual realization that Biden was Biden and that Palin wasn’t, in fact, going to pass out.

And that’s about as much as you can say about her. She didn’t faint. Well done. The pundits seemed to be highly impressed by this maintenance of vertical balance. It probably wasn’t enough to shift the fundamental dynamic of the race, according to these pundits (approximately 5,000 of whom were arrayed around various tables at CNN), but combined with her consistent intake of oxygen, it will likely shore up the Republican base, which is rabidly pro-standing position. Pro-remaining conscious.

Writing in the New York Times this morning, David Brooks, who was pleased with the governor’s performance:
Was this woman capable of completing an extemporaneous paragraph — a collection of sentences with subjects, verbs, objects and, if possible, an actual meaning? By the end of her opening answers, it was clear she would meet the test.
If all tests were like that, I’d have been voted into the Oval Office sometime shortly after my third birthday. (My first act would have been to bomb Iran.) The GOP: Now with 33% more verbs and objects! Palin is the Dr. Nick of national politics.

This morning, I was greeted by an e-mail from my mother, a churchgoing, relatively conservative woman who wrote:
I thought Gov. Palin, despite her attempt to seem tough and all-American, lacked substance as usual and was embarrassing to anyone with a brain.
What my mother doesn’t seem to understand is that Palin has to overcome the towering, elitist expectations of the elite media, like the New York Times, where elitist eggheads can elitely demand elite accoutrements like subjects and verbs. Well, Elite Media, I come from Regular America. I went to a university far away from the ocean that didn’t have the gall to judge me on “actual meaning.” If I showed up to class looking good, calling people by their first names, and giving shout-outs to those who deserved shout-outs, I did just fine, thank you very much. I may not have answered all of life’s questions the way that life or life’s moderators wanted me to. But goshdarndogit, I think I’ve done pretty well. (Glancing down to index card.) I love Israel, and I like energy, and I think that’s naive and this is dangerous, and I don’t want to surrender, and maverick, and I’ve been at this for five weeks, and ... no more questions, please. I have to catch a plane.

5 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

Last night I missed the debate but watched some of the media commentary. She couldn’t have done that bad. I was expecting a jubilant celebration. Instead, the reporters and commentators were angry. Like a bunch of WASPs upset that someone let the rabble join the country club. I guess they’ll have to seek refuge in the next Jon Stewart show or SNL. That and a nice Bordeaux is all they’ll need to convince themselves that they really are superior to everyone else.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Dan Carlson said...

I just wanted to chime in that I agree, but more importantly: I also like Fritos. A Frito chili pie always makes me think of home.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

She was terrible. I'm a huge John McCain fan, but I can't vote for this ticket with her on it. She is so out of her league. It was so clear that she had about ten talking points memorized, and no matter what questions were asked, she would just go to one of her ten points. She hardly ever really addressed question presented to her.

That Katie Couric interview was an embarassment. I know some of it was "gotcha interviewing", but shit, she ought to at least be able to name a Supreme Court case! My students can do that!!

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Christopher said...

While Palin was talking, the paint in my living room began peeling off the walls. She has that kind of voice.

2:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Palin a "post turtle" -- You know the turtle could not have gotten on top of the fence post by itself and once there can do no earthly good.

10:34 AM  

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