Friday, October 03, 2008

Biden v Palin: It was Nucular!

So she didn't spontaneously self-combust. So, as everybody says with surprised admiration, as if it was an achievement of the highest order, "she held her own". Truth is, the bar was set so incredibly low, the expectations were so dismal, that a monkey could have passed the test with flying colors. It is deeply frightening that we are considering someone for the vicepresidency of this country and we are relieved by this performance. To me, there was nothing in her performance that did not confirm that she is still way out of her depth. It was a decent performance by high school debating standards, not by the standards of seeking the second highest office in the land.
In my estimation, Biden started rather cold and stiff and gained heat, clarity and momentum as the night wore on; she, on the contrary, started out pretty well and towards the end she sounded increasingly fake, shrill, desperate, incoherent and inarticulate. It's as if all the info she crammed in started to get all jumbled in her brain there (as she would put it). She reminded me a little of Hal the computer in 2001.
I give it to her, she applied herself and did her homework and memorized a bunch of facts and still had time to overuse to death that "aw, shucks" shtick that may work wonders in Alaska but is totally inappropriate for a Vice-head of state. At the sound of each grating, smug, small town inflected bullshit I was ready to put my fist through the TV set. Remember Bill Clinton? He knew how to wield that stuff. A smart man, he used down home speech naturally and smartly. With her, it's totally fake. Plus, she makes George Bush, with whom she shares the incapability of pronouncing the word "nuclear", sound like a scholar. This, contrary to what a lot of people think, is not a good thing in a vicepresident.
Do you expect your doctor, the teacher of your children, the architect that built your house, the engineer who builds roads and bridges to somewhere, surgeons, scientists, politicians, to be as dumb and ignorant and incurious as you are? I don't. I expect my leaders to be better prepared, more well read, well traveled and more intelligent than the rest of us. I've had it with this glorification of insularity and ignorance. As if being well educated all of a sudden has become a liability.
But let's talk about Joe Biden, 'cause he was freaking great.
1. He smartly did not stoop down to her level. He is a statesman, and he showed it. He did not have to belabor his experience or his qualifications. A couple of mentions here and there and it was plain for all to see.
2. He debated against John McCain and his party and not against her and her shortcomings. Classy.
3. While she was trying to do the cute bitch shtick with him, he was passionate, articulate, SPECIFIC and extraordinarily dignified.
He was vice-presidential. Hell, he was presidential. She was a hick.
4. He stuck to the strategy and he nailed it. And many of his answers were the real breath of fresh air:
• When asked about supporting equal civil rights for same sex couples, he did not hum and haw, and without hesitation he said: "Absolutely". And he explained why. By the way, I disagree with the Democrats' stance on civil gay marriage -- Biden saying that gays can marry through their faith is ridiculous -- but apparently this country is not evolved yet and these people have an election to win. Meanwhile, this petty, mean-spirited woman seemed a little thrown off by the whole deal. She assured us that she is very tolerant, as if homosexuals are a pest that needs to be tolerated. I found her response deeply offensive.
• At one point, when asked about what she'd do as vicepresident she said something like expanding the powers of the vicepresidency. AS IF!!! Biden really sank her on that one. He read her the riot act. He said that Dick Cheney was the most dangerous vicepresident that America ever had (prompting me to smooch him in the kisser), he explained the actual nature of the office, for her benefit, I'm sure, and said there was no reason to expand the powers of such office. He rocked.
• After Palin repeated her hockey mom cred like a parrot, as if that alone was sufficient to help run a country, Biden took the opportunity to remind her that he had been a single dad, that he had only one house, and that he too came from where everybody else comes from, he too has a son deploying to Iraq, and he reminded the American public (apparently, through the repeated use of the word "Scranton") that he was solidly in the camp of the working class (what the Democrats, afraid that they may be confused with communists, now call the middle class).
She tried to spin the disaster of the last 8 years into a looking back at the past, but I don't think that demagoguery convinces anyone. As Biden said, past is prologue, and the policies of the last 8 disastrous years are just coming back to haunt us NOW. Biden did well to not let people forget that. He also demonstrated impatience with the "maverick" fallacy.
In all, he creamed her. That she did not totally embarrass herself should not detract from the fact that he won this debate by a mile. It wasn't even a contest.

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