Friday, October 03, 2008

The 2008 VP Debate

Alright, since I'm the best political team on this blog, I might as well weigh in on what happened yesterday. But before I do that, two things. Sarah, being a maverick is kinda like being good in bed. It is something best left for other people to say about you instead of you saying it about yourself. And Joe, thank you for baring your teeth in a frightening fashion only twice during the debate. You certainly have a lot of magnificent teeth and they do need to be bared occasionally but you kept those occasions to a minimum and that was a good thing.

So that being said, Palin was okay. As expected, she was all verbiage and no substance. What was different from her past few interviews was that her words were leaving her mouth in the correct sequence with meaning attached. In this debate, she did not act like she had just woken up after a night of hard partying and forgotten to drink a glass of water for every vodka tonic she had. She talked fast and if you weren't paying close attention to what she was saying, the urgency of her delivery could make you believe she was saying something worthwhile. Sadly, she was not. She dodged a number of questions. Her answers were not specific. Where Joe Biden spoke knowledgeably about the sub prime mortgage crisis, Bosnia, Hamas, Hezbollah, Darfur and Pakistan, Sarah Palin spouted vapid, generic catch phrases like "corruption on Wall street" and "the white flag of surrender" and "love of Israel" and "opposing troop funding". Same old Palin, just that this time, she was at least offering correct talking points in response to the correct question.

Palin's lack of actual knowledge as well as the evidence of her cramming showed through. She looked like she wanted to get through the damn thing ASAP so she could get back to her hotel room and drill for oil. Seldom, after Senator Biden stopped speaking on an issue, did she look like she was eager to offer a repudiation of what he had just said. Most of the times she was content with merely delivering her memorized lines and getting on with it unless, God forbid, the moderator actually asked her to respond, in which case, her response was "...uh...I disagree, but let me bring up this stuff instead that's wholly unrelated to what we are talking about right now." The couple of times she actually did offer a counter-argument, it did not pertain to what was being discussed. When the topic was the mortgage crisis and deregulation, she kept talking about tax increases. When the issue was the bailout package, she kept babbling about energy bills. It was as if she was trying to recognize individual words and phrases from Joe Biden's narrative and quickly rummaging through her Rolodex of talking points to see if they matched anything in there.

On foreign policy, Joe Biden killed her. It was a thing of beauty and pathos. Palin didn't say a single thing we haven't already heard said a million times on television. If a 5 month old baby were allowed to watch CNN an hour everyday for a week, he would have done a better job than did Ms. Palin and would have been cuter. Joe, on the other hand, was informative, confident and detailed. Sarah Palin was reduced to throwing names around, names Americans are afraid of and that haunt them in their dreams. Ahmedinejad, Kim Jong Il, Castro. Ahmedinejad, Kim Jong Il, Castro. In response to the question whether a nuclear Pakistan was worse or a nuclear Iran, Joe Biden took two hundred and sixty three words to reply. Palin's answer? "Both are extremely dangerous, of course." Really Sarah? You think so?

Winner? Joe Biden was commanding, knowledgeable (or what television hacks like to call "professorial") and detailed (or what they like to call dull). Even though he had the serious disadvantage of being a wrinkly old man as opposed to being a pretty young woman, he did sufficiently well in the debate to overcome this drawback. The media will tell you that Sarah Palin succeeded merely by failing to tie her shoelaces together by mistake and falling off the podium. Seriously, is this what Americans have come to accept as success? Is this the vice presidential bar my metal detector just discovered buried deep underneath my foot?

I hope not. But let's see.

Update : More here.

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