Thursday, October 02, 2008

Palin Survives

And that could be a blessing in disguise for the Democrats and a curse on the McCain campaign. Palin didn't crash and burn, but in terms of knowledge and ideas and sincere thoughtfulness, she was canned and hollow. Because Sarah Palin didn't embarrass herself, that's a victory for her; but she obviously had nothing but schooled answers. She rarely answered the questions asked and went back almost too regularly to talking points. She never seemed to have an original thought. But no matter, she didn't melt on stage, and so she lives for another day. And now we get to see her perform (hopefully!) more regularly in front of the American people in more unscripted interviews and press conferences, where she'll have to demonstrate her knowledge chops, which are still really very thin. If McCain shelters her from any press conferences from now until November, the American people will notice and will assume the worst for it.

Biden, for his part, came across as very knowledgable, almost too knowledgable. I think Biden won the debate on the issues, but Sarah Palin held up well on the stage. Palin did much better than I expected. I didn't expect much from her, and she exceeded what I did expect of her. Biden didn't put his foot in his mouth, as I feared he might, and did better than I expected, too. In fact, Biden came across as humble, committed, secure, and thoughtful. When he spoke, it was clear that we were getting Joe Biden and not DNC talking points. And I have to say that Joe Biden connected on a human level in ways that he hasn't done in the past. He showed empathy and emotion and graciousness.

Will this change the course of the election? I don't believe so.


Eric said...

Palin did much better than I thought she would, but I have to admit if I was an undecided voter (which I'm not) who was watching the debate with the goal of figuring out who exuded the most confidence and competence, I'd have to go w/ Biden.

I think Biden will get hammered over the next few days for making some misleading statements (such as his statement about Iraq spending vs Afghan), but mostly they were just misleading and politicky and not outright lies. IMHO, his biggest gaffe of the night was talking about his son and tearing up, but its hard to fault a guy for that (although my wife, who voted for Kerry, was incredibly angered by it).

I think Palin shored up the concerns of conservatives who were thinking about jumping ship after her Couric interview. I'm sure she played well to a lot of red state, but McCAin is going to win in those states anyway. She might have helped put Florida, Ohio, and Virginia back in play for McCAin, but I'm not sure he has the stroke to close the deal. His impotent grandstanding at the beginning of the liquidity meltdown has really hurt him, and I think any Republican who supports the bailout is going to pay a dear price at the polls in November, including McCain.

I have tentatively decided not to vote in the Presidential election, and she didn't change my mind.

Huck said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Eric. A couple of response comments. I thought Biden's choking up a bit about the tragedy that befell him was very moving. I think it was sincere and very understandable. I don't understand why your wife would get angry over this. Perhaps she thought it insincere? Are men not supposed to exhibit emotion? Are they not supposed to reference their own personal tragedy in a way that humanizes them? Many gush over Sarah Palin when she emotes, why the double-standard when applied to Biden? I might suggest that what could anger some about this is that it does tug at the heartstrings, and people can resent that, feeling manipulated. And they can resent people connecting in this visceral way. But I think that's precisely what the McCain pick of Palin was mostly about.

Also, I can respect your principled decision about sitting this one out; but is that in your best interests? I'm personally always of the mind that holding the nose and voting for the lesser of two bad choices is always the right thing to do. I hope you change your mind, even if it means you will vote for McCain/Palin. In a way, I think your vote, because it represents a manifestation of civic engagement, is a part of our conversation and exchange on all these issues; and I'd hate to see you give up this part of the exchange out of a sense of frustration.

Eric said...

"Perhaps she thought it insincere?"

How aobut sincerely manipulative? The question was about his weaknesses, so to show everybody he could be weak and human, he conjured up some strong emotions in order to make himself tear up. I don't think anybody can blame him for tearing up about his perosnal tragedies, but dragging them out onstage during a VP debate in order to elicit the emotion is just kind of icky.

It would be different if he had emphasized how these tragedies had effected his understanding of what single parents go through, or deepened his empathy for the pain his fellow Americans exerience during times of personal tragedy, or used it to make any kind of constructive argument other than, "let me show you, for two seconds, how raw and vulnurable I can be".

And lets be honest here: if Palin had choked up talking about any of her very recent personal struggles, it would be Game Over for her. If there is any double standard here (and there probably isn't, I don't think anybody wants to see any politican crying simply because somebody asked them a question), it works against Palin and not for her.

Eric said...

"I can respect your principled decision about sitting this one out; but is that in your best interests?"

I dont' know. That's what I'm trying to figure out. I have always been a 'pick the lesser of two evils' guy myself, but the national conversation you are talking about has simply moved away from anything I can give my implied consent to, and what is voting in a Republic if it is not a way of giving your impied consent to our national leaders?

Voting for anyone who supports the current economic heist just does not seem to be in my best interests. It's like voting on what color casket to buy for my dreams.

Huck said...

Eric - I don't think Biden was being manipulative at all. It struck me as genuine. As I think it did most people. I believe the offense at this that some might take is because they don't want to have their heartstrings pulled by Biden. It is anger at Biden for pulling people who want to find reason to dislike him into empathy for him as a fellow human being. It's like Palin parading her Down Syndrome son at the Convention and in her speeches. I think every time Palin does this, the reaction from the left is that she's trying to manipulate this personal difficulty to win empathy and votes. I have to say that though I do my best to try not to allow these thoughts to creep into my brain (because I think she has a right to have her family with her), I can't help but sometimes think that her intentions are less than noble. I certainly wouldn't be parading my infant around across the country and at late hours. And her behavior is much more calculated in this regard than Biden's one, very minor, and I would even say fleeting display of emotion. To ascribe some kind of cynical manipulation to Joe Biden over this is to not give Biden the benefit of any kind of charity, and that is why I think the anger about it is really misplaced.

And I'm not so sure Palin choking up over a personal emotional issue would be "Game Over" for her. Look what it did for Hillary! No, what does Sarah Palin in is that she gets flummoxed over simple questions. And, besides, couldn't I also easily argue that Biden getting choked up will be seen by some "man up" conservatives as an embarrassing weakness?

Finally, for what it's worth. I oppose the bailout plans, too. I understand that there may be good reasons related to consumer confidence and market stability to support a vote for the packages; but I'd much rather let both Main Street and Wall Street take their lumps over this. Personally, I think a government bailout of this type and kind and magnitude is just not sound and responsible fiscal behavior. But that won't stop me from voting for Obama in November, because my interests as a citizen of this country are not just about this bailout.