Friday, October 3, 2008

Sarah, Yer Jest Sucha Special Spirit...

I don't even know where to begin. There were so many great moments in last night's debate, it's hard to know where to start.

From the minute she grasped the hand of the distinguished senator from Delaware and asked, "Can I call ya Joe?" I knew what we were going to see was more of the same from the last eight years. Only this time, it was wearing a skirt and an up-do.

Let me start with Senator Biden, though. I found his responses clear, concise, and on target. He answered each question that was asked of him and his poise inspired confidence. He owned his differences between himself and Barack Obama, but also made it singularly clear that he believes in the policy platform put forth by his running mate. He was clear on his role as vice president should he be so privileged and called Dick Cheney "the worst vice president we've had in the history of the executive branch." Thankfully, he was especially forceful and clear on where that office lies within the three branches of government. Biden was strong, direct, and knew his facts without sounding overly briefed.*

While Biden has been known in the past to sometimes fly off the handle and snap back when attacked, he never once took the bait from his opponent or counterattacked on a personal level. He stayed on topic and kept the focus on the distinction between Obama and McCain--the two people we're being asked to choose between on November 4.

And now for Palin. I wrote earlier this week that I felt sorry for her. Those days are over. What I saw last night was nothing short of frightening.

Palin may have been poised. She may have appeared confident. She was certainly folksy. She even sounded intelligent and had obviously been very well briefed and rehearsed. Anyone who's comfortable with public speaking can do that for one night and come across as capable and in command. But how will she perform in a McCain administration? Her ability to be rhetorical was strong, but she avoided answering questions directly, redirected to issues she wanted to discuss that weren't asked, and failed to persuade this voter that she's capable of being a safe and wise vice president. Her answer alone that she agrees with Dick Cheney on the place of the vice president in the three branches of government sent chills up my spine.

Gov. Palin's repeated efforts to portray herself as a good little girl from the heartland by leaning into the camera, winking, flashing that cliquey beauty queen smile, and tellin' us we're near-and-dear to her heart actually turned me off. I grew up in a place where many people talk in that folksy style. A lot of them lead you to believe you're their BFF for time and all eternity and they've got your back. And while some of them are selling you their brand of snake oil as warmth and a hand of fellowship, they're stabbing you in the back with the other hand.

I'm tired of golly-gee-Wally-I'm-your-buddy folksiness. In fact, I'm leery of it, because it means you're trying to sell me something. For eight years, we've had a president who gets away with murder and mayhem by softly chuckling and coining phrases like "I'm the Decider". For eight years, we've had a vice president who condons torture and believes he is above the law. For eight years, we've been embroiled in a war in a country we never should have been in in the first place and we were led there by men who lied to the people who entrusted them with the highest office in the land. For eight years, we've been moving steadily downward into a quagmire of deregulated feudalism. It's enough already.

Sarah Palin (and her dishonest, Rovian cohort) is nothing more than aw-shucks George and war criminal Dick in a skirt with a sparkling smile and a special spirit. You can put lipstick on that, but it's still Bush-Cheney all over again.


If you missed the debate, you can catch it here. I promise, it's worth every minute.


* Having worked on policy issues and having written briefings and talking points for people who need to know the facts so they can brief a congressperson or senator, I know rehearsed talking points when I hear them. Biden is no exception when it comes to briefings, because a public official can't know every little nuance of an issue. But, where he differed in delivery significantly from Gov. Palin is, Sen. Biden knew the points he needed to make and he conveyed them with a grounded-in-knowledge, rather than a briefed, touch. That impressed me greatly.


anOCgirl said...

the cheney comment freaked me out too. i mean, really? we want 8 more years of that?

i didn't like palin's folksiness last night. it just seemed very fake to me. especially when she would attack obama/biden and then a few second later, she'd say something 'sweet' like how biden's wife would be rewarded in heaven for teaching.

also, i think if i hear the word "maverick" again in a debate, i will throw something at the TV.

Gilahi said...

I was amazed from the outset when she opened up by talking about "asking soccer moms" about the state of things today. Right off the bat, she was trying to play the "I'm a regular person just like you are, Heartland" card. WAY too obvious.

Not only "maverick", but she had obviously been coached to use the words "patriotism", "freedom", and "democracy" as often as she possibly could.

She also mentioned, at one point, the mess on Main Street that's affecting Wall Street. I believe she got that backwards. Maybe....

Virginia said...

Well coached is an understatement. She acted like a teenager running for Secretary of the Student Body and
had memorized the speech her Mom wrote for her. If anyone interrrupted her in the middle of a sentence, she would have to go back and start over.

And one last thing (maybe) I am SICK TO DEATH of hearing about Joe Six Pack and hockey moms. The VP of the USA does not talk like that. I hope she made John McCain and Dick Cheney cringe, if that's possible.

And why doesn't Mr. Mom ever carry the baby? IT's 11:00 at night and they are dragging a baby around like a doll, or maybe a prop is a better word.

LG said...

It's interesting, because my sentiments have followed the same arc as yours: feeling sorry for her until last night.

I am amazed and insulted by the arrogance of the Republican candidates, that they believe we'll buy this "I'm just a maverick/Joe Six Pack/Hockey Mom/Pit Bull with Lipstick/Washington outsider/straight talker who winks during debates. That's what they think we identify with, apparently.

I found it frightening that when asked if she'd ever had to change her way of thinking about anything, she said no. When asked if there were any promise her party wouldn't be able to keep because of the bailout plan, she said no.

Biden made some strong points because he's BEEN there in the trenches, working on policies. Palin made some good points because they were written for her.

Gah! I could go on, but I won't.

Cele said...

Viginia hit it, but something that scared the bejebers out of me is when she held her baby for 5.5 seconds, handed it to her little girl to carry said large baby down the stairs. I'm kept thinking if she does that with a baby she'll do it with a country.

I'm pretty damn sick of the six pack Joe comments. All American's are not alcoholics or even have a six pack of anything, unless it's hemeroids. Palin cracked me up after she handed off the baby and started talking with Biden, you couldn't hear what was being said back and forth but you could tell she had to concentrate, her smile slipped, and she had an, "Oh, help," look on her face, "He's speaking English."

I watched the last five minutes and Jeff Greenfields was enough for me.

lacochran said...

She did better than I thought she would, given the Katie interview and the number of bonehead comments she's been delivering.

I was appalled at her winking. Maybe Reagan can get away with that kind of stuff but I didn't think it worked for her.

And I am SO glad Biden finally called her and McCain out on that "maverick" nonsense!!

Bottom line: Biden won the debate, hands down. He was on fire! He knew his facts, he was gracious, he stayed on point and he nailed it. In a nutshell: the perfect statesman and the perfect VP.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

OC Girl: I kept wanting to reach into the t.v., slap Palin like Cher, and yell, "Knock it off with the phony baloney!" As for your least favorite word, aren't you glad Biden finally called her and McCain out on that one? Classic. My least favorite word was "Alaska". Every time she said that word, my hair stood on end.

Gilahi: Wasn't that opening appalling?! I guess it wouldn't have been so bad if it had be in a less sing-songy, syrupy sweet voice. As it was, it sounded contrived and belittling. Oh, and her gaffe where she mixed up Main Street and Wall Street was so Freudian, it was beautiful. I'm disappointed the media didn't pick up on that one.

Virginia: You're dead on with that one. She did sound like she was running for Student Council. When is she going to realize (or when are the American people going to realize) this election is a popularity contest pitting the jock and the homecoming queen against two debate/chess club geeks. This is serious business. As for dragging their kids around like props, is it just mean or does seem really detached around her children?

LG: I found it frightening, too, that she didn't have anything she'd ever changed her thinking on or anything she'd change. In truth, her inability to answer the question with any kind of acumen shows on yet another level just how unprepared she is to be vice president, let alone president. She should go away and come back in four years when she has a little more executive experience under her belt.

Cele: Did you catch how Palin's dad was tripping all over himself to talk to Biden? That was cracking me up! You're daughter's running for veep and you're more excited about meeting the opposition. I'm with you on the Joe Six-Pack comments: they're old, cliche, tiresome, and belittling. I'm tired of being belittled.

Lacochran: The winking thing was just awful. Every time she did that, I feel hoodwinked and dirty. Blech. I'm with you, though: Biden ROCKED!

Herb of DC said...

What? You saw her winking also? I thought that was only for me! I mean I am from the Midwest and we fall for things like that....well at least we did back in 1955!!!!

Virginia said...

Detached is a good word. Something has bothered me when I watch her with the baby. She holds it and pats it in a distracted way. NEVER any interaction, but then FIrst Dude doesn't either. I think I am probably looking for things, not that I have to look far for things that set my teeth on edge from her, but you are right I think. The children are there but there's no warmth shown them. I just got a shiver down my back.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Herb: I think because I spent a few years living in Utah, I was able to see the wink. Can't get more conservative than the Beehive State. The way Palin behaved, you'd think we'd been thrown back to 1955. Sheesh.

VJ: I'm probably looking for more stuff than is really there. Who knows. She probably adores her kids, but it's hard to see that when she's handling off the special needs baby to the five or six year old. Weird stuff, I'm tellin' ya. Just plain weird.

Maya said...

Hear hear! My parents and I kept saying, "there she goes again, returning to her talking points and not answering the question."

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Maya: That was absolutely the most infuriating part of her responses! And then she had the hubris to say, "I'm not going to answer the question like you want me to. I'm going to talk to the American people."

Holy hell! What part of debate don't you get, Sarah? We want you to answer the questions because we need to know where you and McCain stand on the issues. Grrrrr!