Friday, October 03, 2008

Debate Reaction

Updated: Friday, 2:00pm

Much is being made of the issue the Governor Palin did not answer questions last night, that she provided memorized stump speeches that were frequently non-responsive to the question asked by the moderator. To some degree I’m not sure why that is such a topic of conversation, since that is the norm in politics as we know it today, and John McCain is probably the most masterful practitioner of it on the campaign trail at present. Obama, Biden and all of the candidates who have fallen by the wayside have been practicing the technique at length, though, so I don’t know why we expect Palin to do anything different.

There are a couple of things that make it noteworthy with Palin, though. One difference is that the others don’t answer questions because they don’t want to, while Palin doesn’t answer because she cannot do so, and that introduces a somewhat different dynamic into the evasion. Perhaps a trace of poorly concealed panic.

The other dynamic is that the others sort of glide into the evasion while Palin hits the viewer over the head, hammerlike, with the change of subject. She point blank announces the new topic, “I’m going to talk about taxes,” or just announces that she isn’t going to answer the question, “I may not answer the question the way the moderator…” The others at least pretend they are going along with the question that was asked, but then they are not “mavericks.”

The concept of coming right out and saying that she doesn’t care what we want to know, she is going to tell us what she wants us to know, doesn’t play well with me, but then I’m not a low information voter. I suspect there are plenty who are so charmed by her twinkling and “aw shucks” approach that they are satisfied with the answers to her self-asked questions rather than the ones asked by the moderator.

She managed to hide her Christianist fundamentalism pretty well on the question about gay marriage, although her use of the word “tolerant” grated on me rather badly. She doesn’t accept gays, she tolerates them. Isn’t that big of her?

But her Christainist fundamentalism showed in a brief glimpse when talking about peace in Israel, when she spoke of moving our embassy to Jerusalem. Yikes. I wonder how many people in the Arab world were watching the debate.

She echoed the tired old saw from John McCain about the importance of Iraq in the nonsensical war against terror,
And as for who coined that central war on terror being in Iraq, it was the General Petraeus and al Qaeda, both leaders there and it's probably the only thing that they're ever going to agree on, but that it was a central war on terror is in Iraq. You don't have to believe me or John McCain on that. I would believe Petraeus and the leader of al Qaeda.

Bin Laden made that statement in December of 2004, almost two years after we invaded Iraq. It was the central front because we were there at the time. If we had not invaded Iraq, Bin Laden would have no interest in that country whatever. Neither would Petraeus, since there would be no combat troops there for him to command.

My other reaction is that most commenters are saying that since she never broke down and babbled senselessly she was a big winner. Here’s where there is such a difference between watching live and simply reading a transcript, because I saw several times that she absolutely did erupt into pure sense-free babbling.

For instance when she was asked about the issue of the role of Vice President. Some commenters reacted to her response as saying that she wanted to expand yet further on the power of the office, beyond that which Cheney has already established. Others said that she was simply endorsing the expanded role already created by Cheney. But read the transcript of what she said,
“Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president's agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we'll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation.”

She actually said nothing at all, other than displaying a considerable lack of knowledge of what the constitution actually says about the office of Vice President. Her personal pronouns need a little work; who is the “we” that will “do what is best” etc? To paraphrase Joe Biden that, ladies and gentlemen, is babbling.

When Gwen Ifill asked about the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons things really turned into chaos. In all fairness, her question could have been phrased more clearly, and I thought it was a pretty dumb question. I interpreted it to mean “At what point would you be willing to drop a nuclear weapon on an enemy?”

Joe Biden didn’t answer that question either, although he did get sidetracked by Palin’s foray into a Civil War general’s insistence that we were winning in Afghanistan, or that we could if McCain were elected, or… Anyway.
IFILL: Governor, on another issue, interventionism, nuclear weapons. What should be the trigger, or should there be a trigger, when nuclear weapons use is ever put into play?

PALIN: Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be all, end all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period.

Now, read that again and try to tell me that Palin never broke out into senseless babbling. “Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be all, end all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet” is absolutely a palindromism.

Said forwards or said backwards, it makes no sense at all.

Update: Friday, 2:00pm
Ah, yes, this is the quote I was looking for,
"...unless you're pleased with the way the federal government has been running anything lately, I don't think that it's going to be real pleasing for Americans to consider health care being taken over by the feds."

Um, hello. Most popular program ever, next to Social Security; Medicare.


  1. Anonymous4:34 PM

    babbling... interesting and apropos description of the "debate" especially on Ms. Palin's part.

    Mr Biden's answers were more on point than hers, he stayed on topic more than she did and he seemed pretty pleasant during the whole thing. He seems a lot more cool and collected than she did.

    She got through... she didn't sink in abject disaster or go down in flames. Just chug-sputter-bounce of engine trouble and clogged gas lines and aileron malfunctions. No one expected much, and it looks like they were fulfilled.

    Mr Biden had the looks, the cool and the answers (even if they were partly political non-speak). Donna asked why wasn't he the nominee for Pres instead of the vice.

    More twaddle later from the tops of the tickets. Well okay, I expect twaddle from McHiney, we'll see what Mr. Oboy has to say. Stay tuned...

  2. I noticed she blinked A LOT during th edebate. Of course, I do that too, when my bangs are as long as hers and falling in my eyes like hers were. Maybe they haven't been trimmed since she was asked to ve the VP noninee.