The Flurry in Missouri

Riding the bus home everybody was talking about it. What do you think’s gonna happen? Did you hear what she said this time? Do people really like her? Young women carrying their potluck meals to get-togethers, or calling home for somebody to preheat the oven. Never in my life have I seen – or felt – such excitement for a fucking vice presidential debate.

But I think most of them were expecting a blowout, like Gibson vs. Palin, or Couric vs. Palin, or The View vs. McCain. But honestly I knew better. Yes, she’s a moron who in recent interviews could not name a single magazine or newspaper that she’s ever read, or a Supreme Court case besides Roe v. Wade, or a reason why the things she’s been saying in dozens of speeches or in other interviews (like the one about she knows foreign policy because she lives close to Russia) have any meaning or logic behind them. But I figured they could train her for this carefully planned debate structure. After her interviews made her look like the least qualified person to ever run for office (including Dolemite), the expectations were real low. Not to mention the lowered bar set by Bush, who made so little sense in the 2004 debates that to this day I believe the “conspiracy theory” that he had an earpiece and was confused about who was saying what to him. And he still won.

So as long as she comes out there with two shoes on, no drool on her chin, and never says the n-word, obviously everyone is going to say she did better than expected. And to be honest I was very impressed by her poise and eloquence.

Just kidding about that last part. I was pretty right about the “she wasn’t as bad as I expected” reaction, but it looks like we’re not an Idiocracy quite yet. Right wing pundits might argue that it’s not about substance and that she “connected with the people” and all that condescending bullshit, but I don’t think the trick worked that well. Maybe she did better than people expected, but very few people are pretending she won the debate.

Palin was well trained enough not to fall on her ass, but not quite enough to sound like she was answering the right questions or had heard of any of this shit two months ago. She seemed to begin each answer with a brief sentence implying that she had an answer but was in too much of a hurry to get into details, then changed the subject to something she’d been coached on. To me her worst moment was when Biden talked about ending the war and she said, “Um…” and took a long pause searching through her notes. For a second it seemed like this was it, the part where she was gonna blow it. Then she blurted out something about “you’re raising a white flag of surrender” that sounded so unnatural you had to wonder if there was more to it when they wrote it for her or if that was seriously the best thing they could come up with, recycling some bullshit that Bush used to get away with before some people knew better.

I mean think about it. Not only is it a stupid “what are you, a sissy?” argument just like the ones that got us into this mess in the first place, but it even insults our intelligence on the basic level of assuming we don’t know what waving a white flag means. Like she’s worried if she didn’t specify “of surrender” we would say, “What? What is this white flag you’re talking about? The American flag has other colors besides white, this must be some other– which flag is it you’re talking about?” Like we haven’t seen a fuckin Bugs Bunny cartoon before.

But I guess even without that it’s obvious that they think – or at least hope – that we’re stupid. The whole Palin gimmick is that she’s “like us,” and we would rather have somebody like us in charge of the country than some “elitist” who would know what to do. It’s this whole idea that it’s bad to be intelligent or educated, that a political candidate shouldn’t talk about substance unless it can be boiled down into a funny catch phrase, because otherwise it’s boring.

Of course we’re all cynical and we all know politics are phony, but they’re so aggressively phony these days that it’s hard to take. It kind of makes me mad to watch a lady who would only agree to one debate with 90 second answering periods to pretend to be frustrated by not having enough time to answer, and then at the end says she wishes there were more opportunities to talk like this. Well, what do you expect on a team of mavericks, they’re gonna be rebelling against their own wishes, making demands that they themselves disagree with.

(speaking of mavericks, I couldn’t help but picture all the drunk people around the country because “maverick” and “nuke-yoo-lar” were the most obvious drinking games for this debate and she far exceeded expectations for both words)

I wonder if what they’re going for even works on their target demographic, though. How many people really are charmed by that cartoonish schucks, by golly you betcha persona? Here is a vice presidential candidate literally winking into the camera. I’m surprised they didn’t arrange for a DING! sound effect. And she actually referred to “Joe Sixpack.” You know Joe, that hard working guy in Wasilla who hates snowmobiling so he’s bored as hell and just sits around drinking beer all day and thinking about killing himself. Used to be married to Wendy Winebox before she left him for Johnny Methlab.

I don’t know man, I feel like Palin and alot of people who are watching this whole thing are underestimating the intelligence of the Sixpack family. I think more than you realize will be uncomfortable with this business. It’s like a high school teacher trying to impress his class by using hip hop slang. Or that notorious Subaru commercial where poor Jeremy Davies tried to explain that Subaru was like punk rock, but a car. Sure, “hockey moms” are not as inherently cynical as young people and punks, they’re not as worried about being advertised to. But they’re not all imbeciles, is my guess.

I don’t know, anybody out there got a kid on a hockey team? Do you feel like a respected adult when she looks into that camera and winks at you, or do you feel like a dog being babytalked to? Let me know.

I still don’t get that thing about “I voted for Bush because he seems like a guy I’d want to have a beer with” thing, but I believe in 2008 most Americans will not fall for that type of shit. We’ll see, I guess.

As for Biden, I thought he did pretty good. He mostly answered the questions, and even the one that shouldn’t have been asked because obviously no politician is gonna answer it (“What is your Achilles heel?”) he at least acknowledged the question, unlike Palin. One highlight was when he talked about his working class background but then acknowledged that he does well now, gets a good salary as a senator and owns a nice house. That part struck me as an unusually honest statement and an important difference between the left and right views of the world. It seems to me like people on the right look to the poor and say “shame on you, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, that’s what I did you lazy fuck” while the left says “believe me man, I’ve been there, I’ll see what I can do to help you out.”

One moment I felt really proud was when it came to the question about gay rights, and without hesitation he expressed his full support and listed in detail what was important. Unfortunately I lost that pride when the followup question specified gay marriage and he immediately said he was against it. Of course this is what you have to say if you’re running for vice president, but I can’t be down with that stance because it’s more political bullshit. The government has no business interfering with marriage. If your religion doesn’t want to marry two women or two men guess what – you don’t have to! From the government’s perspective though marriage is not religion, it’s a civil union just like both candidates claimed they were in favor of.

I gotta say, I don’t agree with my libertarian friends, but I sure understand them more than republicans. You’re always talking about freedom and about how you hate big government and you quote Ronald Reagan’s oneliner about “we’re the government and we’re here to help,” but then you turn around and want the government to tell people who they can’t marry because your religion disagrees with theirs? It’s silly enough I oughta be able to laugh it off, but I take it personally because I feel like you’re attacking my family, telling my family what to do, and I don’t like that shit. And even though Biden was promoting gay rights and Palin was being careful to keep homophobes in the fold, her and Biden end up having the same stance on gay marriage.

But then there was that moment at the end when Palin did her little spiel about being a mom, and Biden took it as an implication that he doesn’t know what it’s like to struggle, and then she was in trouble. Her marketing pitch accidentally inspired genuine emotion, so you had the two to compare side by side. And I think most people know the difference.


here’s what seems to me to be a fair fact check of the debate

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 4th, 2008 at 1:24 pm and is filed under Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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