Friday, October 03, 2008

How Quickly We'll Forget

What Debate?

As predicted, the great Veep Debate is concluded and swiftly receding into the forgotten swirls of dim memory – where it undoubtedly belongs. The job of VP is to be ready to jump in if the need arises – both candidates appeared to be in good health, so they met the threshold standard.

I thought the debate was surprisingly on issues, which is a credit to all three participants. I would have guessed that Governor Palin would have spent most of her time on the Smear BandWagon, which is the only logical strategy for the McCain campaign. I’m surprised that she didn’t go on and on about Tony Reszko and Rev. Wright for 90 minutes. (Such an approach has the added benefit of lessening or even eliminating the need for any policy knowledge or even knowledge of the parties’ positions.) Whether it was Governor Palin, Senator McCain or other facts, the fact that the Republican nominee didn’t just wallow in the mud was a surprise.

Joe Biden turned in an indisputably “A+” performance. (The “+” is for the emotional choking up, which I swear to God I believe was authentic.) His opening speech was pedantic, wonky, overlong and dry – which I think set a mood in which the mud-slinging would have seemed jarringly out-of-place (though I doubt it changed Governor Palin’s tactics in any way.) Biden landed any number of solid blows in the form of calmly explaining why Republican ideas were nutty. Fair-minded viewers would have a hard time ignoring the essential logic and truth of his pronouncements, nor could they easily ignore his steady and calm demeanor, contrasted with her chirpy, nervous and screamingly-unready manner. On any number of occasions, she retreated to “local anchor” syntax. I almost expected her to throw it to Joe for the latest on the weather.

Expectations had been lowered by the Couric interviews, so that her rising to the level of, say, the interviews with Hugh Hewitt or Sean Hannity was hailed as victory. But her embrace of non-standard English, her spurning of the norms of conversational logic, her glaring nervousness, her evident lack of both education and intelligence – cannot have served her or her cause well.

Palin’s performance may have been enough to stanch the bleeding of support on her side, though I suspect her principal will soon give voters new reasons to distrust him. And in a contest in which her side is losing, she did nothing to move toward victory, which in the Real World is the relevant standard.

One last thought: how can a majority of Alaskans watch this and think they have a great Governor? My guess is Palin will have her hands full finishing out her term and winning any election again. Getting a show on Fox News, though – well, I think Todd will just love the fishing in Chesepeake Bay when the Palins move to DC.

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