Saturday, September 27, 2008

Master Debaters

As tempting as it was to have a debate drinking game last night, I figured I'd be face-down 45 minutes into it. So I just caught some of the end, knowing I'd be making the rounds of postmortem entrail-reading over the weekend. Of course it's too soon to tell much of anything, but Nate Silver has some perceptions and observations that jibe pretty well with the limited amount I saw. Obama wisely played to his strength and addressed the camera/nation directly as much as possible, while McCain was in town-hall mode, still trying to win back his dwindling coterie of pundits and rubes, after spending the second half of the week looking like an erratic, tornado-chasing oaf.

The statistical jumps Silver cites, if they hold, may prove to be the most crucial in the end. I beat on McCainiacs for being dopes and idiots, and I haven't wavered in that assessment, but what we bloggerses and political junkies frequently forget -- or at least I do -- is that most people are not too wrapped up in these things, arguments over policy and such. They may tell themselves that both sides are ripping them off to equal degree or whatever, but they do not involve themselves much until the very end. And that coveted "low-information voter" swath is McPalin's sweet spot; by definition, they have to count on obstinate, ignorant people to get their backs up over perceived slights and imaginary grievances.

And they might have gotten away with it, if it hadn't been for that meddling economy. The prospect of Wall Street weasels threatening us if we don't help them cover their lousy bets and unchecked greed to the tune of thirteen figures (if $700 bn was the figure they pulled out of their asses, the real number is probably at least double that) tends to wake up even the most reality-teevee-addled doofus. Even the dimmest bulb looks at these million-dollar clowns, with their crummy track records and ludicrous side bets, and wonders why we should believe them -- not only this time, but right now, and they need it all or we're gonna die!!1!Z0MG!1!1!!

It's pure gall and avarice, and the low-info demo know it, just as they figure that even though Obama has actually taken more Wall Street money, and despite the fact that at least some of this Goldman Sachsification of the financial superstructure originated and perpetuated under Bob Rubin's tenure as Treasury Secretary, the Democrats are still slightly less likely to tell them to go fuck themselves in hard times. Oddly, this makes a tangible perceptual difference.

One of the cooler observations is that of McCain's lack of eye contact being described in terms of monkey politics. I think it's probably more contempt than fear; more and more McCain comes off as the sort of person who feels that he's above having to explain shit to people. But considering he has two main policy advisors (Georgia lobbyist Randy Scheuenemann and UBS banking bigwig Phil "Whiners" Gramm) caught up in two major current issues (Russia and the bailout, respectively), and his "game-changer" running mate has been exposed as a pathological liar and a blithering, sorely unqualified moron, he has quite a bit of 'splainin' to do.

As for the next round, Obama's team is smart in refusing the bait of lowering expectations for poor ol' Punxsutawney Palin.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told reporters Saturday that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, is “a terrific debater” who could give Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden (D-Del.) a run for his money when they meet Thursday.

“We’ve looked at tapes of Gov. Palin’s debates, and she’s a terrific debater,” Plouffe told reporters on a conference call. “She has performed very, very well. She’s obviously a skilled speaker. We expect she’ll give a great performance next Thursday."

Nice. They're not giving Open Mike Allen even a toehold here. She's expected to perform well, period. And if Biden's smart (which, depending on the day, can itself be open to debate), he'll let her do as much talking as possible. She may internalize a few important names in her frenetic cramming sessions, much as Will Ferrell's Bush parody in the 2000 debates showed him confidently reeling off "Obasanjo" and such. But there's a lot of specialized knowledge involved, and she clearly seems to be starting from scratch. A week might be just enough time to explain basic geopolitical ramifications to someone who isn't up on any of it, but it's not enough time for her to make it convincing.

Palin's numbers haven't dropped because of Democrats armed with facts -- her devoted cultard followers have no use for such things -- but because of her. Every time she tries to think or speak extemporaneously, a few more people wonder what they were thinking -- which, if they ever voted for George W. Bush and are seriously considering voting for John McCain, they should have been asking themselves in the first place. There is no "Palin Derangement Syndrome", it's all in their feverish pea brains. She's probably a perfectly nice person, but we're not voting for a neighbor, so grow the fuck up already.

Added fun: Perrin nails it. Even the most ardent Obama supporter should understand that the choice is not between Satan's Spawn and the Bringer of Light (which, after all, was Lucifer, n'est-ce pas?), but between an almost 100% assurance of further catastrophe, and a small but worthwhile chance to mitigate ongoing crises. As always, it matters less who wins than what all of us do the day after, the week after, the year after the election. As long as we put up with mal-fee-ance from either party, we're just as guilty as our electoral vessels of collective absolution.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin is a Master Debater. See the image on this site to see what I mean.

I'm Pullin' For Palin - The Unofficial Tribute To Our Future VPILF