I was going to compare last night’s VP debate with Episode I – highly anticipated and ultimately a massive, depressing let-down – when it occurred to me that at least Episode I had some cool new characters and ways to use the Force. With that realization I have to say, “Senator Biden, Governor Palin – you’re no Qui-Gon-Jinn.”
For Republicans, last night was a win. A win; a victory worthy of cheers and clapping and probably more than a few aww-shucks when all was said and done. Why? Governor Palin didn’t come across as inept and foolish. Really? That’s the standard? Is that where the bar has been set? Pundits have also said she went on the attack and stood toe-to-toe with Senator Biden. For me, there are two problems with that analysis: talking points and spin.
Her attacks were, primarily, nothing more than repeats of the attacks Senator McCain made last week against Senator Obama. Attacks that Obama effectively silenced during the debate. Funding for the troops comes to mind. Last week, after McCain stated that Obama voted not to fund the troops, Obama turned and broke it down nicely. His statement is as follows:
“First of all, let’s talk about this troop funding issue because John always brings this up. Senator McCain cut – Senator McCain opposed funding for troops in legislation that had a timetable, because he didn’t believe in a timetable. I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open-ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable. We didn’t have a difference on whether or not we were going to be funding the troops. We had a legitimate difference…”
After that, Senator McCain had the good sense not to make that statement again. Governor Palin, on the other hand, kept trying to hammer that message home. I guess she was hoping she would be heard by people that didn’t watch the first presidential debate. It was one of many talking points she just wouldn’t deviate from. Those talking points, broad, vague, and mostly without substance, seemed to focus only on, “gosh, American workers are the best in the world and our country is the envy of the everyone, wink, wink, let me give a shout-out.” Get too far away from that and she refused to answer the question or refused to explain the answer she gave. In a word, Governor Palin was an empty suit.
Spin. “There you go again, Joe. All you can do is look backwards…” Okay, not sure if this is an exact quote, but it’s close enough. Governor Palin said this or some variation of this multiple times last night. Why? The McCain camp doesn’t have a rebuttal to a simple truth: Senator McCain’s policies, votes, ideologies, and on, line-up with those of the Bush administration time and again. And, because it’s those policies and ideologies that have led us to this time and this place, it’s not only valid to say Senator McCain approved, supported, and endorsed President Bush’s policies, it’s necessary.
A moral imperative, you might say.
And, because the McCain campaign can’t defend, deny or explain away that truth they choose to do the only real thing they can – re-frame the conversation. Those sad, pesky liberals. All they can do is look backward when real leaders know we’ve got to move forward, etc. It’s spin, it’s bullshit, and I have even less respect for the Governor now than I did a couple days ago. And I didn’t think that was possible.
My problem is I also have less respect for Senator Biden. I’ll get into that next post…