Palin

Just Plain Folk

I’m probably tilting at windmills here but I’ve got to be straight – the thinking that aww, shucks, I’m just a normal, every-day-guy is exactly the kind of quality we need in Washington, or our local governments for that matter, drives me absolutely. fucking. crazy.

Take a recent interview with Ted Nugent (see the entire clip here) where Fox host David Asman says the following:

“Well Ted, you have common sense, which probably 98 percent of the people inside the Beltway don’t have. And common sense means much more to living a good life than any kind of degree from an Ivy League university. These government officials, just because they have an Ivy League education doesn’t mean they know more than we do.”

Take away for a moment that, well, it kind of does, and instead consider this: when did having an education become a negative? That former President Bush projected the everyman persona any time he was in front of a camera boggles my mind. That the country elected him twice while he did so makes me want slam my head into a wall. Twice. The right’s continued love of former Governor Palin (due in large part to the same kind of personality) does the same.  

Sure, we elect politicians. But it’s important to note that we call them by another name, too – leaders. And don’t we want our leaders to have a first-rate mind? One that’s informed and analytical and capable of attacking the problems our country faces – problems that are incredibly complex, nuanced, and in dire need of all the brain-power we can put behind them, by the bye – with a little more intellectual might than Joe the Plumber?  

Thoughts?

Thanks to Eileen Smith at In the Pink for the original post.

A difference in expectations, addendum

So, there seems to be a bit of confusion with the last couple of posts. Because a good friend of mine took me to task for my lack of clarity I thought I’d make a quick post rather than continuing the comment thread.

While it quickly became political, the real point of the two posts was simply an observation about how the goals of these two groups seem to differ and how clear that difference was when I had the chance to attend both functions. 

The secondary thought was more of question – how do these goals impact a parent’s politics? In this election, as Ron quite correctly pointed out, the difference isn’t as clear as it normally is. Senator McCain has voted for additional funding for research and has sent a written request to President Bush to lift restrictions on funding for embryonic stem cell reserach. And, he’s done both counter to his party’s platform.

But…

I think we all remember the about-face former President Clinton did when it came to his campaign promise of lifting the ban on gays in the military. Perhaps not quite a bait and switch; President Clinton certainly didn’t deliver on his promise. Don’t ask, don’t tell, indeed.

If Senator McCain is elected, what will he do? Keep his promise or fold under the weight of his party and his base? If the Senator is the kind of man I think he is, my bet is on the former. Governor Palin, on the other hand, is a different story entirely.  

90 minutes I’m not going to get back, part two

Now for Senator Biden.

I’ve heard the question/phrase, “Is the juice worth the squeeze,” or a variation of it, in only a few places that I can recall. One is in a film called “The girl next door.” For me, it’s one of those movies that seemed like it was going to be both predictable and forgettable but turned out to be an absolute scream. In fact, it has one of the most hysterical five seconds in a film I’ve seen in I don’t know how long. I still grin when I think about it.

Another time (a bit more recent) the phrase came up was in a meeting with a new director for our company and a vendor (CEO and team). Details aren’t important, but know that particular show wasn’t anywhere close to the neighborhood of funny. 

After the VP debate, as I thought about each of the candidates, that phrase kept surfacing when considering Senator Biden.  

I wrote about the massively low expectations everyone had for Governor Palin in the last post. That people are celebrating she wasn’t completely clueless is still beyond me, but so be it. But that reporters and other talking heads are saying Senator Biden also did a great job leaves me equally confused.

On one hand, though, I get it. If the Senator’s role was to be calm, professional, and continue to push Senator Obama’s message, he did just fine. Clearly, most commentators think exactly that. I disagree.

Sure, in a typical VP debate that ideology makes sense – but this wasn’t a typical VP debate. Thursday night, rather than the policies of the presidential candidates, saw a debate that was actually about the VP. More specifically, this debate was about the Governor. That Senator Biden is an intelligent, informed, and highly effective public speaker was never a question. His ability to assume the role of President was equally never in question. But Governor Palin? After more than a week of fumbling, mistakes, and a lack of knowledge that is absolutely breathtaking, she was nothing but a question mark.  

Where was the “bulldog?” Senator Biden could have been playing the role of her grandfather that night; gently admonishing her from time to time instead of getting in her face and making it clear to the audience and the country that she’s false, unqualified, and (again) an empty suit. He could have done all this and been crisp, professional, and completely free of condescension, but he didn’t. Why? He, and the Obama camp, didn’t want him to be the guy that was mean to the girl.

Crap. Here’s where the story above comes in. For me, the juice is absolutely worth the squeeze. Let any and all say Senator Biden was mean to a girl. Let them do it, please. The problem with most Democrats is that we so disagree with the campaigning tactics of Republicans we’d rather remain silent and (dignified) rather than go anywhere near something even resembling them. We don’t want to be mean. We don’t want to be disparaging. We don’t want to be angry.

Folks, it’s time to get pissed off. 

I promise you, we can be angry and decent at the same time. We can be on the attack and respectful at the same time. Now, more than ever before, the facts, the state of our country, and the importance of this election, ensure that we can do both at the same time.

So why did Senator Biden let the Governor coast through the debate? Senator McCain’s numbers are now up, and there’s really only one reason – Senator Biden, for an evening, turned into a Lab.

photo by Janet Farthing

90 minutes I’m not going to get back, part one

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…