Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Authenticity Gap

Before last night a lot of Republican operatives were wringing their hands about the prospect of Sarah Palin going up against Joe Biden in a vice presidential debate. If those same hands are being rubbed together right now, they should be, and here's why.

Joe Biden's chief weakness is that he comes off as inauthentic. If you watched the judicial hearings for Robert Bork or any of the Supreme Court nominees in recent years, it is plain as day. He seems smarmy and arrogant. He exudes a lack of genuineness from his shoes all the way up the ends of his hair plugs. I can't think of an easier target for Sarah Palin's homespun charisma.

Call it the "Authenticity Gap".

The Democrats are going to have to retool Biden's demeanor, and they only have until October 2 to do it.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wait 'till Sarah Palin gets grilled on foreign policy, then we'll really get to see how she'll do in the debates.

kycobb said...

Palin is a lightweight and a hard-right kook, but so far that has all been obscured by the furor over Bristol's pregnancy. Hopefully the media can quit acting like tabloids and start asking hard questions about the Governor's record.

Anonymous said...

Yes, appearances above all; heaven forbid that voters should pay attention to anything candidates say or what positions their past behavior indicates.

Mr Cothran's reliance on having voters place form over substance raises questions about his concern for educational reform.

jah

Art said...

Of course Martin is relying on appearances - if his candidates ever gave a straight answer to the two or three most important questions, they'd go down in flames. That's why the Republicans are going to be reading from their cue cards and doing everything to avoid facts.

Once aqain - given all that we know today, does Palin think the war in Iraq was necessary?

I predict that Palin won't answer the question - ever. And that Martin and his conservative cohort will complain like stuck pigs because some meanies out there are asking relevant, substantive, and important questions that their heroes are ducking.

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

Is that a defense of the lies being directed at Palin?

Art said...

It's easy to know when you've struck a nerve, found a line of inquiry that the opposition cannot address.

Once aqain - given all that we know today, does Palin think the war in Iraq was necessary?

America deserves to know the answer. And Palin won't step to the plate. That about says it all as far as Palin is concerned.

Art said...

Seeing as we're collecting stumpers, revealing how averse Republicans are to reality, here's another question for Palin:

Are there more or fewer ice-free days along the north shore of your home state today than 50 years ago?

Simple question, one that Palin, I predict, would not answer.

Martin, do you think America deserves answers to this question?

Art said...

Continuing of the exploration of the size of the chasm that is Palin's accountability gap:

Governor, over that past two-three months, gasoline prices have declined by some 30-40 cents per gallon. Was this decline more due to a decline in demand, or an opening of the North Slope oil faucet?

Don't go away - there's a follow-up to this question, one that America deserves an answer to.

Art said...

Another question for Palin:

Would you tell a rape victim that her circumstance is a "mistake we make as a society"?

Please, Governor (and/or Martin), America deserves an answer.

Martin Cothran said...

Your making announcements to the political world from my blog?

Cool.

Lee said...

> "Palin is a lightweight and a hard-right kook, but so far that has all been obscured by the furor over Bristol's pregnancy. Hopefully the media can quit acting like tabloids and start asking hard questions about the Governor's record."

One thing you can be sure of: she will be asked much harder questions than are asked of Obama, whose only chance of being elected is if the news media can deflect any questions designed to out him as an ultra-liberal. Trust me, the mainstream media knows the score.

Presidential candidates always have to pose as more conservative than they really are to have any chance at winning the election. Jimmy Carter ran as an "outsider", a Baptist evangelical, and thus kept a lid on his ultra-liberalism until safely elected. Four years later, America went, "Ptui!" Bill Clinton ran as a moderate and governed as a liberal until the 1994 GOP Congress, and then famously proclaimed, "The age of big government is over" -- he decided he'd rather be president than liberal.

Palin, too, must appear more conservative than she really is. When I look at her, I see another ideology-free Republican who doesn't necessarily understand why liberalism needs to be opposed. But that makes her no different than most Republicans, and it certainly doesn't separate her from McCain, king of the "go along to get along" Republicans.

If I were a liberal, I'd be feeling pretty good this election year. Either choice will continue the inexorable march toward entrenched, irreversible socialism. But liberals do get impatient, and they don't want to have to wait a few more years, so they just can't be happy with someone like McCain.

Lee said...

Art, if pro-lifers were to concede that in the 0.01% of abortions resulting from rape pregnancies, would you give any ground at all on the 99.99% that don't involve rape?

Art said...

Hi Lee,

Your question is a nice segue into another one I would pose for Palin (and McCain, who hasn't answered it either): Will you be using my childrens' (and grandkids') money to pay for the prisons we will need to house the thousands of women your draconian anti-abortion policies will imprison? Or will you do the honest thing and accompany your legislative criminalization of all abortion with a tax increase to pay as you go (as it were)?

And here's a somewhat related one: Republicans since Reagan have governed on the credit plan - pay for today's questionable policies with the money of the next generation. Are you going to continue with the policy of financing your policies with the income of future generations (that last word is plural because Bush et al. have pretty much sopped up all of my kids' inheritance)?

Lee said...

> art: "Your question is a nice segue into another one I would pose for Palin (and McCain, who hasn't answered it either): Will you be using my childrens' (and grandkids') money to pay for the prisons we will need to house the thousands of women your draconian anti-abortion policies will imprison?"

Has anyone proposed sending women who have had abortions to prison?

And what's worse: sending someone to prison temporarily, or sending someone to death permanently?

> "Or will you do the honest thing and accompany your legislative criminalization of all abortion with a tax increase to pay as you go (as it were)?"

Would you refrain from using the term "all abortion" if we were to concede the occasions when it is done to protect a woman's life?

Or would you prefer to continue stating the objections of anti-abortion folks in your own terms?

If liberals run things, my taxes will be used to pay for abortions. If religious conservatives run things, your taxes will be used to shelter and feed, against their will, abortion doctors and maybe some abortion users. Neither one of us has a line-item veto on our tax dollars. And it has nothing to do with "honesty". The public pays -- that's why it's called public policy.

> art: "And here's a somewhat related one: Republicans since Reagan have governed on the credit plan - pay for today's questionable policies with the money of the next generation."

I don't see it as a failing of Reagan's so much as I see it as a fight he deferred. Perhaps ill-advisedly, but he did have other fish to fry. And a lot of that fish, I think he fried fairly well.

But I am old enough to recall all the opprobrium Reagan received in the press for "slashing" federal programs, when essentially all he mainly succeeded in doing was slowing the growth of those programs.

Of course, the same folks who pilloried Reagan for slashing programs happened to be the same ones who complained about deficit spending. Well, I guess that's politics.

There is certainly nothing inherently conservative in principle about deficit spending, and certainly a lot of Republican office-holders respond too well to the incentive to use their power as a way to curry power and favor with those who want the federal money spigots to be aimed their way.

There is an assymmetry here: Democrats are reliably liberal, but Republicans and conservatives are at best only uneasy allies. Republicans may talk conservative, but that's not how most of them walk.

And there is, by the way, a difference between a government that borrows money, and a government that spends too much money. There is nothing wrong with borrowing money, but everything wrong with spending too much money, and in particular spending too much money on things you shouldn't spend money on to begin with.

When a liberal says he is a "fiscal conservative", what he means is that he would like to continue spending money on things we shouldn't be spending money on, but that the money we spend should be taxed directly rather than borrowed.

And when a Republican says he is a "fiscal conservative", chances are, he's just flat out lying.

Art said...

Lee, you asked:

"And what's worse: sending someone to prison temporarily, or sending someone to death permanently?"

And what's wrong with taking all reasonable measures to reduce or eliminate unwanted pregnancies?

After all, this is a way to reduce abortion that does not rely on litmus tests for judges (and the resulting and predictable legislative impasses), it does not rely on laws that lead to incredibly stupid enforcement practices, etc., etc. Better still, it's something that the majority of persons on both sides of the issue (not politicians, unfortunately, but the rank and file) can easily and willingly agree on.

Why do conservatives so vehemently oppose this approach? (They do, you know - it's one of the hypocrisies I delight in pointing out, and it's a hypocrisy that we can actually pin on Palin.)

Oh yeah, we heard someone propose something akin to this recently (hint - it wasn't McCain or Palin).

Art said...

Lee (and Martin), in the past almost 30 years, we have seen one thing clearly - Republicans borrow, Democrats pay as they go. I'm willing to pony up, you're not. I resent that you're so willing to spend my grandkids' money, even on things I support.

That's why I ask Palin (and McCain, and Obama, and Biden - I want to make them all sweat this issue) this question.

Lee said...

> Art: "And what's wrong with taking all reasonable measures to reduce or eliminate unwanted pregnancies?"

Absolutely nothing. It's one of the reasons churches teach young folks not to engage in premarital sex. We get sniped at a lot in the media, and undermined by the culture, on this point, but we struggle on.

> Art: "After all, this is a way to reduce abortion that does not rely on litmus tests for judges (and the resulting and predictable legislative impasses), it does not rely on laws that lead to incredibly stupid enforcement practices, etc., etc."

Well, if it's that easy, let's just abolish all laws and we wouldn't need any judges at all.

But of course it's not that easy. We will have litmus tests, impasses, etc. for as long as there are differences of opinion about what the law ought to do, and how judges ought to interpret it.

Abortion is just one issue that shows the divide. Don't worry, they'll make more.

> Art: "Better still, it's something that the majority of persons on both sides of the issue (not politicians, unfortunately, but the rank and file) can easily and willingly agree on."

Great. But you need to specify what it is exactly that we agree on. Exhort kids not to engage in premarital sex and teach them the morality of His church? Or pass out condoms with a wink and a nudge?

> Art: "Why do conservatives so vehemently oppose this approach?"

Since you haven't specified a course of action, but only alluded to a desired goal, how can you assume that conservatives vehemently oppose it? Goals are one thing, processes are another.

> Art: "(They do, you know - it's one of the hypocrisies I delight in pointing out, and it's a hypocrisy that we can actually pin on Palin.)"

I would say you can never really separate hypocrisy from the preaching of virtue, since man is a fallen creature; either virtue is preached by the fallen, or not preached at all. Really, you don't have to be so gleeful over the fact that a lesson in virtue did not take in this young girl's upbringing.

And you need not marvel about how a coarse, sex-crazed culture led her to that path, or why cultural conservatives are always complaining about TV and Hollywood.

But on the other hand, the baby wasn't aborted. That's cause for some celebration, no? She didn't see herself as being "punished with a baby."