Thursday, October 02, 2008

Sarah Palin may or may not have beaten Biden, but she did beat Tina Fey

Tonight's debate was interesting for a lot reasons, first and foremost in regard to whether Sarah Palin was going to continue as a viable political presence. What Biden did was largely irrelevant: he doesn't help or hurt his ticket. In fact, he did just fine, although his Washington-speak can't have won over any converts in middle America. As Jennifer Rubin at Commentary Magazine put it about Biden's remark about the time he spends at Home Depot, "What’s he doing there — trying to find someone to deliver a lecture to?"

Sarah Palin may or may not have beaten Joe Biden in the debate, but the fact is she didn't have to. What she had to beat was the media image of a political newcomer out of her water, and this she did in spades.

This debate wasn't about beating Joe Biden. This debate was about beating Tina Fey.

Sarah Palin not only exceeded expectations, I think she saved her political career. She was in danger of becoming a political joke because of poor performances in unadvisable interviews the geniuses at the McCain campaign unwisely put her in. This debate completely rewrites all of that current wisdom. I think it was Fred Barnes who pointed out that he could not remember any vice presidential debate that rewrote the future of a partipant. This one clearly did.

The only comparable such event I can remember was the second presidential debate between Reagan and Mondale, when Reagan, after a lackluster performance in their first debate, and facing questions about his fitness for office because of his age, made the remark about "my opponent's youth and inexperience," and hit it out of the park.

If you are scoring a debate card, I think it was a draw for Palin at best, but we all know these debates cannot be scored that way. They are about much more than the words the candidates say. Debates like this come down, not to who has the better arguments (and there were cogent arguments on both sides), but to who is more appealing. On this criterion, Palin won hands down.

Palin exceeded expectations, which is what the current wisdom said she had to do to win. But she not only exceeded expectations, she exceeded the expectations by more than she was expected to exceed them.

What really told you about how this debate went was the remarks of the opponents, and you could detect the talking points Democrats had prepared in the case of a Palin win. Paul Begala (who you can always count on to follow his orders) said it best: Palin may have helped herself, but she didn't help McCain. When you can't say what you want to say about something you just saw, say something about something no one could see.

Begala and the Democrats might be right, but I suspect not. Whether the McCain/Palin ticket converts the unconverted as a result of the debate isn't really what you would expect anyway. But what the Obama campaign has to be equally concerned about is what this does for Republican turnout. Palin had energized the base, and that energy was eroding.

It is back now.

14 comments:

Kentucky Progress said...

I hope some enterprising Republican with a camera visits Home Depots in Delaware and in Washington D.C. to see if anyone can remember seeing Joe Biden there.

Somehow, like you, I doubt it.

Art said...

Hmm... someone help me out. Tina Fey hasn't (yet) bragged about imposing windfall profits taxes on oil companies. I believe that Palin did just that last night.

I always thought that this would be a bad thing, at least in conservative circles. But now I'm hearing that it isn't???

Then there's the debacle that is McCain's health care plan. Apparently (from the several accounts I have read today - such as this one), he thinks that the $5000 check he will cut me (at a cost of several trillions, only a fraction of which will be recouped by his regressive tax on employers) will pay for the $12,000 that it will cost me after my employer stops providing health coverage (owing to the fact that McCain plans on making it 20-30% more expensive, through this regressive tax on health benefits, a tax he intends to impose on businesses!) Typical conservative math. 5000 is greater than 12,000. No wonder we're in this economic mess.

Lee said...

> I always thought that this would be a bad thing, at least in conservative circles. But now I'm hearing that it isn't???

McCain's grand strategy since 2000 has been to acquiesce to liberalism and the liberal agenda -- he calls it "bipartisanship" -- and earn the love and respect of the news media.

Ask him how that's working out.

Palin was McCain's third choice (at least), after liberal Democrat Joe Lieberman and liberal Republican Tom Ridge. As his running mate, she has to emphasize her congruencies with McCain.

McCain is hoping Palin's style is enough to impress the conservatives who have been stupid enough to vote Republican for almost two decades after the Last Great Conservative left office.

Palin probably will help reel in the sort of conservative whose mentality is GOP cheerleader. Their analogue in the Democratic Party are the folks who have been chanting at Obama rallies.

> Typical conservative math.

What makes you think conservatism has anything to do with that sort of math?

Anonymous said...

It's soooo over for McCain.

Lee said...

McCain's political epitaph will be, simply, "He never knew who his friends were." Or would have been, if he'd only thrown them a bone once in a while.

As far as I'm concerned, a liberal president can hurt the country very badly. But nobody can hurt the country worse than a RINO Republican. That's "Republican in Name Only."

With free-market defenders like GWB and John McCain, who needs Barack Obama? Heck, who needs Karl Marx for that matter?

Art said...

Hi Lee,

McCain's "grand strategy" is to get elected. Period. It should be obvious by now that he's not going to go the mat over abortion, gay marriage, or any of the things that seem to matter to conservatives. Yet they will vote for him, even though it's also clear that he's the candidate who will be more frivolous, wasteful, and careless with our money. He'd be great for the few percent who are rich and healthy. For the rest of us, he's a disaster.

As for conservative math, it's conservatives who believe in a free lunch. Don't believe me? Ask any conservative if he/she would support a war tax to pay for excursions such as Iraq as we go, rather than pass on a trillion bucks of debt to our children and grandkids. Nary a one will say yes - they'll mumble and moan about government waste and spending, but none of them (NOT A ONE!!) will step up to the plate and pay for some of the things they foist on the country.

So, yeah, 5000 is greater than 12,000 according to the finest conservative minds. It makes perfect sense to them to steal from me and give the proceeds to those would both keep them and find any and all reasons to deny me the services these moneys are supposed to buy.

That's McCain/Palin in a nutshell.

Anonymous said...

John McCain is a nasty fraud and a man with the middle name Hussein is going to beat him. Sad, but there you go.

Lee said...

Art, "getting elected" is not a strategy; it's a goal.

> Yet [conservatives] will vote for him...

Speak for yourself. Or someone else.


> it's conservatives who believe in a free lunch.

Baloney.

> Ask any conservative if he/she would support a war tax to pay for excursions such as Iraq as we go, rather than pass on a trillion bucks of debt to our children and grandkids.

Government is involved in many, many things that it should never have gotten involved with in the first place. "Affordable housing" (now we owe $700 billion more because of it -- how is that working out?); welfare, food stamps, aid to dependent children; farm subsidies; old-age "annuities"; health care; education; urban renewal; subsidies of all flavors and varieties; none of which are its constitutional duties.

I certainly wouldn't be willing to do "pay as you go" on any of that. "Pay on the installment plan" is hardly better.

But defending the country is a constitutional duty of the federal government, and I darn well expect them to do it.

Defending the country is one of the "services" they owe me, to borrow your terminology, and it has the advantage of being constitutional.

As I have pointed out in other threads, it is not deficit spending which is the problem. It's *over* spending. Debt by itself isn't a bad thing; I'm quite positive you employ it yourself, or have -- unless you bought your first house with cash and buy all your cars with cash.

Anonymous said...

lee: As I have pointed out in other threads, it is not deficit spending which is the problem. It's *over* spending. Debt by itself isn't a bad thing; I'm quite positive you employ it yourself, or have -- unless you bought your first house with cash and buy all your cars with cash.

Going into debt for occasional emergencies/big events (houses for individuals, wars for countries) is okay; going into debt for everyday expenses (food, clothing for individuals, routine ongoing services for governments) is almost always going to implode eventually.

jah

Anonymous said...

MC: This debate was about beating Tina Fey.

Sarah Palin not only exceeded expectations, ... Debates like this come down, not to who has the better arguments ..., but to who is more appealing.
-----

So Palin won because she didn't make a complete fool of herself and because she was appealing.

And yet all of our problems are because we elect liberals and not due to the appallingly low standards we have for electing politicians, of whatever stripe. If we continue to elect people who promise more benefits and lower taxes, what can we expect?

jah

Lee said...

jah, I'm fine with that. The perspective here that I am countering, is the perspective that the military is the optional stuff and ruining the country with too much socialism is the necessary part.

It's the other way around.

If you're telling me we need to raise taxes to defend our country, come to me *after* we've cut out the optional stuff, and we'll talk about it then.

As I said, the problem is *over* spending. Our welfare state isn't worth it, regardless of whether we're paying as we go or borrowing.

Lee said...

> And yet all of our problems are because we elect liberals and not due to the appallingly low standards we have for electing politicians, of whatever stripe. If we continue to elect people who promise more benefits and lower taxes, what can we expect?

There are always appallingly stupid, venal, or incompetent politicians, and it always amazes me that so many people would like to give them even more popwer.

Since that's a constant, yes, ideology matters.

We just had the bejeezus kicked out of us to the tune of $700 billion -- with more on the way, you can count on that -- because of *federally* sponsored mortgage lenders (Fannie and Freddie) and extending the welfare state to include mortgages.

I don't want things to be run by the appalling poor politicians who went along with that.

And I also don't want things to be run by the bright, virtuous competent, conscientious folks, awash with a sense of their own sacred mission and sense of cosmic justice, who were convinced that lenders just didn't want to lend money to minorities because they were racist bigots -- and believed that all it would take to even things out would be to pressure the lenders to start making those loans.

We've seen how that turned out.

I'll take a venal, corrupt conservative who has some sense of proportion about the limitations of government, any day, over a righteous, holier-than-thou liberal zealot with no sense of limits, who is happy to play God with other people's money.

Art said...

Well, lee, I guess that's the difference between you and me. You can look your kids in the eye and tell them that you have no problems paying for your illegal wars with their kids' tax dollars. I am willing to shoulder my own burdens and pay for my own adventures, and not pass them on to future generations.

Lee said...

Art, you may also want to explain to your kids that you're willing to hand their future to a government that knows absolutely no bounds.

And, incidentally, wars are not illegal if Congress okays them.