Friday, October 3, 2008

The only thing Palin proves in debate is that she can be folksy

The bottom line on last night's debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden is this: Palin gave folksy (often annoying) anecdotal responses to serious questions. She clearly lacked the knowledge to give substantive responses. Instead, she just tried to charm the pants off the public. Luckily, this time, it appears it didn't work except with the die hard Republican faithful, who were never going to be swayed anyway. Every major post debate poll shows Biden a clear winner, even the uber-conservative, barely real news Fox Network.

Palin had a lot of ground to make up after her amateur-hour interviews with Katie Couric, which she tried to write-off by saying, "I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media kind of telling viewers what they've just heard." But Palin came off looking like a beauty pageant contestant (something she actually does have experience doing) earnestly pressing the case that she understands world issues. Where Biden gave serious, detailed answers to questions, she offered an anecdote and skipped right past the substance to offer nonspecific, generic, lightweight responses.

Her other strategy was to just ignore the questions altogether on issues including global warming, an Iraq exit strategy, the nuclear threat in Pakistan v. Iran, Bush policy failures in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and her "Achilles heel" - a lack of experience. She contemptuously stated, " I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also." I think the point of a debate is that you answer the question you're asked, not freestyle discussions that suit you.

Palin's annoying colloquialisms were off the Richter scale last night. Every answer was peppered with a "you betcha", "darn right", "bless their heart", "doggone it" or a reference to Joe Six Pack and hockey moms. But her attempt at folksiness couldn't hide the fact that she doesn't know squat about major issues and that holds scary beliefs like the Constitution gives her "flexible" powers as VP (something Cheney ascribes to) or that climate change isn't man made. Palin said, "I'm not one to attribute every man -- activity of man to the changes in the climate."

Some glaring examples of Palin's lightweight answers include her reponse to Gwen Ifill's question about whether Bush's policy with Israel and Palestine had been an abject failure:

"No, I do not believe that it has been. But I'm so encouraged to know that we both love Israel, and I think that is a good thing to get to agree on, Sen. Biden."

What kind of answer is that to one of the most pressing issues of the day? Another gem was her response to Ifill's questions about nuclear interventionism. Besides being unable to pronounce the word "nuclear", like George Bush, Palin gave an inane answer to a serious question:

IFILL: Governor, on another issue, interventionism, nuclear weapons. What should be the trigger, or should there be a trigger, when nuclear weapons use is ever put into play?

PALIN: Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be all, end all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period.

Palin also tried to distance herself and McCain from the Bush administration while Biden kept pointing out their similarities. During one exchange, Palin said:

"Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferences your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education and I'm glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and god bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right? I say, too, with education, America needs to be putting a lot more focus on that and our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deserving."

Palin's ridiculous example of education being a cornerstone of a McCain-Palin administration isn't viable. McCain has one of the worst records on education spending/advancement and has voted down nearly every bill that would raise standards and provide additional opportunities like pre-K and after school programs.

So while the Republicans are spinning Palin's performance as a victory, the truth is she did nothing to prove her qualifications and grasp of the issues. Send this hockey mom back to the $15 million ice rink she built in Wasilla so we can get on with the serious business of turning this country around.



beingajoe said...

Thank you for this very well thought out and laid out post. I share you opinions, but what is scary is that so many Americans fall the "appearance" of answering. Some blogers are declaring it a Palin victory. I am going to social news your post on: Sarah Palin Joe Biden CNN Vice President Debate Coverage crowd powered news for the Barack Obama nation

petesmith71 said...

I think the tv talking heads were all wet with their post-debate analysis of Palin. Her performance last nite was the most embarrassingly lightweight of any I've ever witnessed on the national political stage. As her debate performance is processed over the next day or two, I imagine we'll see comedy sketches and you tube clips parodying her comically transparent evasions, her circular 'wall of words' responses and her mangling of the word 'nuclear' to a degree that would make even 'W' seem articulate by comparison.