Friday, October 03, 2008

Sarah is back

Committed Obamniaks (to borrow from Joe Biden's use of what is apparently the term of Bosnian Muslims) are not going to like Sarah Palin's performance in last night's debate. Too folksy and not their girl. Committed conservatives liked her performance, but generally take issue with her description of the cause of the financial crisis which, while not as wrong as the Obama/Biden Bush-era deregulation argument, still creates a fundamentally flawed picture of what has happened. There certainly were ways that Wall Street could have been reined in (although I can imagine Democrats supporting none of them), but the fiasco could not have happened without government intervention in the market through the vehicles of Freddie and Fannie, easy money and well intentioned, but misguided efforts to encourage home ownership.

But such is politics. A careful and thorough public debate over economic policy is simply not going to appeal to the overwhelming majority of voters.

So, let's move to the big picture. Going into the debate, the conventional wisdom was that Palin had to show that she belongs on this stage. There is no question that she did that. There will be postdebate back and forth on who said what that isn't true. My sense is that both of them - whether intentionally or not - tool a few liberties, but that Biden's inaccuracies were less debatable, more significant and, I think, more frequent.

But I think voters expect politicians to do that. In this debate, Palin needed to rekindle the fire that she ignited in the base early on and squandered in her interviews with Gibson and Couric. She did that. She needed to remove herself as a reason not to vote for McCain. She did that as well.

The great hope - something to be wished for but not expected - was that she scuff up a Democratic ticket that has gained tremendous momentum from the financial crisis. That depends on the spin. There were certainly enough moments in which she gave Biden a good natured schooling that this could happen.

As for Biden, he performed well. He is incredibly good at gravely intoning utter nonsense. (For example, we do not spend more in three weeks on combat operations in Iraq than we have spent to date in Afghanistan. It's not even close.)

But this debate was about Sarah Palin and she came through.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, Palin won the debate by not being knocked out. She did a good job of uttering the meaningless platitudes which had been painstakingly spoon-fed to her. But the fact remains that she's a complete idiot.

Anonymous said...

Name calling will only reflect your true color of blue(dull and boring). While Sarrah did win - Take a look at the facts the joe stated at least 10 incorrect proven lies on national tv. Also these lies carry over to his canadate
Can mccain/palin refor the government spending out of control/pork spending dem's. Only time will tell if they get elected..
Obamaa/joe only promiss biger government and more spending puting the country in a very dangerous position...your vote is what will decide how this country will go. Have a good day.

Anonymous said...

The moment that Biden started crying was telling. Nothing Palin said could anyway have been construed as suggesting "that somehow, because [he's] a man, [he doesn't] know what it's like to raise two kids alone, [he doesn't] know what it's like to have a child you're not sure is going to -- is going to make it." Nonetheless, because Biden interprets everything as being about him, he somehow took it that way. What an odd guy he is.

gnarlytrombone said...

the fiasco could not have happened without government intervention in the market through the vehicles of Freddie and Fannie

Gah. As George Will demonstrated the other day, this wack hypothesis should be phrased as a rhetorical question.

That way you can maintain plausible deniability when respectable conservative economists finally catch up to this runaway urban myth and shuffle it back to the basement with Crazy Uncle Laffer and his Magic Curve.

Anonymous said...

Like that part where Biden said that the Vice-President only presides over the Senate in the case of a tie?

I think Joe would be surprised to discover that his duties as Senate President occur a bit more frequently than that under Art. I, s. 3, cl. 4.

Anonymous said...

And Ms. Palin might be surprised to discover she was not the first governor to study climate change, contrary to her statement. Or that the Alaska state income tax was abolished in 1980, and not on her watch. As a married woman, should she really be winking at millions of American men?

Jim C. said...

Before you think yourself too clever ("Look at me guys, I outsmarted Joe Biden on foreign affairs!"), you may want to check whether or not he was in fact referring to Bosnian Muslims by their name, Bosniaks.

Anonymous said...

Do we forget that this is about the far left vs. the rest of us.

Look what they have done to the House and Senate. Do we waant that in the White House as well?

Palin is no far lefty and neither is McCain.

Rick Esenberg said...

Jim C

You may be the one who is trying to get too clever. Read again. I referred to the fact that this was a term for Bosnian Muslims.

As for Gnarly, I have no idea what George Will comments that you refer to. Could it be this one?:

Suppose there had never been implicit government backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Better yet, suppose those two had never existed — there was homeownership before them, just not at a level that the government thought proper. Absent Fannie and Freddie — absent government manipulation of the housing market — would there have developed the excessive diversion of capital into the housing stock?

Anonymous said...

Although I thought Palin's weakest moment was in response to the Cheney litigation issue, and she should have had at least passing familiarity with the Constitutional provisions that create the office she is seeking (although not necessarily the arcane details of unresolved constitutional debate over those provisions), I think it's much worse to clearly be familiar with an issue but then completely bollix up the substantive facts (e.g., Art II, not Art I, sets forth legislative powers and moreover, the VP is mentioned in below), especially for someone who fancies himself a "constitutional scholar" and has served on the Judiciary Committee for decades.

Curt said...

Sara did ok, she showed she belonged on that stage. And she obviously won the debate. Fortunately she was debating Joe Biden, whom I'm fairly certain would lose a debate to a dead possum.

gnarlytrombone said...

I've created a visual aid on the excessive diversion of capital into the housing stock.

gnarlytrombone said...

Oooh. Bringing out the big, Austrian School guns to slap Fannie around. And the dude's even been on NPR!

Now we're cooking with gas.

William Tyroler said...

Biden's inaccuracies were less debatable, more significant and, I think, more frequent

This understated criticism is way too kind to Biden. For one thing, he got the VP's "legislative role" flatly wrong -- not, perhaps, a tragedy, but odd nonetheless for someone who proudly lists law prof as a qualification on his CV. The VP's constitutional function should be in Biden's wheelhouse: what does a misperception of this magnitude say about his capabilities?

For another, as seasoned Middle East journalist Michael Totten puts it: Biden said the strangest and most ill-informed thing I have ever heard about Lebanon in my life. “When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon ..." Really: is Biden's most ill-informed statement what you'd expect from someone "ready on Day One" (the litmus test sneeringly applied to Palin)?

Too many other hits on the Biden gaffe-track for me to properly document right now, but the key point is that if the Mainstream Media weren't so deep in the tank for Obama, they'd have highlighted the manifest foolishness of the error-laden Biden; and Palin's missteps wouldn't have looked so bad in comparison. If, that is, the media were doing their job instead of anointing Obama.

Jay Bullock said...

A, if you're linking to a 66-page pdf when your readers are hepped up on cold medicine and tired from a hard week and not thinking about checking the links before clicking, you should probably toss out a warning.

B, there's the references--and not just from you--to Palin's "folksiness" last night. What would the reaction have been from the pundits had Obama debated in a South-Side, African-American preacher cadence, really trying to highlight the cultural touchstones Americans look for in African Americans (though, of course, that's not Obama's background, exactly) in an effort to appear down-to-earth or more real to those watching? It wouldn't be celebrated, but rather harshly condemned as a minstrel show of inescapable enormity.

We saw Palin sans faux-folksiness in her convention speech. We know she's capable of something other than donchanos and heydares, and pretending that putting on those airs (can you call them "airs" when they're beneath you?) is actually a positive is just as insulting.

Publius said...

Sarah Palin did better in this debate simply by her presentation. When I fast-forwarded through the debate most of the time, she was head-on looking directly at the camera and straight talking.

Joe Biden was looking ominous most of the time and was speaking at Gwen Ifill.

Most public speaking courses will tell you a genuine “look-em-in-the-eyes” stance reflects sincerity.

I could not make out what dialect Palin was speaking in. It seemed like a cross between Frances McDormand’s “Marge Gunderson” in Fargo and the honking Wisconsin accent you “Cheese Heads” produce. (In the decades since leaving America’s DairyLand, I have learned to speak primarily through my mouth and not my nose).


Palin’s main impact has been to humanize the ever pale and droning appearance of John McCain. She’s a story, part hockey-mom and part beauty queen. My son’s 4th Grade teacher coached Sarah in high school basketball in Alaska and she played point guard and won the final State Small School Championship, with a clutch shot, while enduring a severely sprained ankle.

To correct Senator Biden, Hannibal Hamlin is actually the most dangerous vice president we've had. He was Lincoln’s VP and never supported Lincoln and spent most of the time out in the countryside undermining Lincoln. Inaction is more of a sin than sincere action.

John Foust said...

With only weeks that the media has been able to scrutinize Palin, and only a few interviews, you're ready to declare her safe for consumption?

We're just folks sittin' 'round the kitchen table, talkin' politics. We deserve a flirty waitress for VP! You betcha. It's the anti-meritocracy, because they're mavericks, the very symbol of the tragedy of the commons.

Prof, I was hopin' you'd someday 'splain hows you predicticated so good 'n all.

Don't fret, Publius, soon enough they'll be whitewashing Bush for posterity by blaming Cheney, too.

illusory tenant said...

utter nonsense

Not at all. Biden was quite clear that he was comparing "combat in Iraq" vs. "building Afghanistan." You can call it apples to oranges, but the figures are correct.

Even so, an apples to oranges criticism is easily rebuttable. Biden's spending priorities contemplate a shift away from combat in Iraq and toward the civil infrastructure in Afghanistan and in that context, the comparison is highly illustrative.

William Tyroler said...

We deserve a flirty waitress for VP!

Here's a tip for our sexist friends on the Left: we don't deserve for a VP a self-described lazy student all the way through law school; a serial plagiarist who, when caught in law school tried to worm his way out with a transparent lie ("inadvertent") and who, as a fully formed adult running for president adopted a British labor leader's biography as his own; who lied, when running for president, about his academic standing (he claimed to have finished in the top half of his law school class when in fact he ranked virtually at rock-bottom); a bloviator who can't seem to open his mouth without dissembling but who can count on a free pass from the mainstream media.

Or, if we're destined to get the leadership we deserve, maybe the lying liar air head with a hair plug is what we should expect. Maybe we've sunk that low. But I'll still take the "flirty waitress" any day.

gnarlytrombone said...

Yeah. Take that!

Chris said...

Was that even a debate...Palin just read of a list of talking points...but i guess she could have done worse. McCain really showed a lack of judgment in picking her for VP...being a life long McCain fan, my hand will be shaking when i vote for Obama...but Obama gets my vote.

John Foust said...

OK, Tyroler, let's talk about Obama's grades and McCain's grades, too.

William Tyroler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Tyroler said...

Foust: to the extent you think I care what grades Biden got in law school, you miss my point, which is simply that he lied about them. It just doesn't matter to me whether or not he was a stellar or mediocre law student. I believe you simply misconstrued my post. I'm concerned with his his non-stop misstatements rather than his academic performance per se.

Thanks, though, for the opportunity to think it through a bit more. I expect all politicians to lie to a greater or lesser extent and I'm not sure I hold it against Biden simply that he lied. But about his fricking grades? He suffers from an inferiority complex that deep? Toss this particular lie in with his documented plagiarism and you've got a deeply flawed character -- too bad the media aren't interested.

OTOH, perhaps you think someone's post-secondary/graduate grades do bear meaningfully on their qualifications for the White House. (Your cryptic teaser was meant to compare, I'm sure, Obama's law review editorship at HLS with McCain's (near-?)goat status at Annapolis.) I'm very doubtful that's what you're in fact saying, so I'll simply indicate my view that such preoccupation is too elitist for my tastes, for whatever that's worth. A discussion, in any event, for a different thread.