Friday, October 3, 2008

Who won the VP debate?

I should note, before beginning, that I am a registered democrat, which means I am a communist who is always on drugs, hates America and freedom, hates babies and our troops, and feels joy when America loses as something. Just kidding. I'm just disclosing the democrat thing to disclose my initial leanings. Ahem...,

Alright, it's been a few hours since I watched the Veep debate. The dust has settled. I went drinking for a while. Things are as they ought to be.

But now I come back and I discover that maybe this debate didn't go, in the minds of those watching, the same way it went in my mind.

Let me put this in context. I watched this debate, and I saw a woman repeating talking points in an obvious way. The clearest case in point being the discussion of Obama's naivete, a word I'm guessing Palin has never said before last week. Or, at least, a word she's never pronounced as she pronounced it tonight.

The reason I think this? She used the word within a few minutes of using the word nukular. Not nuclear. Nukular. A person who says "nukular" does not also say "nigh-eve-eh-tay."

In my mind, she was a bit like a robot or recording machine, save for the insanely irritating moment when she grinned really big and wide after she thought she'd caught Biden in a gaffe.

Also, I had a great deal of trouble following anything she said. I definitely thought I was witnessing a lot of confused rambling.

Meanwhile, I thought Biden did an incredible job. Not only did he talk in clear sentences, but he actually pointed to specifics. He mentioned some actual things that would probably have to be cut because of this bailout. He was willing to point to a misconception or mistaken belief he'd had as a senator. He was, amazingly, genuine, which is a fair sight better than anything Palin, McCain, or Obama had done up to this point.

And yet, now that I return from the bars, I discover that a lot of people completely disagree with me. People, admittedly on conservative websites, are talking about how Palin wiped the floor with Biden. How she connected with people at a gut level. How she was honest and straightforward and had Biden on the ropes, cowering in the corner.

When I'd finished watching the debate, I was trying to be impartial. (Obviously, not to other people. To other people I was saying exactly what I thought.) But mentally I considered the debate and had figured that the thing was probably a tie. Honestly, before going into this debate, a democrat's best hope was for a tie. If Biden had gone in, guns blazing, attacking the crap out of Palin, he'd have been wildly castigated by both the media and the public. The veep debate of 1984 taught us that you cannot be mean to a female candidate in a debate. The nation will respond poorly.

So Biden, if you recall, did not spend a single moment attacking Palin directly. Instead, he spent his entire time going after McCain. Indeed, the only person to really highlight the differences between Palin and McCain was Palin herself.

Under that kind of scrutiny, Biden's only hope was to continue beating down McCain and placing himself in the best light he could. This I thought he did.

I've already expressed my views on Palin's performance. She did a decent enough job with what she had to work with, but there was nothing interesting or exceptional about her efforts.

And yet, now I discover a large chunk of America not only disagrees with my actual opinion, but also with my attempt at an impartial opinion. This concept borders on shocking to me.

But maybe it shouldn't. Maybe this is the very definition of what a polarized nation is. It isn't only that we have differing opinions on what is happening and what should be happening. It's also that we have differing views on what has already happened. We focus on different moments. We remember different things.

Here was my focus:

My favorite thought suggested by Biden was one that most people probably completely dismissed. He said, to paraphrase, that the way he'd try to draw both sides of Washington together was to throw out preconceptions about motive. In other words, he would go in believing that every person in Washington truly DID want to help America and truly did want to make a positive difference in the world.

Instead of believing in the inherent good or bad in a person, he would assume good in all and seek only to determine why the judgment of both sides differed.

I really thought that was an unusually uplifting ideal, as we sit here, a month away from one of the more contentious votes in our nation's history, and it is one that I will hopefully keep in mind as we move along.



Anonymous said...

Democrats Suck! (With a capital S in case you missed that). I like Palin...she has good hair and great clothes. Okay, just kidding, just thought I'd rile some people up with inane statements about how I'd vote for someone based solely on superficial features. But seriously, did you check out her shoes b/c they were CUTE:) Kay

N. J. Thomas said...

Actually, I noticed her shoes too. They were some good shoes. Vaguely Dorothy Gale from Kansas shoes.

Kathleen said...

Cute shoes was hard for me to be impartial, because the more I hear about Palin and hear from her, the more I am afraid. I can't say I despise her, but I hate her positions on things. I thought Biden won, clearly too, Nate. So I was surprised to find out people though Palin did a good job. And maybe she did hold her own a bit - considering she's had plenty of time to prepare and practice and learn how to pronounce naivete I would expect that. But I loved Biden's view, going in believing that everyone had America's people in heart. I don't believe that but I admire him for trying and maybe it would work. He would know I suppose if it has.
But everytime something folksy popped out of her mouth (which I guess people like) I winced. I felt talked down to. I thought she skirted points and issues and kept going back to the folksy, I'm just one of the regular people stuff. I'm sorry if it makes me an elitist but I don't want a regular person in the second chair of our nation. I know regular people, I consider myself a regular person and I wouldn't want me in that chair or the first one either!
And she did seem like a robot - I kept expecting to see one of those ear chips you see in spy movies so that the computer geeks could talk to the person inside and walk them through whatever it is they're supposed to be doing. It seemed like she had very little clue. And it was all I could do not to throw something when she was talking about dictators not respecting women's rights (which really got my attention) as though she DOES! So that might have clouded my judgement a bit after that.
I wish there were another debate...maybe I could be more impartial, but I'd like to hear more.