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Monday, October 6, 2008

VP debate

First, a few notes:
1. Go to
I have often wondered about third parties and why a society that prides itself on extensive freedoms would limit itself to two parties. Also, look at the role of corporate America. Interesting stuff. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I found this enlightening.

2. The bailout bill. This has been touted as democracy at work and working together and I’d add business as usual. This thing is massively expensive and provides no real plan for resolving anything or how to use the money and is loaded with earmarks engineered to bribe certain Congress people to vote yes. McCain had a chance to take a different stand and act on his anti-earmark rhetoric, but I guess his campaign couldn’t risk a possible hit he may have taken for opposing it at all for any reason. So much for standing up when it’s not popular and putting country first. Or is voting yes to the imperfect bill putting country first? I love how this is such an emergency that Congress can’t be bothered with things like addressing the cause of the problem and putting some reigns and instruction on how the money is used, but it’s obviously not so serious that they didn’t have time to put in some nice fat earmarks.


I made some notes during the VP debate, but didn't have time to put them here til now. Here's a few of them. I hope to finish it up before the next Presidential debate- which doesn't give me much time! And again, I'm posting old news!

SNL said it best- “…and the winner is- whoever you already liked!”

Seems like Palin exceeded many people’s expectations. I think she may have pumped the right back up because they were looking for something to be pumped about. There were no awkward silences or glaringly obvious gaffes, as in the interviews, but I didn’t see much to get all excited about. Most of the time when I listened to her answers, I couldn’t remember what the question was because she wasn’t on topic. Sometimes it seemed like she was giving a speech and running down the talking points, instead of responding to questions. Palin went back to tax cuts once and energy several times instead of answering the questions. And then, after going back to energy several times, the next question was about… energy! Unbelievable. And when she said the piece about the fact that she may not answer the question the way you like (trying to give the impression that she‘s taking a stand and doing what‘s right in the face of opposition), etc- wow- I was thinking it would be nice if you’d just answer the question at hand! She probably did better in this format because there really wasn’t time or opportunity for anyone to call her out on not answering questions in most cases, unlike when talking to a pesky gotcha journalist.

Palin managed to fit in every nickname and slogan of the entire campaign into that 90 mintues. Joe six pack, hockey mom, maverick, country first, change is coming, drill baby drill. Convenient and folksy, maybe, but answers they are not. Didn’t hear anything about lipstick… ☺

What was up with the winking? People didn’t like Gore’s sighs in that debate, but the winking was almost as bad. And kissing at the audience—maybe she thought she was at a campaign stop talking to supporters. The shout out to the third grade class was nice, but I thought it was more of a stall tactic or a subtle effort to prove her link to the general public rather than Washington.

Biden reigned himself in pretty well. I don’t think he came off as sexist or too harsh. Was he perceived as connected or passionate enough? I don’t know. Did anyone else giggle when he kept saying “…George Bush’s” a dozen time sin a row? Maybe it’s sleep deprivation or maybe it’s a word sounding funny if you say it enough times…

Palin in her first response referred to the fact that McCain put politics aside and suspended the campaign (can you really say that, even still??) and put country first. I’d downplay that since it seemed kind of overdramatic, not necessary and perhaps the wrong thing to do (why suspend the campaign in a televised statement no less, unless to make it political, rather than just go up to Washington and do your business, if that’s your real intent?). That, among other things, makes him seem a bit erratic and calls into question his judgment.

Biden mentioned McCain and deregulation of health care, then on Wall Street and in both instances Ifill asked Palin if she’d like to respond to the “charges” against McCain and both times Palin said she wanted to talk about taxes. She did add a sentence about McCain pushing for regulations, but that hardly refuted the charges or squared the deregulation champ with his alleged push for regulation.

There was a question about bankruptcy and Palin was asked if she’d support McCain’s position. She said simply “yes, I’d support it”. That’s it. Then, she goes on talking about McCain’s bipartisan cooperation, how he put politics aside and the campaign aside to deal with the mortgage crisis. I’m sorry, but the way he handled the crisis was far from apolitical. I’d like to think he was well-intentioned, but it smacks of politics and Bush’s melodrama.

Biden did answer the debt strapped homeowner question and had a several point plan to discuss. Ifill followed up with Palin by saying John McCain doesn’t support that and asked if that was true. Plain simply answers “that’s not so.” That’s it. Then, she goes on to talk about energy with zero transition from the topic at hand. The bothersome questions were clearly getting in the way of her speech at that point.

There was a question about what is true and false about climate change. Palin dismissed the causes and focused on cleaning up the planet. Biden said what I was thinking when I heard Palin say that. You need to know the causes to think about a relevant solution.

I can’t believe she still defended McCain’s statement about the “fundamentals of the economy are strong” as referring to the workers. Unless you’re communist, you probably aren’t thinking on those terms. I think he simply slipped up. They should just stop talking about it so that it goes away. He’s said so many things like that about not knowing anything about the economy, thinking it was strong when it wasn’t (repeating Bush’s comments that made my jaw drop-see jan 28, 2008 post), choosing very questionable advisers to help him form policy on this subject he doesn’t know much about that I just don’t trust his judgment on this issue. They’ve finally let go of the Bridge to Nowhere. Maybe it’ll take time to let go of this one, too. It seems like they keep repeating some of the same gaffes (misleading accusations or embellished accomplishments), or defenses of them long after the public knows that they aren’t giving it to us straight. I don’t know what would account for the gap. Maybe they only communicate via USPS?

There was a question about the VP role that got some interesting answers. Palin said a VP presides over the Senate and that she’s glad the Constitution allows more authority given the VP if the VP so chooses to use it?? Huh? They vote when there’s a tie. Not exactly what I’d call authority or choosing to use authority. I guess they only half prepped her on that one since she last answered that question.

Let’s talk about the Israel love fest. “No one’s a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden.” That may be true, but take your head out of the sand for a minute. You’re not speaking in front of the AIPAC. You’re running for VP. You need to have a reasonable outlook (not that many Presidents and VPs have in a long time) on this. But if I don’t like the Democrats’ position on this, I’m going to hate the Republican position which can be blended with religious themes that are equally as crazy (not to mention unbiblical) as unconditional support for Israel and its state sponsored terrorism. The two state solution is falling out of favor with the people involved (or half of the people) and the situation on the ground (support for Israeli land grabs past and present, walls being built) is making a two state solution obsolete.

Palin brought up putting the embassy in Jerusalem, Israel as a peace seeking nation, its track record of peace seeking (yeah, and Ariel Sharon was a man of peace and pigs can fly), second holocaust. Insisting on the embassy in Jerusalem immediately sends the message you support Israel despite their contribution to the bloodshed and will only hamper the process, so you might as well stay out of it altogether if you take that position. About Israel and peace-seeking- they have a way of doing this on the surface, but with the motive of delaying final status issues so that they can grab more land with the goal of taking it all (google “political formaldehyde” for Weisglass’ quote on that). Enough with the second holocaust scare tactics already! Israel’s got one of the world’s strongest militaries and a history of ruthless leaders. You can’t convince me of their vulnerability, existential threat or their need for our continued assistance, free from any conditions to respect our laws and human rights by invoking old images of gas chambers.

Biden said he didn’t support the Palestinian elections because he knew Hamas would take over. Had all of the elections been allowed to be conducted around the same time, Hamas probably wouldn’t have won in the second batch. The US position of only supporting democratic elections when the outcome is favorable to us also contributed to the Gaza mess. We should either support democracy (like we claim to) or stay out of all of it.

Biden didn’t inspire confidence when he didn’t talk about Jerusalem. Obama had taken the Bush position of essentially giving it to Israel, no questions asked.

Both candidates are taking Bush’s position or maybe even a farther right, more hawkish position.

Palin called Obama/Biden “white flag of surrender in Iraq” which I think is not true and could be a misrepresentation or exaggeration.

Biden deserves some credit for overcoming personal tragedy, much like McCain. I really hadn't heard about Biden's as much as McCain's, so that was interesting and adds a new dimension to his character for me.

On the question of what would you change or cut from your plans due to the debt problem posed by the crisis, the VP candidates passed on this as the Presidential candidates did. I just don’t think you can get an answer from a candidate when you ask about cutting the plan or even about their Achilles heel. Those answers were rather comical. Palin responded to the lack of experience as a weakness (or if that’s not it, what is) question by saying she in fact has the executive experience and business experience and mom experience and that with being reform minded is why she’s on a good ticket. The closest she got to answering the question was saying that we as a nation aren’t perfect.

Biden did better in that he admitted to having an Achilles heel – lack of discipline or “excessive passion”, but didn’t really talk about what that means or how to deal with it in terms of being the VP. He used the time really to respond to Palin’s answer which was actually the opposite of the question asked. Biden does deserve some credit for his life experience. That is an unimaginable situation he was in and he got through it. He made a good point and maybe was smart to respond to Palin’s mom experience with his own. It was a bit comical to hear him try and out-mom her, though, with this and the violence against women legislation. I wonder how the public in general took it- did they feel a connection and sympathy or think it political?

Palin did have a little problem when she called McKeirnan McClellan and misquoted him (as did Biden?). She said that he said the surge would work in Afghanistan and I don’t think that’s what he said.

Palin mischaracterized Obama’s plan as government-run, even called it a mandate

Palin’s last remarks took a shot at the media for her shortcomings in the Gibson and Couric interviews. The filter of mainstream media?? Was she not talking to us in the televised interview? I didn’t see anyone telling us what we saw. I saw someone asking her questions she wasn’t prepared to answer- like a kid on a pop quiz who didn’t read the book. Maybe what she means by “talking directly to the people” is that she’d rather give a pre-fab speech rather than answer questions on the spot. I can totally understand that, but it’s not the media’s fault for how she performed in the interviews. They were pretty basic policy questions. The only thing that would have been more softball would be if they asked her how she felt to be running as the woman candidate, how she feels about x, y or z.

Palin’s use of Biden’s past quotes:
I wanted to do some fact checking on these things where she threw Biden’s own words at him, but I may not get to it. I don’t think she has these things exactly right, but I’d have to check. It sounds somewhat factual, but with the effort to mislead and misrepresent.

Now you said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic.
I was surprised to hear you mention that because you had said that there isn't anything -- such a thing as clean coal. And I think you said it in a rope line, too, at one of your rallies.
Barack Obama voted against funding troops there after promising that he would not do so.
PALIN: And Senator Biden, I respected you when you called him out on that. You said that his vote was political and you said it would cost lives.
We'll know when we're finished in Iraq when the Iraqi government can govern its people and when the Iraqi security forces can secure its people. And our commanders on the ground will tell us when those conditions have been met. And Maliki and Talabani also in working with us are knowing again that we are getting closer and closer to that point, that victory that's within sight.

Now, you said regarding Senator McCain's military policies there, Senator Biden, that you supported a lot of these things. In fact, you said in fact that you wanted to run, you'd be honored to run with him on the ticket, and that's an indication I think of some of the support that you had at least until you became the VP pick here.

You also said that Barack Obama was not ready to be commander in chief. And I know again that you opposed the move that he made to try to cut off funding for the troops and I respect you for that. I don't know how you can defend that position now, but I know that you know especially with your son in the National Guard and I have great respect for your family also and the honor that you show our military. Barack Obama though, another story there. Anyone I think who can cut off funding for the troops after promising not to is another story.
Ifill’s question:
…you said in July that someone would have to explain to you exactly what it is the vice president does every day. You, senator, said, you would not be vice president under any circumstances (Palin apparently thought we’d believe she was joking and we have to take him at his word even though when you’re running for President, I don’t guess there’s any room for pondering, “hmm, if I lose, I really, really want to be VP”.)

*** *** ***
On the SNL VP debate…which I watched online since I can’t seem to stay up anymore…

I loved how they zinged Biden on the Scranton thing and Palin on the Couric interviews- It’s good to be here without the filter of the gotcha media with their fact checking, follow up questions, and the need to figure out what your words mean and why you put them in that order.

I really should have seen the last joke coming with the Joe six pack and maverick self labeling abound, but I nearly blew my tea all over the computer. It was the wink, I think.

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