Republican Convention 2008

Wanna Grow, Grow Up to Be, Be a Debater

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I think the one-day burst of enthusiasm about Sarah Palin has been fading here, if only among the pundit class. The new, new optimism centers on the presidential debates, where people expect two things to happen.

1) Barack Obama will get lost without his speeches and teleprompter and throw a debate to McCain.

2) Joe Biden will blunder into insulting Sarah Palin and she will mount a spirited, surprisingly knowledgeable counterrattack.

The first theory has some evidence behind it; radio host Guy Benson pointed me to stories of Obama needing a teleprompter with talking points even during a town hall meeting. It's an accepted truism here that Obama is a terrible, lightweight debater who lost every showdown with Hillary Clinton. This seems like spin: Obama's actually a perfectly adequate debater who lost every showdown with Clinton, and who doesn't get frazzled unless he's asked about one of his old political associations. The lucky thing for him is that our modern Commission on Presidential Debates fora don't go into that territory: If 270 minutes pass and Obama is never asked about Bill Ayers or Tony Rezko, he's home free.

As for Palin… look, at this point it's shredding McCain's straight talk image whenever someone from his campaign puts on an earpiece and pretends she's a decent VP pick. To wit:

For much of his long career in Washington, John McCain has been throwing darts at the special spending system known as earmarking, through which powerful members of Congress can deliver federal cash for pet projects back home with little or no public scrutiny. He's even gone so far as to publish "pork lists" detailing these financial favors.

Three times in recent years, McCain's catalogs of "objectionable" spending have included earmarks for this small Alaska town, requested by its mayor at the time—Sarah Palin.

The Washington Independent's Laura McGann is in Palin's home town, uncovering stuff like her sentiments about being mayor ("it's not rocket science") and the fact that McCain's team, all spin to the contrary, had no idea what the hell they were getting into. So it's too early to assume Palin won't be a disaster in a debate, too.

NEXT: With "Reformers" Like This, Who Needs the Status Quo?

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  1. Why do people expect politicians’ lackeys to be competent? People rise to the level of their incompetence. Anyone who has worked in a bigger company has seen fucking retards in high level, important positions. I’ve seen total idiots determining the direction of major company products. And this is in the private sector.

    Frankly, I would expect 90% of campaign workers to be cult-of-personality-struck fools and/or to have no idea what they are doing. The rest might end up as Karl Rove types (and really, do we know how politically savvy he truly is?).

  2. Obama tied Hillary in some of the later debates.

    The last one, which he lost pretty convincingly, sticks in people’s minds because it was the most recent, and because it was a month or more after the others.

    I don’t think you can organize basements full of neighborhood people, or be people’s favorite law professor, or get elected to Congress from an urban district, if you can’t speak well in real time, without notes.

  3. I’m not sure the earmarking is going to be a big deal. Lots of politicians can decry the way things are, but say that since it is that way, we have to play by the rules or else we’re not doing our job. Especially as a local politician. She can’t end earmarks, and since they do exist, why not exploit them?

  4. Joe Biden will blunder into insulting Sarah Palin and she will mount a spirited, surprisingly knowledgeable counterrattack

    Unlikely but I’m pretty sure the debates this year are going to be the best since Ross Perot call Bush senior the “Potato Chip Man.”

  5. “uncovering stuff like her sentiments about being mayor (“it’s not rocket science”) and the fact that McCain’s team, all spin to the contrary, had no idea what the hell they were getting into.”

    You know Matt it is not? Just what the hell do you mean by that other than to just repeat MSM conventional wisdom?

  6. Biden will lose the debate the moment Palin faces the camera, takes off her glasses and undoes her hair with a shake of her head, all on super slo motion.

  7. Now, last dude, he’ll lose it when the camera cuts to his Jerry Lewis-esque reaction shot.

  8. Kerry blew Bush out of the water in 2/3 debates last year. Didn’t really change much.

    I think Biden/Palin will be a Bentsen/Quayle re-run.

  9. Biden will lose the debate the moment Palin faces the camera, takes off her glasses and undoes her hair with a shake of her head, all on super slo motion.

    If she does the “Phoebe Cates coming out the pool” from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the whole election is done.

  10. Er, last TIME not last YEAR.

  11. You know Matt it is not? Just what the hell do you mean by that other than to just repeat MSM conventional wisdom?

    Great…come to a board looking for stimulating opinion and what do we get? Another angry MSM Victimologist.

    The acronym “MSM” has no cache anymore. Fox News, Talk Radio and Comedy Central are now every bit as mainstream as NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN.

    Many Right wing bloggers get more hits than the New York Times. There’s been more stuff about Palin on Politico and NRO online than there’s been on NPR.

    It’s 2008…not 1999. Get a new and accurate straw man to whine about.

  12. Kerry blew Bush out of the water in 2/3 debates last year. Didn’t really change much.

    It probably swung the polls 2-3 points. Kerry had been trending down before the debates, and they turned things around.

    But as you say, that was an extreme blowout, bigger than anything we’re likely to see this year.

  13. Kerry blew Bush out of the water in 2/3 debates last year. Didn’t really change much

    Kerry lost the debates not on substance but by poking at Cheney’s gay daughter one to many times. Just like this Preggo Palin thing, it was something for Republicans to whine about and make the dems look like they’re picking on someone.

  14. Yeah, losing debates is only about polishing image and respectability, and not about policies candidates apply to the office.

  15. In roughly 1996, I saw McCain lose a debate to Ken Shamrock (of Ultimate Fighting fame), so Obama isn’t exactly going up against Henry Clay either.

  16. This is pretty funny. Mike Murphy and Peggy Noonan in an off mic moment saying what they really think of Palin:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrG8w4bb3kg

    Shorter version:

    Murphy says “fuck that” and Noonan says the election is “over” for McCain.

  17. Biden will lose the debate the moment Palin faces the camera, takes off her glasses and undoes her hair with a shake of her head, all on super slo motion.

    Nice going, now an Enlightened Male is going to show up and be all outraged and faggy.

  18. The Volokh Conspiracy has a sampling of Palin’s debate skillz.

  19. I’m outraged!

  20. I think Biden/Palin will be a Bentsen/Quayle re-run.

    But not the way you think. Palin wins when she tells Biden he’s no Neil Kinnock.

  21. I’m outraged!

    And faggy. Don’t forget faggy.

  22. Kerry lost the debates not on substance but by poking at Cheney’s gay daughter one to many times. Just like this Preggo Palin thing, it was something for Republicans to whine about and make the dems look like they’re picking on someone.

    That was Gore poking Cheney’s. Kerry’s downfall was the vet’s who like a deserter better than a war hero.

  23. Don’t say Whoo Hoo or palin will use it in her next speech.

    She is no Hillraiser —try Hilljack

    She was first for a bridge to nowhere she knows we can read what she did on the internet.
    She should not have slammed Obama at least he can talk.

  24. Nice Pixies song reference in the title.

  25. McCain has found the right VP, b/c we all know Bush will need a new Drinking Partner, Palin husband. They both have DUI’s in common to talk about, and at least Sarah has gun pratice and wont shoot her Attorney friend in the face like the last VP that who lived off of life support. Not to mention Alaska has the lowest High School graduation rate in the USA, well we know what the students are doing, lets see making babies? You people go on and choose McCain who’s 2 heart beats away from a flat-line and get 4 more years of High Gas Prices and little to no Health care. Why was there no discussion of how to up lift the economy? Because they want to muddy the waters, about Pro Choice, and Gay Rights. How cares about Abortions b/c it will always be someone in a back room doings those if they get out lawyed, and who cares about Gay rights when you have no health care, no food and no gas in your car to drive, Not McCain and Palin

  26. Roffle. Kirvi, you’re like the evil LoneWacko.

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