[Springboard] The British take on the VP debate

James Wiegel jfwiegel at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 9 09:29:26 EDT 2008

I find this cartoon from the New Yorker very helpful re:  Kenneth Boulding.  At a deep level, we have lost a functioning image of what is going on -- we are seeing different pieces, but . . . The image that has grown over the last several decades has been something like, trust those of us at the top and it will all work out -- hence the inability of either candidate to answer the question about sacrifice -- and at the top meant all the managers, executives, etc.  Both candidates can only answer what they / the federal government will do for us.

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--- On Wed, 10/8/08, W. J. <synergi at yahoo.com> wrote:

From: W. J. <synergi at yahoo.com>
Subject: [Springboard] The British take on the VP debate
To: oe at wedgeblade.net, dialogue at wedgeblade.net, "springboard email list" <springboard at wedgeblade.net>
Date: Wednesday, October 8, 2008, 4:28 PM

I'm still trying to digest the enormity of the Republican meltdown. Especially since Republican deregulation has taken down our global financial system with it.
Either McCain is so incredibly stuck in some kind of Reaganism that he's totally blind to global reality, or he's so totally cynical that he has knowingly bowed to Karl Rove and chosen Sarah Palin to literally take his candidacy and his party down in flames. The anti-Palin reaction among undecided and independent voters is a major negative, and one of many major negatives, for the entire ticket. What could he be thinking? And if he's NOT thinking, what does that say about his ability to rise above Palin's level of critical analysis of global/national trends?
And now for some refreshing Brit wisdom:

 The British take on the VP debate 

Apparently the Brits don't have their heads in the sand!   

  Flirting her way to victory 

Sarah Palin's farcical debate performance lowered the standards for both  
female candidates and US political discourse 

The Guardian (London)  Friday October 03 2008 18:30 BST 
 At  least   three  times  last  night,  Sarah  Palin,  the  adorable,  
preposterous  vice-presidential candidate, winked at the audience. Had a  
male  candidate  with  a similar reputation for attractive vapidity made  
such  a  brazen attempt to flirt his way into the good graces of the  
voting  public,  it  would  have universally noted, discussed and mocked.  
Palin,  however, has single-handedly so lowered the standards both for  
female candidates and American political discourse that, with her  
newfound  ability to speak in more-or-less full sentences, she is now  
deemed to have performed acceptably last night. By   any   normal  
standard,  including  the  ones  applied  to  male presidential  
candidates  of  either party, she did not. Early on, she made  the  
astonishing  announcement  that  she  had  no intentions of actually  
answering  the  queries  put  to  her. "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,"  
she said. 

And so she preceded, with an almost surreal disregard for the subjects she  
was  supposed to be discussing, to unleash fusillades of scripted attack  
lines,  platitudes,  lies, gibberish and grating references to her own  
pseudo-folksy authenticity. 
It  was  an  appalling  display.  The  only  reason  it was not widely  
described  as such is that too many American pundits don't even try to  
judge  the  truth,  wisdom or reasonableness of the political rhetoric  
they  are  paid to pronounce upon. Instead, they imagine themselves as  
interpreters  of  a mythical mass of "average Americans" who they both  
venerate and despise. 
In  pronouncing  upon a debate, they don't try and determine whether a  
candidate's responses correspond to existing reality, or whether he or she  
is  capable of talking about subjects such as the deregulation of the  
financial markets or the devolution of the war in Afghanistan. The  
criteria  are  far  more  vaporous. In this case, it was whether Palin  
could  avoid  utterly  humiliating herself for 90 minutes, and whether  
urbane  commentators  would believe that she had connected to a public  
that  they  see  as ignorant and sentimental. For the Alaska governor,  
mission accomplished. 

There  is  indeed  something  mesmerising  about Palin, with her manic  
beaming  and  fulsome  confidence  in  her own charm. The force of her  
personality managed to slightly obscure the insulting emptiness of her  
answers   last  night.  It's  worth  reading  the  transcript  of  the  
encounter,  where it becomes clearer how bizarre much of what she said  
was. Here, for example, is how she responded to Biden's comments about how  
the   middle  class  has  been  short-changed  during  the  Bush  
administration, and how McCain will continue Bush's policies: 

     Say  it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. 
     You   preferenced   [sic]   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? ... My brother, who 
     I  think  is  the  best  schoolteacher  in  the  year, and here's a 
     shout-out  to  all  those  third  graders at Gladys Wood Elementary 
     School, you get extra credit for watching the debate. 

Evidently,   Palin's  pre-debate  handlers  judged  her  incapable  of  
speaking  on a fairly wide range of subjects, and so instructed to her to  
simply  disregard  questions that did not invite memorised talking points  
or cutesy filibustering. They probably told her to play up her spunky  
average-ness,  which  she  did  to  the  point of shtick - and dishonesty.  
Asked  what  her achilles heel is - a question she either didn't  
understand  or  chose to ignore - she started in on how McCain chose  her  
because  of  her  "connection to the heartland of America. Being  a  mom,  
one  very  concerned  about  a son in the war, about a special  needs  
child,  about  kids heading off to college, how are we going to pay those  
tuition bills?" 

None  of  Palin's  children,  it  should  be  noted, is heading off to  
college.  Her  son is on the way to Iraq, and her pregnant 17-year-old  
daughter  is  engaged  to  be  married  to  a  high-school dropout and  
self-described  "fuckin'  redneck".  Palin  is  a woman who can't even  
tell  the truth about the most quotidian and public details of her own  
life,  never  mind  about  matters of major public import. In her only  
vice-presidential debate, she was shallow, mendacious and phoney. What  
kind  of maverick, after all, keeps harping on what a maverick she is?  
That  her performance was considered anything but a farce doesn't show how  
high Palin has risen, but how low we all have sunk. 

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