Posts Tagged ‘Biden’




Exit, pursued by a bear

Exit, pursued by a bear

Full recap of the evening to come later…

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Here’s a few things to keep you entertained while I try to get through The Division of Labor in Society and conjugate regular -ir verbs.

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Palin’s debate strategy was dog-whistle white rural populism. Pure and simple Nixon playbook. Worked for him, worked for Reagan (Philadelphia and the welfare queens, set in the context of a long, racist record.) Race is significant but it isn’t everything: Bush Sr. could pull off the racism but couldn’t fake folksy next to Bubba Clinton. It’s a 2-part game essentially:

1) I am like you

2) They are not like us

The first part is the aw-shucks shit-kickin’ Where I’m from stuff. For the second part, they’ve added religion to the Obama equation to create a sort of compound Nation of Islam slash black liberation theology slash atheist character; (no one said it was internally coherent.)

Here’s a clarification: This approach is different from economic populism. Why? Economic populism can be translated directly into policy. Whether you agree or disagree with the arguments, saying CEO’s make too much money or that oil companies don’t need tax cuts is policy-translatable. If you talk about the middle class in your home town in terms of putting pay caps in the bailout or changing the tax structure, you can campaign on those details. And it’s a fair debate as to whether they’re good policies.

But this isn’t about that, this is I was born in a small town for everyday hard-workin’ ‘muricans from Main Street. It’s instinctively anti-intellectual, blames “eastern elites” for most everything, and features bow-tied pundits and New Yorkers unironically whining about “cosmopolitanism.” (PS this historically means “Jews.”) The leading lights of the party attack community organizers, and the party insists there’s no racial overtones even while the Pied Piper of Douchebaggery compares the profession to “thugs.”

Palin brought out I am like you in full force last night. (She didn’t bring They aren’t like us for two reasons: First, it works better in TV ads and speeches where it can’t be directly challenged; and second, obviously Biden is not the target.) So wrap yourself in a flag and a tractor for some highlights from the debate transcript:

…Joe Six-pack…

…hockey moms…

…let’s do what our parents told us…

…middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives…

…Main Streeters like me….

…great American hero General Petraeus…

… dictators who hate America and hate what we stand for, with our freedoms…

…Oh, yeah, it’s so obvious I’m a Washington outsider….

…we need a little bit of reality from Wasilla Main Street there, brought to Washington, DC….

… god bless her, her reward is in heaven, right?…

…And 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…

…my connection to the heartland of America…

…America is a nation of exceptionalism…

…I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media…

…East Coast politicians…

…average, everyday American family like mine….

I don’t know if anyone remembers this, but watching the debate I just pictured the McCain strategists sitting around a table chanting “ONE OF US! ONE OF US!” as debate preparation.

So in terms of “winners?” I think Palin held up quite well considering they’d lowered the standards to the point where, as a friend of mine said, “the only way she can ‘lose’ is to call for the extermination of the Jews.” That said, it wasn’t a game-changer. She still looked like a student who’d pulled an all-nighter prepping for comps.

As for Senator Biden, he was fine. No runs, no hits, no errors. It wasn’t his debate to win or lose. He’s a known quantity, and no one would’ve tuned in to watch him debate Tim Pawlenty or Field Marshal Turkmenromney. The only unscripted moment was when he got choked up about being a single dad:

“The notion that somehow, because I’m a man, I don’t know what it’s like to raise two kids alone,’’ he said, “[that] I don’t know what it’s like to have a child you’re not sure is going to — is going to make it — I understand.’’

(Thing is, Biden has has cried before.)  The Senator was notably disciplined.  As Klein points out: While it may have been frustrating at times, it does speak well about Biden’s commitment to the ticket.)

So, summary? Palin beat expectations, but nothing consequential happened.

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l33t ism


Once again the media reminds us that Democratic oligarchs feed on the bones of peasant babies.  This time, it’s Jon Decker of Reuters speaking on MSNBC:

“For Joe Biden, I — you know, not that he’s not folksy, but I don’t think it helps his case when he’s making the argument on economic issues wearing French cuffs and dressed to the nines. I think that he’s really got to connect with these voters, and his background certainly is a connection.”

(Hat-tip Media Matters.)  Anchorman Chris Jansing suggests the preferred sartorial alternative:

“I’m — I was a little surprised too that he didn’t have that coat off and roll up his sleeves. We shall see how this progresses.”

I’m glad the press is keeping up with the big developing stories.

So far this election has been about bowling, arugula, and beer-sipping.  It took the dance of the seven houses for the press to realize which guy’s wife has the $500,000 monthly AMEX.  I mean, who among us didn’t confuse the black dude raised by a single mother with the House of Bourbon on his AP exam?

The stupidity of the narrative doesn’t trouble me half as much as the deja vu. We’ve seen this movie before with out-of-touch Gore and elitist, French-like windsurfer Kerry.  We know how this ends and it isn’t good.  (Unless, God willing, Gramm ex machina this time ’round.)

Race is an added factor this year, as evidenced by the troubling use of the term “uppity.” (And Westmoreland isn’t even some third-tier fake-name radio paranoid culled from the Log Cabin Nazi Party; he’s a sitting United States Congressman.)  I remember seeing someone on my teevee (Buchanan?) protesting that “uppity” is just a word like “arrogant” or “elitist” and that the word itself is race-neutral. Sure it is, but let’s play a mental game. You complete the sentence with the first word that comes to mind:

-“He’s an arrogant ___”  (sonofabitch?)
-“That guy is an elitist  ___”  (snob?”)
-“That is one uppity ___”

Let’s just say it doesn’t take a hipster racist to know what usually follows the u-word.  And if you think I’m being too sensitive, noted Black Panther David Gergen called them out on this as well.

The problem isn’t that the Republicans traffic in this nonsense; it’s that the press eats it up.  It’s never been clear to me why the press so willingly promotes the “elitist coastal liberals” trope.  Is it psychological, some self-loathing among the well-educated? (no, my dear New Republic, “east coast yuppies” don’t “sneer at the military.”)  Maybe it’s the impact of the GOP money and noise machine on the refs.  There is no easy answer, but this much is true:  When the guardians of our discourse tell us simultaneously that Obama is an elitist and that $200,000 is “middle-class,” well, some people have just forfeited their credibility in perpetuity.

For any number of reasons, the economic elites of the right are perceived as admirably aspirational while the cultural elites on the left are treated as a hostile class.  Ergo, a good chunk of voters are more resentful towards the Hollywood left for drinking chardonnay than they are towards the corporatists who kill their health insurance.  No blog post can explain this paradigm, (especially after midnight on a Tuesday,) but our Jacksonian anti-intellectualism undoubtedly plays some part.  (Aright kids, that’s your invite for the “comments” section.)

Why is acceptable that John McCain’s high school now costs $40,000 a year when Joe Biden can’t wear a French cuff shirt?  For the love of Jesus-on-Jump-Street, I own a French cuff shirt and I grew up on food stamps and once sold Socialist Worker.  (You can get them at Macy’s for $35 on sale.  French cuff shirts, not Socialist Worker.) You can also get a passable bottle of cabernet for $3, which is most certainly welcome among us proletarian elitists as the silly season marches on.

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I’m probably giving Obama’s people too much credit, but I took the timing of the text message as a belated jab at the “3 AM” ad. Although, not as good as this one:

What most people know about Biden is that he’s solid on foreign affairs and never shuts up at confirmation hearings. There’s been less talk about his domestic legislative record. Biden pretty much wrote the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, and S. 1515 (currently sitting in the Senate) has the right enemies as well. Senator Biden is a huge proponant of Amtrak, which he commutes to work on. Unfortunately, his support for the vampiric bankruptcy bill is wholly indefensible. (Sure the credit card companies are all headquartered in Delaware, but a safe-seat six-term Senator shouldn’t pander like that.) His 1994 Crime Bill, while providing useful funding for more police on the street, expanded the application of the death penalty and cut off the availability of Pell Grants to prisoners. From a purely left/right perspective, the sum of Biden’s long voting record puts him squarely in the center of the Democratic Party. He isn’t Paul Wellstone, but he isn’t Sam Nunn either.

Fivethirtyeight thinks Biden’s tactically useful with the old folks. The GOP is already hitting on his previous criticism of Obama, and they’ve got an ad out. (I have to assume Obama’s camp saw that coming and figured it’s not likely to matter more than three days after the announcement.) Biden is verbose, brash, whip-smart, and kind of a dick:

That’s the one thing that stands out about Joe Biden compared to Kaine, Bayh, Sibelius, and Reed: Joe Biden will fuck your shit up. He’s an attack dog, and it’s about time we had one of those. Obama’s post-partisan hope/change/ponies campaign was nice, but history has shown that things turn nasty right-quick. With this comparatively high-risk pick, Obama shows confidence and strengthens his Stand-up, fight-back approach.

On balance, I like this.

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There are apparently two kinds of people who send you texts at 3 am: drunkards and presidential candidates.

That being said, I can live with this choice.

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