Posts Tagged ‘Joe Biden will cut you just for livin’’

On this blog I try my best to talk in an adult-like indoor voice because I think this is usually the most prodictive way to foster thoughtful discussion. The reason I did not liveblog the VP debate was because it is virtually impossible for me to be thoughtful during this type of head on political combat. I watched the spectacle at the Johnson Center–It was very reassuring to feel that the crowd was with us when my U is known for being among the most right of center in the area. The following is a disordered summation of my reaction.

  • My girl Gwen did a marvelous job. She allowed the discussion to flow organically and asked some legitimately intriguing questions, my favorite being ‘which issue have you rethought during your time in office?” I think Biden demonstrated a degree of intellectual honesty that is admirable in any person and absolutely remarkable in a politician. His answer was nuanced, detailed and a refreshing snippet in an overwhelmingly tiresome 90 minutes.
  • Palin came off as being a folksy caricature–the sort that a satirist would dream up to demonstrate the outlandishness of the country fried GOP persona (that is not a good thing). As Salon’s War Room put it: “she is very good at dropping words and phrases like ‘darn’ and ‘straight up’ and other very folksy terms that try to personalize her. Does it undermine her seriousness or does it make her more accessible? My gut says women cringe because it makes her look less serious, like she has to be cutesy and cheeky to be likeable. But I wonder if men find it attractive because of their own gender lens.”
  • Both were able to fit their talking points in rather consistently, but Biden was able to fit them in with surprising spontaneity. Palin on the other hand seemed excessively coached, repeating that loathsome tax meme ad nauseum.
  • NUMBERS. Joe Biden loves them. He used them early, often and unapologetically.
  • ISREAL. Allow me to express my ambivalence towards that whole thing. Pause. Thank you.
  • There are venues where winking is appropriate–public transportation, first dates, bank heist–A vice presidential debate is not one of them.
  • Nuclear. It is really not that difficult. Do politicians think they get Mainstreet cred if they mispronounce this?
  • American Exceptionalism, Reagan, City on the Hill. Argh.
  • Joe Biden’s show of paternal emotion was a sincere and remarkably effective counter to Palin’s hockey mom rhetoric. It reminds us that women do no have a monopoly on nurturing.
  • He did not come off as a bully or over bearing. His fruitcake dense freestyles were a great contrast to the unintelligible spongecake responses offered by his opponents.
  • Also, thank you Joe for understanding the constitution, knowing the limitations of the role of the vice presidency and being willing to talk about genocide.

This was not a “game changer”, vice presidential debates never are. However, I think it did effectively propel Biden back into the national media spot light which will make his campaigning more effective overall. Also, it reminded anyone who had forgotten that this man knows his shit. Palin was not the dunce cap wearing yeehaw that Tina Fey plays on SNL, but the fact that she showed up with her mental faculties in order was simply not enough to change the narrative of her competence or turn the tide of increasingly negative public opinion.

Oh, and I almost forgot…

That’s why we say Joe Biden will cut you just for livin’.

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(Not in the order they went.)

-A lot of good things are being said about Hillary the other night.  I will admit I didn’t care for it the first time, but on second viewing she made a better impression. She certainly had the ratings (26 million says Neilson,) and conservative columnist John Fund called it “the best speech of her career.” And, as Mireille noted, they handled the rollcall just fine.

-Governor Warner was terrible. I have to agree with Pat Buchanan on this one (!) – All that post-partisan talk is fine for governing but not for getting elected. For four days, expect the GOP to slander Barack Hussein Osama (oops!) while trashing elitist liberals, limousine liberals, latte-drinking liberals, effete liberals, coastal liberals, Ivy League liberals, I can go on but you get the point. At the same time, Republicans have controlled the White House for the last 7 years, the House for 6 of those and the Senate for 4, and finally scored a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court. So yes, it does matter whether an idea comes from right or left. Yes, it does matter whether you call someone a Democrat or a Republican. As cute as it may be to govern by consensus in Virginia, it amounts to unilateral disarmament in a national campaign. Warner certainly didn’t help his 2012 credentials with his combination of Yaaaay hard-working Americans, non-partisan pablum, and weird Olympic-themed China-baiting. Bad on Warner, though I’m sure he’ll make a fine, technocratic Senator.

-Bill, well, here’s the beginning of Bill’s transcript as published in the non-partisan Congressional Quarterly:

CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen…


Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. You all sit down. We’ve got to get on with the show here. Come on.


Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be here tonight.


Sit down.


Thank you. Thank you very much.


Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


I am honored to be here tonight. Please, stop.

AUDIENCE: Bill! Bill! Bill!

CLINTON: Please stop. Sit down. Sit down. Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Bill! Bill! Bill!

CLINTON: Please sit. Please sit.

You know, I — I love this, and I thank you, but we have important work to do tonight. I am here first to support Barack Obama.


And, second — and, second, I’m here to warm up the crowd for Joe Biden…


Bill was the Big Dog last night. We progressives may dislike Penn, McAuliffe, government by focus group, the DLCers, a track record of burn-it-down campaigning, you name a problem and the Dean/Pelosi wing of the party has it with Bill. But man can he preach it. “People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.”  That’s the best of Bubba.

-Beau Biden, Captain Beau Biden, made the first of what promise to be many appearances on the national stage. Introducing his father, Biden delivered populism (“…turns down some fancy cocktail party in Washington so he won’t miss my daughter Natalie’s birthday party”), pathos (his mother’s death,) and policy (from the Violence Against Women Act to the Balkans.) For a six minute introductory speech, it was pitch perfect.  Right-winger Michael Barone called him “genuine and moving.” Beau Biden is your Democratic front-runner for 2028, you heard it here first.

-Joe followed with a substantially negative speech. It was time for someone to attack, and that’s Biden’s strong suit. He opened with the expected complements of his Senate colleague, and then proceeded the stick the knife in. Full transcript and video here. Shorter version: John McCain is a friend of mine; John McCain is wrong about everything.

-A note then on Brian Schweitzer, the bolo-tied teddy bear. Schweitzer went on before Hillary on Tuesday, a choice designed to maximize his exposure to a national audience. Following the tepid Mark Warner, the Democratic Governor of Montana grabbed the crowd with his High School pep rally enthusiasm. Schweitzer focused on energy issues, dropping rhymes like “coal gasification with carbon sequestration.” David Sirota collected the approving reviews:

“The Los Angeles Times said Schweitzer “was the surprise hit of the party’s national convention” garnering “rave reviews for [the] rousing speech.” Newsweek called him the “highlight” of the night. And the Denver Post reported that CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin declared “Schweitzer the night’s real winner, the Barack Obama of ’08, for his impassioned speech.”

(Video here.)  Schweitzer’s Montana is 58%-29% “right-track,” and with approval ratings consistently hovering around 70% his November re-election is a lock. Schweitzer support for gun rights leads moderates to claim him, but his ideology is old-school populist left — complete with tent-revival style:

Before nearly any professional politician had done so, for instance, Schweitzer organized the first bus trips to Canada to help seniors purchase lower-priced prescription drugs. Invited to Washington for a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser, Schweitzer stood up at the event, broke Washington’s unspoken protocol, and ripped into drug industry lobbyists, many of whom were in the room. While Sen. Bob Torricelli (D-N.J.) immediately tried to apologize to the crowd, Schweitzer’s rant became the stuff of legends back in Montana.

(Sirota has the rest here.) Schweitzer is pro-choice, strong on energy issues, a winner on civil liberties, an epic winner on civil liberties, and wants his National Guard back. There’s a reason I tossed his name at people for Vice President, and the cats over at Fivethirtyeight had similar things to say.

So Obama tonight, no pressure. And please, please, his campaign people can’t be this stupid, can they? (You’ll also get President Gore for the price of admission.)

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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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