Posts Tagged ‘“Maverick” is a synonym for “asshole”’

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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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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Chris Cilizza of the Washington Post reports:

Although the fate of tonight’s presidential debate in Mississippi remains very much up in the air, John McCain has apparently already won it — if you believe an Internet ad an astute reader spotted next to this piece in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal this morning.

“McCain Wins Debate!” declares the ad which features a headshot of a smiling McCain with an American flag background. Another ad spotted by our eagle-eyed observer featured a quote from McCain campaign manager Rick Davis declaring: “McCain won the debate– hands down.”

Screen-grab here.

Senator McCain is running for Potemkin Village Council.

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The Obama camp replied:

“It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls – a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds. Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn’t define what honor was. Now we know why.”

Oh. Fuckin’. Snap.

Frankly, the American people ought to be insulted by this kind of thing.

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A friend of mine that shall go unnamed had, “is hoping that McCain’s VP choice won’t make the heads of feminists explode with confusion…that will be quite the cleanup effort” as his Facebook status yesterday. I was annoyed to say the least. I think it was the use to the word “feminist” in particular that got to me – Do people have such a low opinion of people who identify as feminist as to think we would be guiled by the militantly antichoice Palin simply by virtue of her womanhood?

Well the GOP thought so, which is exactly why she’s on the ticket. As Adam Serwer on TAPPED put it

The pick of Palin is dripping with transparent condescension, the notion that the enthusiasm behind Hillary was simply the result of her being a woman, that it had nothing to do with what she actually stood for, and in that sense it’s equally sexist. Palin is essentially a hard-right ideologue, and therefore nothing like Hillary as far as substance is concerned. It’s not very different from running Alan Keyes against Barack Obama in 2004. The conservative media reaction has already engaged in paternalistic language, with FOX News reporting on television that “McCain broke the glass ceiling,” implying in fact, that the pick had nothing to do with Palin or her qualifications, but merely her gender. It’s fitting that the party positing affirmative action as a program that picks people exclusively based on race or gender rather than qualification should do something similar given an opportunity for political advancement.

It is also worth noting that Palin is a member of the Faux-Feminist organization Feminist for Life, an anti-choice organization that swaddles itself with the rhetoric of empowerment while all the while shaming women out of their rights. She’s on record as being against abortion even if her own daughter were raped. Fittingly, Palin is against universal healthcare.

When the women the GOP are trying to woo realize that this is simply pandering of the worst kind, Palin will perhaps become a liability.  Ann Friendmen put it aptly when she said: “After all, most of us understand that a woman candidate is not the same thing as a woman’s candidate.”  Then again, it’s very doubtful the media will run with this narrative when they have a god-fearing maverick beauty queen with a gun. Never mind that she has no clue what vice president even does.

Daily Kos has a great round up of other reasons Palin was an abysmal choice. After my panic yesterday, I feel much more secure that Obama will pull it out in the end. Yes we can; yes we will.

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Your morning Washington Post:

With VP Pick, McCain Reclaims Maverick Image

ANALYSIS | Choice of little-known Gov. Sarah Palin is a bold move to rally base and lure swing voters but could stymie effort to cast Obama as unready.

Dan Balz

Well fuck. me.

MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 29 — John McCain‘s advisers predicted weeks ago that the presumptive Republican nominee would use his national convention week to try to recapture his image as a maverick reformer and shake up the presidential race. He did just that Friday with his surprise choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate.

CNN did it too:

updated 18 minutes ago

Palin: Pioneer, maverick — and now game-changer

Hell, even PBS brought out “Palin has ‘Maverick’ Credentials Similar to McCain.”

Get ready for two months of mavericky goodness, which should allow her to get away with shit like this.  I mean it’s certainly not unprecedented now is it?

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