It turned out that the conservative (i.e., mainstream) media had a point when they said that they feared a tone of condescension might be set at the Vice-Presidential debate. Where they were wrong was in their insistence that it would be Joe Biden who was condescending toward Sarah Palin. Instead, it was the other way around.
Palin’s failed attempt at condescension and her insincerity toward Biden were laughable, if not sickening. Her ridiculous winks at the camera, her insistence on calling herself Joe six-pack, and her misdirected attempts at catching Biden in lies that he hadn’t told were all that she had in her very small arsenal of attack. Her dog-gone it Joe, there you go again and her simpering, condescending smiles as she said First you were for it, and then you were against it did not, however, mask her terror at being presented, politically naked, to the American people, who could judge for themselves that she could not actually answer a question with specific ideas and plans.
In answer after answer, Palin sounded as if she were a new-hire telemarketer reading from the sales pitch script to her telephone target for the first time. And she rambled and rambled and rambled but never actually said anything——at least anything of substance. Her replies were full of generalities, she kept just repeating the same few words—corruption on Wall Street, do what’s right for the American people—and she just kept re-stating the questions and problems instead of answering them. At one point, she even admitted that she wasn’t going to answer the questions the way that it was expected of her. To me, that sounded like just another preemptive attack so that when she had no real answers, she could cry foul if confronted for it. And how annoying was it that she kept calling McCain and herself mavericks? I have found, in life, that the people who run around telling anyone who’ll listen how talented they are really aren’t all that talented, the ones who tell anyone who’ll listen how smart they are really aren’t all that smart, and people who run around telling anyone who’ll listen that they’re non-conformists are usually the first ones to line up to do what everyone else is doing. And so it is for people who run around telling anyone who’ll listen that they’re “mavericks.” It’s just a word—and kind of a silly one at that.
How anyone could think that she actually won the debate is truly beyond me. Senator Biden ripped her to shreds—and calmly, with one hand tied behind his back, I might add—-providing specific answer after specific answer, dispelling media myths about him and correcting lies—yes, that’s right, I said it; I’m using the “L” word that no one wants to use—-she and McCain have been telling some LIES—-about his and Senator Obama’s records and plans. Yet, even after he had corrected her, she seemed to be unable to adjust her answers to counter his truths, and she just repeated the same lie the next time.
Example: Again and again, she accused Obama of planning to raise taxes on the middle class. (By the way, this is a time-honored tactic of right-wingers: lie and say that Democrats raise taxes on the middle class. Actually, over the last several decades, it has been the Republicans who have raised taxes on the middle class and lowered them for the rich. As noted Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels points out in his book Unequal Democracy, “Under Democratic presidents, poor families did slightly better than richer families [at least in proportional terms], producing a modest net decrease in income inequality; under Republican presidents, rich families did vastly better than poorer families, producing a considerable net increase in income inequality.” He also says that as far as taxes, Republican presidents, especially since Reagan, have pushed for tax cuts that have disproportionately helped the wealthiest Americans. And lest any of you start crying left-wing, fringe Democrat!, left-wing, fringe Democrat!–-which I just KNOW some of you are already doing—the last time that Bartels voted, he voted for Ronald Reagan.)
Even after Biden laid out Obama’s plan with specifics, explaining that anyone earning under $250,000 would not get a tax increase, that 94% of small business owners have personal earnings of under $250,000, etc., she stuck to the script, blindly perpetuating the lie, as if she hadn’t even heard Biden’s responses.
And so it went for the entire debate. I will say this much for Palin: Karl Rove and his minions did, indeed, do an excellent job of helping her prepare for this event. As has been shown over the past couple of weeks, she obviously knew nothing about most of the issues, didn’t know anything about the Supreme Court, couldn’t name even one newspaper that she regularly reads, didn’t have any foreign policy experience (oh, except, of course, for when Vladimir Putin rears his head in the air space over Alaska——which, we now know, doesn’t even happen, as if that should be considered foreign policy experience anyway), and couldn’t name a single issue that John McCain had fought for regarding middle-class Americans until this week. So I give her credit for not imploding on the stage, which many people thought she would. I knew that she would be able to make it through. Rove et al. have been pulling off bigger magic tricks than this for over 8 years.
Wow… and I thought this was a grammar/language blog… oh well.
Reply: It is a language and grammar blog and will continue to be, but even the most grammar-obsessed among us have the occasional thought on other topics (humor, politics, sports), so we occasionally stray.
Yeah, I too thought I’d get to see the speech diagramed to death, instead I had to read this nonsense. Oh well, some claim Rove didn’t contribute much, or was it Stalin, to the tactics of organinzed propaganda?
Sherry, thank you for this insightful analysis of what Palin said and how she said it! She truly was “laughable” and “sickening.” I am disheartened that so many viewers fell for her gimmicks and believe she is qualified to serve as VP.
Reply: Kate, thank you for your comment. It’s nice to see that not everyone is fooled by dishonesty wrapped in a fitted suit and a pretty face. What’s even more troubling than Governor Palin’s antics is that she and Senator McCain have been lying to people and encouraging them to view Senator Obama as a Muslim and a terrorist (as if the two were synonymous!); for me, that brings up credibility problems for McCain. I could go on………but I won’t. I just hope that if he’s elected, he’ll go through a much-needed metamorphosis and turn into the straight talker that he already fancies himself.
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