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Posts Tagged ‘Katie Couric’

After the past week or two, it seemed if some people were expecting Sarah Palin to fall on her face tonight on the way to the podium, to stammer unintelligibly for 90 straight minutes, to contradict every single position John McCain has ever taken, to refer to moderator Gwen Ifill as “Aretha,” to admit she can’t find Alaska on a map, and to suddenly being licking her microphone.

And so — shock of shocks! — Palin did none of those things in tonight’s VP debate, so she must have “won”! Or at least, she must be showered with positive punditry because she didn’t drag the entire McCain-Palin ticket down in a gigantic fireball that would have even made The Huffington Post feel a tinge of empathy.

After the performance Palin had put on recently in the company of Katie “The Intimidator” Couric, there was certainly a well-warranted feeling that Palin might finish the job tonight and kill the McCain campaign once and for all.

Come on now. We all know how debates work. When you’re stumped by a question, you brush it off and go back to the talking points — the ones you’ve had weeks to practice. Obama does it, McCain does it, Biden does it and tonight, Palin did it. You can’t quite get away with that in a one-on-one sit-down. That’s why Palin’s run-ins with Couric have been so disastrous. But debates simply aren’t set up to allow those kind of calamities.

So of course Palin surprised us or exceeded expectations. Or didn’t qualify for ward-of-the-state status with her debate performance. This was essentially the immediate post-debate analysis offered on NBC by the likes of Chuck Todd and Tom Brokaw. Geraldine Ferraro even came along to say she was pulling for Palin not to screw up and was pleased to declare she hadn’t. (Ferraro acknowledged that Biden made stronger policy arguments — how f’ed up is American political discourse when this is basically an aside?)

What no one seemed to talk about right away — perhaps out of fear of being accused of piling on the poor woman, or perhaps because they were so breath-taken by Palin’s demonstration of being able to repeat talking points — was the fact that Palin’s presentation was, while not the catastrophe many may have been expecting or hoping for, nevertheless shaky and at times uncertain and at other times clearly coached and rehearsed.

Biden had his wobbly moments too — curiously, particularly right after he appeared so strong in rebuking Palin’s “the surge will work in Afghanistan” suggestion — but not as many as Palin’s, and his delivery was miles ahead. Palin seemed nervous, a bit clunky in making what were frequent and abrupt transitions from one topic to another one, and unquestionably in less command of her material than Biden was of his.

The problem here, since as I said above we need to be worried about policy, after all, is not so much that Palin didn’t have the polish that Biden seemed much more able to display. The problem is that when Palin was at her best, she was also at her most vague. Doubtless her coaches knew what kind of stuff sounds best and most natural out of the lipsticked mouth of that great arctic pitt bull. Keep it general, keep it fluffy, keep it “Joe Sixpack.” Talk about your family, about “small-town” stuff, and freedom and shining cities on a hill and of course, praise the hell out of John McCain. All that is easy stuff compared to getting down and dirty with tax policy, foreign affairs, military strategy or constitutional theory. Little wonder, then, that Palin mostly tried to steer clear of such wonkish territory and kept coming back to the “glittering generalities.”

Biden came armed with facts and data and mostly had solid command of them. Palin tried to toss voting-record mud at Biden and Obama only to see a fair bit of it deflected back. Soon enough she realized she probably wasn’t going to win an argument over the nuances of Senate votes by regurgitating someone else’s talking points to a man with nearly 36 years in Congress.

Certainly instant debate analysis from the talking heads is something to be wary of (Obama-McCain I was universally declared a tie only to have public-opinion polling suggest otherwise, to Team Obama’s pleasure; and already, there’s good news for Obama-Biden after tonight’s debate), but that doesn’t lessen the frustration of witnessing the media air their confusions and ingorance on live television for the world to see.

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I was going to use this space to discuss the lack of intellectual honesty in Republicans’ claims yesterday that Democrats/Nancy Pelosi/Barack Obama are to blame for the fact that John “The Conquering Economic Hero” McCain and John “I’m a Huge Boner” Boehner couldn’t wrangle up the GOP votes they had prematurely given McCain credit for wrangling up for yesterday’s failed $700 billion economic bailout package. (Let me see if I have this right: It was a good bill, worth voting for, that you planned to vote for, but Pelosi pissed you off with a “partisan speech” in which she — perhaps indelicately but justifiably, nonetheless — railed against Bush/GOP economic policies as the cause of our troubles, and you get all blustery and decide not to vote for an otherwise good bill. And then you turn around and blame the people who actually did vote for it. How small. How petty. How fucking stupid.)

I was also going to use this space to investigate the ongoing saga that is Sarah “Dinosaurs and Man Coexisted” Palin and her attempts to sound at least as informed as a 9th-grader on matters of national and international import. How bad is it when you’re blaming “gotcha journalism” when the media publish something you said in public to a voter? Seriously? Karl only wishes he were that cynical.

Yes, I was going to use this space to talk about all that. Instead, I’ll talk about an item that came across my desk this morning. Seems the mayor of Fort Mill, S.C., was “just curious” when he forwarded an e-mail (from a business account, not a city account) that suggests Barack Obama is the antichrist. Mayor Danny “Ass for Brains” Funderburk, intrepid investigator that he is, was merely “trying to get documentation if there was any scripture to back it up.”

I’m about to send the following e-mail to hizzoner Funderburk:

FWD: How to do biblical research by looking shit up in your bible as opposed to sending already-discredited bullshit to 50 of your most bass-ackwards idiot friends and family

This isn’t the first time South Carolina has made news recently thanks to one of these “who, me?” ignoramuses. Check out this jaw-dropper from the good-hearted Christians in Greenville. (But let’s just keep in mind that decent people — of which there are plenty in the Palmetto State — don’t make the news for acting decent.)

Ol’ Karl will be the first to admit this is all entertaining as hell. Sad, but entertaining. Distressing and deeply troubling, yes. But entertaining.

A dire forecast for the future of America, the world and humanity as we know it, absolutely.

But still entertaining — right?

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