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...a sweatshop of moxie

Thursday, October 02, 2008


The Vice-Presidential debate is finally upon us.

Governor Sarah Palin's longtime friend, Linda Patrick, was interviewed by Greta van Susteren about the debate, and when asked if everyone over in Alaska was excited, she replied:

"Oh yes. It's as big as the Super Bowl."

Altogether not a bad analogy, because the excitement is the same, even if the expectations are so very different:

The Republicans are hoping Sarah Palin can pull out another show-stopping performance, like she did at the RNC, whilst the Democrats are tuning in with a bucket of popcorn at the almost-certain trainwreck they expect.

I am tempering my hopes for this debate, and I'll tell you why.

No, not a mindfake, where by lowering expectations about Palin's performance, I hope that when she does well, it'll reflect even better because everyone was thinking she'd bomb. It's just that I think the reviews are already prepared, and they are going to be negative no matter how well she does.

I do have some observations about Governor Palin, though.

After watching her gubernatorial debate, and reading up on everything I can of her campaigning skills, I think she can win the debate handily.

I've noticed that she has a hidden gear that only comes out when she's on the spot. The trick is that she's a born politician who however does better in crowds than one-on-one.

Not that her individual people skills are lacking, nor her steely competitiveness.

I noticed that during the Fox News' videobio of Palin during that second roll-out weekend. She was her folksy self, a lady who drops her gerund's 'g's and uses colloquialisms even to the point of distraction.

But every once in a while, when the Israeli documentarist asked her a prying question, her eyes would flash and she'd give a pitch-perfect response, short and sweet, and very very cutting -- such as her reply about the public's sexist remarks about not being able to be a governor and be a parent at the same time, or her pageanting days.

I also noticed that she doesn't like to reveal anything about her unduly, and balked when he asked her to play the flute for the camera (more on that on another post). He got the shot, and a very beautiful one it was, but it took coaxing to make her do something she didn't want.

I sense she has a very acute sense of her own image, her "brand" if you will, and it might be frustrating her to see it recently debased by media, and partisan bloggers. She is used to crafting her own image, that of a spare-no-punches reformer, willing to get to power only to fire those she considers unworthy of their positions, which it so happens, many of them are.

Having an uncanny ability to be present at the right time, and the right place, she uses that timing to her advantage politically, even when others think she is way above her head. That is precisely the case in this election too. In other words, she's been here before, she likes being the underdog, and it seems to feed some motivational desire to prove people wrong.

That is the kind of experience people aren't even aware of, and she'll abuse that all night long.

Going back even further, if you have seen my blogpost showing her as a sportscaster, you'll notice the rather sarcastic tone she had when describing scenes around a stadium (about a late-occuring "wave"), as well as her critical attitude towards an NCAA basketball matchup. It was so apparent, that the co-anchor even teased her about her sardonic tone.

She was no push-over, that Sarah Heath, and today, you can see Sarah Palin's no push-over either.

Like many conservatives, Palin realises she is in for a very hard time with media and popular culture. She said so in the Hannity interview. I rather think she enjoys tweaking their noses, which we all saw in abundance during the RNC speech.

The speech might not have been written by her, despite some contributions, but it had her "voice" of in-your-face self-awareness that if you don't expect, can make you squirm in your seat. I'm sure Senator Obama was squirming a lot that night because he didn't expect it at all (no one did).

She is beyond self-possessed.

This woman exudes a near magical self-confidence, which in an uglier woman or more brilliant intellect would've been destructive to her career. As it is, she makes people want to tear her down, because let's face it, she's a complete natural. What she has, you can't teach.

The claws come out because people believe she is trading in on her good looks (for one), and hasn't "earned" a spot in the highest ranks of our nation's politics. For another, her educational background is suspect.

After 20 straight years of having had Presidents with degrees from either Harvard or Yale, the chattering classes don't know what to do with an University of Idaho grad. Senator Biden is also a graduate from a modest university, but people excuse that due to his 30 year plus Senate career.

Ironically, having a college education was already an imprimatur of elitism in American society, even if the diploma wasn't an Ivy League one. Nixon was a graduate of Whittier College and Reagan of the hallowed halls of that renowned educational facility, Eureka College.

But something happened after the GI Bill -- with so many college graduates from all walks of life now holding an univeristy degree, instead of a previous precious few, it focused MORE not less importance to having an Ivy League diploma.

Harry Truman notably was the last US President without a college education. That is unthinkable today. And for many people, Sarah Palin's Idahoan diploma is a mere hop up from having no higher learning degree at all.

Many people are reading this, and thinking that it's a good thing that Americans expect only the best to govern them. But that's antithetical to the American way of life. The "best" has more to do with character, than with background or ideology -- which is the root cause of the elitism divide in this country towards Sarah Palin.

She knows this. She uses it to her advantage. Furthermore, others know that she is doing so, but they seem unable to prevent her from doing it. That further frustrates them, and they get even nastier because of it.

It's almost as if she is willing people to underestimate her, so that she can pull out a punch when they least expect it. She did that various times in her gubernatorial debate (e.g., when taunting Andrew Halcro about being an amazing statistician; read, a nerdy know-it-all), but since she does it with a smile, it looks less fierce than it is.

Believe me, her opponents understood it, and eventually the viewing audience did too.

I am reminded of President George W. Bush, whose political career comes to a merciful whimper in 2009. The thing about Bush is that he's a great instinctive politician, but people around him have always underestimated him.

He has the degrees that Palin lacks (Yale, Harvard MBA), but in his case, they found a way to belittle him just the same by suggesting he only got them because he was a legacy. Just a rich, dumb kid. Don't pay that Georgie any mind. He's nothing.

Two Presidential terms later, and they still don't know what hit them.

See, when you underestimate your opponent, which is merely another way of saying you give them a total lack of respect, it gives those being underestimated a crucial advantage over you.

It allows them to prove you wrong, and there is no single greater motivating factor for ultra-competitive, power-hungry people (which politicians are by definition) than this.

Modern Democrats since Adlai Stevenson have had this tendency to dismiss people because they feel they are much more intelligent, better qualified to be President, and just plain better than the men they oppose. Moreover, rank-and-file Democrats tend to feel the same way.

The only possible explanation then, when the underestimated one beats his opponent, becomes that Americans are just "The United Stupid of America" to use comedian Bill Maher's arrogant phrase:

Dumb as ditch water, led by simpletons like Bush and possibly now Palin.

And so the cycle begins all over again, each time more painful and less comprehensible than the other because of a total lack of understanding of the other's qualities -- a country now defined culturally by urban versus rural, religious versus secular, patriotic versus internationalist.

Interestingly, the man opposite her will be Senator Joseph Biden. He has a thing or two to prove too. Everyone seems to like Joe Biden, but "Clueless Joe" is also a remarkable figure of fun.

A walking gaffe machine, whose malapropisms and herky-jerks are greeted with the same shoulder-shrugging inevitability as regular volcanic eruptions are -- there ain't nothing you can do about 'em, so just sit back and let them pass, seem to be his supporters' reaction.

One almost gets the sense that if he weren't a Democrat, he'd be as easily dismissed by liberals as Bush and Palin are. His Party affiliation is his saving grace, and he wears it like an amulet to protect himself from genuine disdain.

(This could also singlehandedly describe an entire class of Hollywood actors)

Palin has no such protection. On the contrary, she is a walking red flag which is begging to be shut up or shot down.

Biden may be aware that his career as a politician would be toast if he says anything too egregious during the debate, allowing Palin to administer a knockout in turn and possibly costing Obama the election, so I predict he'll be cool and keep smiling with those overly-white pearlies of his.

This wait-and-see posture would usually not work in Palin's favour. But in this case, during the Thursday debate, it just might.

She NEEDS to feel the sting of disrespect to get that hidden gear going, but the sheer weight of the tutorials on foreign policy and the economy have turned her robotic and unsure of herself against such towering intellects like Gibson and Couric.

So beware of seeing that haunted look come across her face, when her nose starts to twitch.

Danger! Hold on folks! Mistake coming!

But if you see a twinkle in her eye, watch out Mr. Biden. Many moose have gone where you are daring to tread.

How will Sarah Palin do in the Vice-Presidential debate? Only God knows. But I think it's fair to say that most Republicans want Palin to be more like Palin, and most Democrats want Biden to be less like Biden. Advantage Palin.

Should be a corker.



  • Victoria, my love, the Obamabots are making quips about you at Althouse's house. Could you come and give them some of that salacious intelligence of yours??

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 02:04:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Hi Victoria,

    Nice to see that you're blogging on this. However, I think tonight's debate is a pure ambush and she shouldn't have gone. Not that it really matters as the election has been thrown to Obama.

    By Blogger Alex, at Thu Oct 02, 02:10:00 pm GMT-4  

  • A record audience for a vice presidential race is expected. It’s a given that the new viewers are tuning in to see Sarah Palin. But do more new spectators want to see her nail it or fail it? Who knows? Throw in the hobbled moderator and there’s plenty of room for surprise. I’ll be looking for grace under pressure.

    By Blogger chickenlittle, at Thu Oct 02, 04:45:00 pm GMT-4  

  • LOL! Ernie, ahorra se que eres cubano. Chismoso. ;)

    Don't worry, babe. I never answer trolls so it's not even an option to respond to what they say.

    Thanks for the comments guys! I can't wait for 9 PM.


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Oct 02, 08:18:00 pm GMT-4  

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