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...a sweatshop of moxie

Friday, October 03, 2008

Here's Winking At You, Kid

Now that the House of Representatives has passed the "bailout Bill" by a surprisingly healthy margin of 263-71 (even my famous local Congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, changed her "no" to "yes"), media will be given the green light to ignore the Vice-Presidential debate, in favour of talking about this Bill.

Be prepared for a full dose of Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Rahm Emanuel and dozens of other Democrats, no doubt invited to the talk shows tonight, allowing them to preen about their victory.

Not only does it re-emphasise the fact that media devote hours to gurgle about how badly Sarah Palin did during the Armstrong/Couric interviews, but when presented with a polished, vibrant performance at the debate where she stunned America, that they then ignore it, but the fact is that the economy is on a trajectory to a slightly better condition, and this is of true consequence for our nation.

Perhaps, though, it's a little payback from the gods when Governor Sarah Palin's roll-out in Dayton that Friday utterly eclipsed Senator Obama's speech at Invesco Field on Thursday.

Never mind.

Americans tuned to watch the debate in record numbers. The Nielsen ratings show this was the highest-rated debate since 1992. Astounding when you think these two people represent the bottom two of the ticket -- and an inconceivable eyeball turnout had it been Biden v. Romney/Pawlenty/Ridge.

Turns out the plan to sabotage Sarah Palin's national political career didn't turn out too well for mainstream media and the Left blogosphere. After two weeks of gruelling, negative and knee-slapping coverage of Sarah Palin, the only visible triumph they got out of it was that Republicans rushed out in record droves to buy Pepto-Bismol.

Faced with a moderator who sounded grumpy that she had been called out about her Age of Obama book, and who allowed Senator Joe Biden to get in the last word nearly every time (including opening and closing remarks, which I didn't realise was even permissible), Governor Palin rescued her present and future chances for national public office, and by extension, her running-mate from a landslide defeat this year.

Peggy Noonan spoke for a lot of Republicans when she opened her post-debate remarks by noting, "She killed", a giggle-producing phrase clearly influenced by Palin's folksy vocabulary.

Probably most Americans won't even know that Governor Palin had a sold out after-party at Chaifetz Arena, which raised the proverbial roof in welcome when she arrived. I had called this VP debate the Superbowl of debates, and if you hold that analogy to be correct, then she arrived at the event holding the MVP trophy.

Compare the Palin post-debate rally.

To Senator Biden's celebration.

Here are a few words about Senator Biden, though.

He seemed caught off guard by Palin's "Hey, can I call you Joe?" request, and held on to her hand tenderly as he oozed, "You can call me Joe". In that one moment, she encapsulated every aspect of her candidacy thus far -- Panther-like aggressiveness, perfect timing, and an informality of speech which is disconcerting.

If his debate strategy was to be kind to her, so as not to be seen as a sexist pig, he more than accomplished his goal.

The overriding impression one got from him, apart from the fact that it should be Biden and not Barack Obama who should be the head of his ticket, is that he was absolutely disarmed by this lady. I would even go so far as to suggest his feelings were paternal towards her, beaming broadly when she successfully parried many of his rebuttals.

Here's an example.

When the families were onstage after the debate, Biden even entwined his hands around hers in a gesture many daughters know well from their fathers. It's a kindly, supportive gesture and went far to soften the screeds leveled at this woman by his co-ideologues, at least in my opinion.

Today, the post-mortem on the debate is that he was substantive, and she was folksy.

I beg to differ with the over-substantive part of that assessment. These were some of his mistakes.

How substantive is it that he didn't understand that madrassas ARE schools, that Hezbollah haven't been kicked out of Lebanon (in his forté, foreign policy!), that he mentioned the wrong article of the Constitution dealing with Vice-Presidents, that McCain categorically did NOT vote against funding the troops -- that last one was glaringly obvious to me during the debate.

- If you want to counter with "O'Biden", I'll raise you a "Bosniac".

- If you mention Palin's goof about "General McClellan" when it was McKiernan, I'll up the ante with "Katie's Restaurant" which closed down 15 years ago, during the first Clinton term!

- Fact-checkers even called up Home Depot, of which he claimed to be a habitué, and none of the Wilmington ones could recall him trolling for drillbits.

Don't get me wrong.

People on both sides of the aisles had their buttons pushed by their candidates on Thursday. This was a red-meat debate, where you loved Joe Biden if you were a Democrat because he spoke to your core values of basic fairness through government intervention (and getting freaky on Dick Cheney), whereas Palin made us Republicans dream of Reagan's shiny city on a hill all over again (and laugh when she sent a shout-out to third-graders).

Do you think that if Biden did well, that means he won the debate?

Not really. What he did was to prove he and Palin are remarkably well-matched as number Twos on the ticket. They have the same blue-collar work ethic, and lack of airs and graces which rings so true at the moment. Whilst I may deny him the absolute authenticity that Palin has by her life's circumstances, no one can doubt his genuine choking up moment when mentioning his late wife. It was a masterful moment of schmalz, and it endeared him to America because of it.

It is the two Presidential candidates who have this awkward electricity towards each other, making their debate much more cerebral and inaccessible, precisely the kind which turns off Main Street at the moment. One got the impression that it took all of Senator Obama's slim political experience to counter each grilling reply by Senator McCain. Yet, it is true that Senator Obama was prepared to counter every point and looked Presidential doing so.

The irony here is that Democrats do not get why this works with Obama and do not give the same credit to Palin for identical performances.

Obama and Palin are precisely the same kind of unique, charismatic politician. They are more about visions and ideals, than policy and knowledge. Both play fast-and-loose with their qualifications, and experience, but they can do so because Obama is a star, and Palin is a natural.

There is no black politician remotely like Senator Obama in America today. But search far and wide in these United States, and you will not find a single woman politician who resembles Sarah Palin.

It is a remarkable election. It is a gift to political junkies. 2008 is simply epic.

Can you believe we still have one more month of this to go?

I don't know who will win the election, but today I feel confident the Republicans have a chance given Palin's reassuring debate performance, and the economy just being given the paddles of life.

But it makes it easier to enjoy the rest of it safe in the knowledge that the winks are on their way. Because, hear me loud and clear, I'll do anything to keep this face on American television for 4 years.

Sarah Palin: that's my girl.

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