We know the Vice Presidential debate was last Thursday. We know we forfeited our right to have any opinion on it by drinking too much American Ale during the debate and staying up till 6 am with our buddy’s sister talking about Rahmin Bahrani and the “worth” of the “actor.” It’s not that we were intentionally shirking our responsibilities to our reader; we simply recognized our limited role in this circus and deferred to the authority of the major news outlets on the matter. We’d talk about Jenny Lewis or sleep-in and refuse to post in the interim.
Little did we know that actual media outlets on the other side of respectability and legitimacy would completely drop the ball. Now, on a Saturday night, WE have to take the time out of our busy plan of waiting for SNL and provide some much needed insight on what has become yet another squandered opportunity for the media to take control of this godforsaken Presidential race.
We don’t watch spin. We hate spin. We want to take spin behind the Petco on Bluemound Ave. and play “Buttons” by the Pussycat Dolls until it dies of mind trauma. We watch the Vice Presidential and Presidential debates, mix and match beers, wine and chasers, turn off the TV, talk about our feelings until sunrise and then sleep until Jeopardy at 7 PM the next day. We suggest you do the same because if there’s anything worse than sitting through an hour and a half debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin it’s having that entire accomplishment insulted by the offensively glib pundits who storm your screen afterward. Sarah Palin crashed and burned during that debate, and the media doesn’t have the wherewithal to tell you why.
The fundamental failure of the main media outlets after Thursday’s debate was its refusal to take a stand. We turn to you, The Best Political Teams in The World/News/on TV, for opinions because you have educated minds on panels, with headsets, at laptops who have taken the time to become aware of the issues so that we, the voter, can make an informed decision based on your “professional” insight. After all, you get paid to watch the debate so that we can drink American Ale and wear ironic Sarah Palin is My Home Girl t-shirts. You should help us understand what we may have missed and what may be over the average voter’s head.
Except you don’t give us that. All those brilliant minds inside command centers and situation rooms aren’t going to tell us what they think, they’re going to tell us what they IMAGINE the American people think. Does this feedback loop not seem outrageous to anyone else? We’re watching pundits after a debate so that we can have perspective on what the candidates just said and did. The pundits, on the other hand, are telling us what they THINK Joe Six Pack and Martha Home Maker are saying about the debate while sitting at their kitchen table in Wisconsin.
Hey media, there’s no such thing as “the average voter.” I’m the fucking average voter so don’t condescend to “Middle America” while insulting their and my intelligence. We’re watching you for your opinion, something no matter how hard you try you cannot be objective in. So stop pretending to be impartial and tell me what you thought about the debates, on camera, not when you think the microphones are off and you can’t be heard or seen, Peggy Noonan. Tell me what you HONESTLY think.
It was excruciating to hear brilliant minds like David Brooks and Mark Shields say things like, “Gov. Palin didn’t drool all over herself like a pitbull wearing lipstick, she therefore performed well according to the POLITICS OF LOWERED EXPECTATIONS.” The media fabricated these low expectations and then used them as their own standard for analysis, effectively screwing us out of a serious conversation about the veracity of each VP candidate’s claims, argumentative success and strength of vision.
Did Sarah Palin totally lose that debate using the objective standard of, um, I don’t know, how about ANSWERING the questions and REBUTTING specifics arguments? Since the media wont’ tell you we will. Yes she did. We’re not saying she performed better or worse than expected. We’re not even saying she potentially beat Joe Biden. It’s clear she lost, but what seems to be getting lost in translation was how severe that loss actually was. Sarah Palin may not have literally drooled all over herself, but in no realm of reality, during a time of this much economic and political unrest would what she did on Thursday qualify her to be President or Vice President of 400 million people.
Below are actual selections from Gov. Palin’s responses to Gwen Ifill’s questions on Thursday night. Please tell us if you honestly believe these answers reflect anything remotely acceptable from a person in whose hands we place the safety of our money, property and lives.
Question: Who do you think was at fault for the subprime lending meltdown…and what do you think you should be doing about it?
Sarah Palin: Darn right it was the predator lenders…There was deception there, and there was greed and there is corruption on Wall Street. And we need to stop that. Again, John McCain and I, that commitment that we have made, and we’re going to follow through on that, getting rid of that corruption.
We need to make sure that we demand from the federal government strict oversight of those entities in charge of our investments and our savings and we need also to not get ourselves in debt… Don’t live outside of our means. We need to make sure that as individuals we’re taking personal responsibility through all of this. It’s not the American peoples fault that the economy is hurting like it is, but we have an opportunity to learn a heck of a lot of good lessons through this and say never again will we be taken advantage of.
Okay, Gov. Palin, you and John McCain are going to cut down on corruption on Wall Street and demand strict oversight for those companies in charge of our investments and savings. How? Oh, that’s right you’re making shit up as you go and have nothing to actually back up the complete nonsense you’re feeding the American people. I don’t even have to copy/paste Joe Biden’s response because he reminds us that whatever Palin says doesn’t matter since John McCain supported the economic deregulation that led us into this mess by citing one article. This one from the American Academy of Actuaries entitled, “Better Care at Lower Cost for Every American.”
Gov. Palin’s response: I would like to respond about the tax increases…
Joe Biden’s response: …if you notice, Gwen, the governor did not answer the question about deregulation, did not answer the question of defending John McCain about not going along with the deregulation, letting Wall Street run wild. He did support deregulation almost across the board. That’s why we got into so much trouble.
Gov. Palin’s response: I’m still on the tax thing because I want to correct you on that again. And I want to let you know what I did as a mayor and as a governor. 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 and let them know my track record also…
Fine, you can say that’s good debating and staying on message and all that other bullshit, but the fact of the matter remains that Gov. Palin doesn’t have a specific response to a specific argument made by Sen. Biden. Unfortunately that’s a successful tactic “politically” and in the media’s eyes because it minimizes McCain’s liabilities for the failures of deregulation. Well played, Palin. You scored a political point by avoiding your parties’ weaknesses. But who loses during this exchange and the failure of the media to point out this duck and dodge? Not Sarah Palin. Not CNN. You, me and Joe Six Pack, that’s who.
Question: What promises — given the events of the week, the bailout plan, all of this, what promises have you and your campaigns made to the American people that you’re not going to be able to keep?
BIDEN: Well, the one thing we might have to slow down is a commitment we made to double foreign assistance. We’ll probably have to slow that down.
I can’t imagine an easier, more political response than this one. “Aw shucks, we can’t give our money away to poor countries like we would have liked.” Cheap answer, but at least it’s an answer. Gov. Palin, are there any promises you won’t be able to keep because of the debt created by the bailout plan?
Gov. Palin’s response: There is not. And how long have I been at this, like five weeks? So there hasn’t been a whole lot that I’ve promised, except to do what is right for the American people, put government back on the side of the American people, stop the greed and corruption on Wall Street.
What periodicals do you read, Gov. Palin? All of them. What promises will you have to break since the country is already in so much debt? None of them. Very nuanced, Gov. Palin, thank you for your honesty and compelling insight.
IFILL: Next question, Gov. Palin, still on the economy. Last year, Congress passed a bill that would make it more difficult for debt-strapped mortgage-holders to declare bankruptcy, to get out from under that debt. This is something that John McCain supported. Would you have?
PALIN: Yes, I would have. But here, again, there have — there have been so many changes in the conditions of our economy in just even these past weeks that there has been more and more revelation made aware now to Americans about the corruption and the greed on Wall Street.
We need to look back, even two years ago, and we need to be appreciative of John McCain’s call for reform with Fannie Mae, with Freddie Mac, with the mortgage-lenders, too, who were starting to really kind of rear that head of abuse.
And the colleagues in the Senate weren’t going to go there with him. So we have John McCain to thank for at least warning people. And we also have John McCain to thank for bringing in a bipartisan effort people to the table so that we can start putting politics aside, even putting a campaign aside, and just do what’s right to fix this economic problem that we are in.
It is a crisis. It’s a toxic mess, really, on Main Street that’s affecting Wall Street. And now we have to be ever vigilant and also making sure that credit markets don’t seize up. That’s where the Main Streeters like me, that’s where we would really feel the effects.
BIDEN: …here’s the deal. Barack Obama pointed out two years ago that there was a subprime mortgage crisis and wrote to the secretary of Treasury. And he said, “You’d better get on the stick here. You’d better look at it.”
John McCain said as early as last December, quote — I’m paraphrasing — “I’m surprised about this subprime mortgage crisis,” number one.
Number two, with regard to bankruptcy now, Gwen, what we should be doing now — and Barack Obama and I support it — we should be allowing bankruptcy courts to be able to re-adjust not just the interest rate you’re paying on your mortgage to be able to stay in your home, but be able to adjust the principal that you owe, the principal that you owe.
That would keep people in their homes, actually help banks by keeping it from going under. But John McCain, as I understand it — I’m not sure of this, but I believe John McCain and the governor don’t support that.
There are ways to help people now. And there — ways that we’re offering are not being supported by — by the Bush administration nor do I believe by John McCain and Gov. Palin.
IFILL: Gov. Palin, is that so?
PALIN: That is not so, but because that’s just a quick answer, I want to talk about, again, my record on energy versus your ticket’s energy ticket, also…
Like, we’re honestly going to accept this in our leaders? This flagrant ignorance on THEIR VERY OWN PLATFORM’S REBUTTAL to Obama-Biden’s stance on the laws affecting mortgage holders declaring bankruptcy? She BLATANTLY changed the subject to energy because she’s NOT VERSED in anything that doesn’t directly effect only Alaskans. How can she be a President to all if she’s only familiar with the needs of those in her state? Your confidence in your thoughts on energy is impressive, Governor, but the INSULTING disregard you show for the American people by refusing to answer specific questions is not.
IFILL: You both have sons who are in Iraq or on their way to Iraq. You, Gov. Palin, have said that you would like to see a real clear plan for an exit strategy. What should that be, Governor?
PALIN: I am very thankful that we do have a good plan and the surge and the counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq that has proven to work, I am thankful that that is part of the plan implemented under a great American hero, Gen. Petraeus, and pushed hard by another great American, Sen. John McCain.
I know that the other ticket opposed this surge, in fact, even opposed funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Barack Obama voted against funding troops there after promising that he would not do so.
PALIN: And Sen. Biden, I respected you when you called him out on that. You said that his vote was political and you said it would cost lives. And Barack Obama at first said he would not do that. He turned around under political pressure and he voted against funding the troops. We do have a plan for withdrawal. We don’t need early withdrawal out of Iraq. We cannot afford to lose there or we’re going to be no better off in the war in Afghanistan either. We have got to win in Iraq.
And with the surge that has worked we’re now down to pre-surge numbers in Iraq. That’s where we can be. We can start putting more troops in Afghanistan as we also work with our NATO allies who are there strengthening us and we need to grow our military. We cannot afford to lose against al Qaeda and the Shia extremists who are still there, still fighting us, but we’re getting closer and closer to victory. And it would be a travesty if we quit now in Iraq.
BIDEN: Gwen, with all due respect, I didn’t hear a plan.
IFILL: Has this administration’s policy [on the Israel-Palestine conflict] been an abject failure, as the senator says, Governor?
PALIN: No, I do not believe that it has been. But I’m so encouraged to know that we both love Israel, and I think that is a good thing to get to agree on, Sen. Biden. I respect your position on that.
No, in fact, when we talk about the Bush administration, there’s a time, too, when Americans are going to say, “Enough is enough with your ticket,” on constantly looking backwards, and pointing fingers, and doing the blame game.
There have been huge blunders in the war. There have been huge blunders throughout this administration, as there are with every administration.
But for a ticket that wants to talk about change and looking into the future, there’s just too much finger-pointing backwards to ever make us believe that that’s where you’re going.
Positive change is coming, though. Reform of government is coming. We’ll learn from the past mistakes in this administration and other administrations.
And we’re going to forge ahead with putting government back on the side of the people and making sure that our country comes first, putting obsessive partisanship aside.
That’s what John McCain has been known for in all these years. He has been the maverick. He has ruffled feathers.
But I know, Sen. Biden, you have respected for them that, and I respect you for acknowledging that. But change is coming.
I could keep copy/pasting excerpts from this debate that underscore how grossly unprepared Gov. Palin is to be President of the United States, but I feel like her understanding of the Bush administration’s successes and/or failures on the conflict between Israel and Palestine and her absence of a plan to correct those errors or build-on those successes is as appropriate a place to stop as any other.
Yes, she had some good answers in addition to these offensively under articulated ones. But most of them were reiterations of McCain Campaign talking points (TEAM of Mavericks?) or empty lip-service to Republican ideals (Joebama is going to tax the poor, the middle class, the wealthy, the corporate and the small business and use that money to give lazy people universal health care at your expense). Her only specific responses came on the topics of domestic oil reserves and dubious phrasing about what bills Obama and McCain may or may not have voted for.
Maybe we’d actually be able to break down what little she knows if the media had taken its job seriously and deconstructed those statements. Instead they played a cycle of folksy sound-bites that yes, show that Gov. Palin was able to formulate words on Thursday night. Unfortunately, whether or not she was able to formulate ideas is another matter on which the media, pundits and spin doctors were completely mute.