Friday, October 03, 2008

Debate Post-Mortem: Tie Goes to Voluble Irishman

Our favorite moment of Thursday night's debate was when Palin, apparently transposing the name of the Democratic veep nominee with that of his running mate, referred to her rival as "O'Biden."* We'd like to think this was a subtle, deeply ironic and intentional jab at the millionaire senator's tiresome invocations of his middle-(or working-, whatever) class Irish-Catholic upbringing, but we're pretty sure "subtlety" isn't a tool in the Palin box, Champ.

The post-debate consensus settled on Palin as the narrow winner, apparently because she defied expectations and was able to stand upright while delivering her canned blather in a suitably slick TV-friendly manner (New York Times tight end David Brooks, who probably should refrain from writing on deadline, sounded as if he'd been damn near aroused by Palin's performance), although the insta-polls showed a majority of respondents giving the call to Biden (forcing some head-scratching revision among the TV talkers in the cold light of morning).

For what it's worth, Biden did in fact "win," if only because he managed to get through the entire 90 minutes without telling at least one gigantic, bald-faced lie (apparently)**, or appearing overly smug and condescending by complimenting Palin for being so clean and articulate, and mostly for being able to shut down his verbal spigot when time demanded.

Our judgment may be colored, however. Biden, with his weirdly glowing teeth and feral smile, has always struck us as an amiable blowhard. But Palin's charms have escaped us. She flat gives us the willies (and the thought of her as president gives us an advanced case, which as medical science has discovered is marked by a pronounced numbness in the extremities). James Wolcott, a liberal pussy, has felicitously likened the Alaska governor to Jiminy Cricket, another cartoon character whose appeal has always puzzled us. Beneath the winking and darns and goshes and Joe Six-Packs we detect a vast aquifer of dorm-room snarkiness, and the incessant self-referencing of Hockey Mom-dom is just a form of reverse elitism (Michael Kinsley, another liberal pussy, says it means "I'm better than you ...")

We also found her explanation for the ongoing economic debacle to be wholly unsatisfying, as well as very un-Republican. It's the "predatory lenders," Palin said, "who tried to talk Americans into thinking that it was smart to buy a $300,000 house if we could only afford a $100,000 house."

Those wily predators. So much for personal responsibility. We's all just dim-witted rubes out here in Joe Six-Packland, easy prey for the fast-talkin' slicks.

**Runner-up was her avowal that "toxic waste from Main Street ... is affecting Wall Street." Maybe she needs a map, or this was a Freudian slip.

**Check out this hilarious example of Biden's penchant for unthruthiness, courtesy of Jeffrey Goldberg in Thursday's Times.

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