02 October 2008

Calm before the storm? Also, the VP debate.

[Update: While I doubt that anyone interested in the debate was relying on me to get the time of it, I want to correct myself for the record: the debate began at 2100ET, 2000CT].

It's been a quiet news day today, especially compared to the rest of this week so far. The House Rules Committee is debating the Senate version of the bailout bill right now. There was some thought that it might come to the floor tonight, but I'll be surprised if it does. The House leadership doesn't need to be be humiliated twice in one week; they'll wait until they're absolutely certain they have the votes to pass it. If that means another day or two of hearings, then hearings there shall be.

The market sank a bit more today, uncertain as to the outcome. My guess is you'll see some uptick in the morning from bargain hunters, and which way it goes after that will depend on whether and how the House votes. If it doesn't look like the House is going to vote tomorrow at all, I would expect the market to drop quite a bit before the closing bell.

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Before we continue, in case there are any strangers tuning in (and that'd be nice, but I don't really expect it, yet), let me be clear about my politics. I don't belong to any party; I loathe them all equally as perversions of both democratic and republican (small d and small r) principles.

If the Republican Party were running a candidate that didn't scare the hell out of me, I would consider voting for him or her. But they're not. The previous two elections, I sat back and mostly just watched, cynically convinced it didn't matter who won. The last eight years have proven me very, very wrong.

And so, while I have misgivings about him, I am, and have been since the primaries, a vocal proponent of Obama's candidacy. Of the candidates who came out this time around, I think he's got the best balance in his politics and in his abilities. I think, by far, he will do more to rehabilitate the US's standing in the world than the continued ham-fisted neoconservatism McCain carries with him.

Moving right along...

***

The one and only debate between the candidates for Vice President is tonight at 2000ET. At one point I was thinking of making a point to watch it in real time, but right now I'm thinking I'll try to catch a feed later.

I'm a little bit worried about this debate. As another of my friends has pointed out, I'm not really sure Biden can win. That sounds absurd, I know, given whom he's debating, but in this case, the definition of "win" has nothing to do with "make his points more strongly, more coherently, and more persuasively." The definition of "win" is, "Come out not looking like a complete jerk while still managing to highlight the fact that Palin is a bad choice, and by extension that the man who chose her shouldn't be trusted."

That's a delicate balancing act, and Biden's many sterling qualities do not really include delicacy.

Biden's best possible strategy (and this is damned easy for me to say, I know, 'cos I'm never going to have to go before the cameras and face this sort of thing) will be to avoid engagement. Indeed, my understanding of the rules is that this "debate" is going to be more like a parallel interview, where they're not supposed to engage one another. This in direct contrast to the previous debate, where Obama and McCain were supposed to talk to each other, but mostly talked to the audience. Palin has already demonstrated that she doesn't really need to be debating someone to dig herself a hole when answering tough questions.

Palin is playing on one of the deepest-seated populist myths: that in a country where any citizen is permitted to become president or vice-president, any citizen, no matter how "Joe six-pack", is qualified. In a world where justice and fairness prevailed, John McCain would be automatically disqualified from continuing his campaign for allowing himself to be associated with the arrant hypocrisy of, on the one hand, allowing his VP choice to spout such rubbish, and on the other hand, insisting that Obama is unqualified.

Unfortunately, this myth is one that persists throughout the electorate. Bill Clinton, one of the most intelligent men in politics, got elected, not for his intelligence, but because he's capable of coming across like one of the guys. George W. Bush, one of the least intelligent men in politics, got elected for the same reason. More to the point, Al Gore and John Kerry lost to W because they don't.

Obama is in real danger here, because while his eloquence has become almost proverbial, he has a bad habit of sounding like he's lecturing a classroom. Granted, he's a very passionate lecturer, but lectures don't play well at barbecues. It's the beer and barbecue crowd that propelled Clinton and Bush both to office, and that, as much as toward the women's vote, is where McCain is cynically aiming with Palin.

1 comment:

kinnerc said...

>The one and only debate between the candidates for Vice President is tonight at 2000ET.

While you are technically correct, Mikey, you're gonna confuse a lot of people.

The debate is at 2100EDT, 0100UTC