Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Debate preview

from someone who has debated Sarah Palin.
I should know. I've debated Governor Palin more than two dozen times. And she's a master, not of facts, figures, or insightful policy recommendations, but at the fine art of the nonanswer, the glittering generality. Against such charms there is little Senator Biden, or anyone, can do.

On paper, of course, the debate appears to be a mismatch.


"Andrew, I watch you at these debates with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures, and policies, and I'm amazed. But then I look out into the audience and I ask myself, 'Does any of this really matter?' " Palin said.

While policy wonks such as Biden might cringe, it seemed to me that Palin was simply vocalizing her strength without realizing it. During the campaign, Palin's knowledge on public policy issues never matured – because it didn't have to. Her ability to fill the debate halls with her presence and her gift of the glittering generality made it possible for her to rely on populism instead of policy.
So a clueless mess of a candidate like Sarah Palin succeeds because we, as Americans, don’t demand more of our political leaders. They’re just more glitterati, another celebrity face on TV to entertain us. Dangerous fools like Palin and George Bush, who are full of shit and style but completely devoid of substance, exist becuase of their willingness to lie about anything at any time, of course, but more importantly, because we can’t be bothered to call them on it or hold them accountable. They lie because it works, and they continue to exist because we allow them to.

Of course, since Palin accepted the nomination, I have yet to see anything approaching mastery from her in any utterance or human interaction that isn’t 100 percent scripted. She’s in the bigs now, and the pressure seems to be getting to her.



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