Friday, October 3

On the VP debate

I watched the debate between Palin and Biden and here are a few thoughts.
Beyond all that can be said about substantial differences between the candidates' statements of facts and proposed policies, the whole debate stank a stench of party control the likes of which we have not yet seen, even when accounting for the prosthetic brain that Bush had had wired under his coat on one occasion. It was obvious that both candidates knew every question that was going to be put to them, as well as the order in which they would be raised. It is no wonder, then, that the two parties, who control these debates so as to exclude all other parties and prevent serious questions from being asked, refused to divulge the terms of their agreement concerning the conduct of the debate. That's why the criticism of Gwen Ifill that was launched before the debate even took place was particularly foul -- because it ignorantly or willfully neglected the much larger fact that the entire debate process and its "committee" lacked fairness and objectivity. None of the four candidates for office even deigned to mention the fraudulent name of the committee, which was hatched to give it an air of officialdom and legitimacy. It is no wonder, given this highly concocted and safe-guarding strategy on the part of Democrats and Republicans (and especially the two representatives of those parties who have undemocratically and in a highly partisan way controlled the whole debate process since stealing it away from the League of Women Voters) that "bipartisanship" was praised with such mad insistence by the candidates. Shouldn't they, in fact, be ashamed of it? Where is there any resistance anymore to the policies of these two parties' leaders? They seem delighted whenever they find a issue on which they agree (as in the cruel and one-sided policies towards the Palestinians or the totally unjustified rejection of same-sex marriage). Caving in to the other side, which is the "other side" many times only in name, has become synonymous with being a "maverick," something McCain surely is not.

As for the exchange, I will leave aside commenting on Sarah's mannerisms, which Saturday Night Live did a good job of portraying. I cannot stand but care not to discuss the winking, the cutesy and cheap one-liners like "Say it ain't so, Joe," and so on, all of which made Sarah's performance look trivializing, fake and inept. What really pissed me off was the glaring falsity, one that seems to be at the heart of the Republican party, in which Sarah claimed, out of one side of her mouth, that government has messed up and, out of the other, that government should be weakened. Somehow, by means of this double speak, we are supposed to believe that the government messed up because it was too strong or that it exercised oversight too well, when obviously the opposite is true and the opposite conclusion should follow. (And we are also supposed to forget, as well, that in principle the government serves as the representation of the people, not as its adversary.) By listening to Sarah, you would think that if government could only be reduced to a barely functioning outpost, then pathological corporations and enterprisingly happy families could finally exist in a state of endless harmony. That's forgetting that, at the same time, this idealized pair, having crushed their own government, would have also to maintain an ever-expanding military and economic empire across the globe. We've seen how well the first steps in that direction have turned out.

In case you think I am going exaggerating the contradictions of this candidate to one of the highest offices in the land, recall what Sarah said the other night:

"Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In fact, too often you're the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper."

What a goddamn idiot assessment of how the country and its government work. Is there any way to shake this stupidity out of American society, now that the Republicans and their fawning media empire has spread it far and wide?

I was pleased to see that the NYTimes underscored some of this rubbish in their editorial, which included these lines:
When it came to domestic issues, Ms. Palin mainly relied on enthusiasm and humor, talking about hockey moms, soccer moms and Joe Sixpack almost as often as she used the word “maverick” to describe Mr. McCain or herself.


Ms. Palin’s primary tactic was simply to repeat the same thing over and over: John McCain is a maverick. So is she. To stay on that course, she had to indulge in some wildly circular logic: America does not want another Washington insider. They want Mr. McCain (who has been in Congress for nearly 26 years). Ms. Palin condemned Wall Street greed and said she and Mr. McCain would “demand” strict oversight. In virtually the next breath, she said government should “get out of the way” of American business.


In the end, the debate did not change the essential truth of Ms. Palin’s candidacy: Mr. McCain made a wildly irresponsible choice that shattered the image he created for himself as the honest, seasoned, experienced man of principle and judgment. It was either an act of incredible cynicism or appallingly bad judgment.