I have had a few fingers wagged at me for being enthusiastic about the candidacy of Sarah ‘Annie Oakley’ Palin, and I have to admit that after Thursday’s debate–and losing the election– maybe I’ll have egg on my face and I’ll have to watch her skulk back North with her tail between her legs.
However, it strikes me that if she is like Annie in the famous musical, Joe Biden is actually pretty much like Frank Butler. Butler, you may remember, is the show’s already established sharp shooter. He’s big, he’s handsome, he’s patronizing– but he’s also arrogant and dumb. He’s always treating the little lady like an upstart, and being upstaged by her because he never quite hits the target.
Now, not wishing to take sides or tell anyone how to vote since that is really, really not allowed in this country where free speech is valued, I thought it would be a good thing to put down here a link which chronicles Joe Biden’s speeches so far in the campaign. How lucky we are to have a candidate who is right up to speed on all the issues, and such a shrewd campaigner.
He’s not in favor of clean coal–and says so in big coal states like Pennsylvania and Ohio that are going through an employment crunch. Smart move! He not only thinks Sarah Palin pretty but has said his own running mate is the first Afro American who is ‘good looking and clean.’ Just a little bit sexist and racist? Naah. That’s the sort of comment that will appeal to all those down home folksy folks in the blue collar states. He’s said one of his own sides’ anti-McCain ads was terrible (without actually seeing it first) But he’s just like Hilary. He’s landed in the midst of sniper fire too…whoops, not really. He also thinks his running mate should have chosen Hilary Clinton instead of him, and best of all, seriously tells the country that in the Wall Street crash of ’29 President Roosevelt went on national TV to reassure the country. The only problem is, Herbert Hoover was president then and TV hadn’t been invented yet.
Never mind. He’s a great guy! He’s a working class hero from Scranton don’t you know! If he’s not up to speed on all the details, that doesn’t matter. After all, he’s only going to be Vice President. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, can’t even sneeze without a hanky and she’s ‘obviously an incompetent, fundamentalist, gun totin’ ditzy piece of Barbie doll trailer trash…
It will be interesting to see the debate on Thursday. I just wish they’d stand back to back and sing “Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you…”
I am beginning to feel sorry for her. Katie Couric is not exactly a fire-breathing dragon lady, and Palin performed very badly. The truth is sometimes self evident. She simply wasn’t ready for this. She may be a nice lady, a great part of the Life movement, a good politician, et cetera, but she was not up to this gig and McCain chose rashly. It may well cost him the election and cost the Life movement a nomination to the supreme court. Obama had been behind in many of the polls but he keeps sneaking up. I think that after Bush Americans do want a well spoken President. Iraq looks like a blunder by a man of poor grammar, and the economy is tanking. Folksiness aside, I think Americans want a President of ideas and sound judgement, and how ‘smart’ one sounds will matter.But in the end, be consoled that this is not the end of the world. The only thing this will cost us is a moderate justice (because the democrats wouldn’t have confirmed a really solid Lifer anyway).But I wouldn’t say you had egg on your face. Misplaced enthusiasms, yes. Over exuberance and naivete, yes. Failure to really, really look at a candidate before you were swept away by her touching ‘narrative’, yes. But then, no less than John McCain was swept away by her narrative, and narratives do matter!But she simply isn’t ready. Someone like Christine Todd Whitman, or that Steele guy, would’ve been ready. It was simply a poor choice at a time when Americans cannot tolerate any more poor choices.
But then, on Thursday she may come through with flying colors. She may come across as the bright young thing, the new voice in politics, the fresh outsider who makes Joe Biden look like somebody’s dumb uncle.Let’s face it Marcus, her interview with Couric had some down moments, but I would have loved to have seen all the footage. I’ve worked in TV and I know how an editor can emphasize whatever they want to.Every politician gets caught now and again, but why the media silence on Biden’s gaffes? Imagine the howls if Palin had said FDR spoke to the nation in 1929 on TV? Imagine the laughter if she said her copter was shot down in Iraq (and wasn’t) Imagine the ridicule if she said one of her own ads was ‘terrible’ or that McCain should have chosen somebody else or that Mitt Romney would have been a better VP choice.But no, Uncle Joe’s just a genial old guy that everybody loves, and isn’t it cute when he opens mouth and inserts foot?There is a fair bit of coverage already from the liberal press saying that Palin might win on Thursday, and that all she has to do to win is show up and not “drool or speak in tongues”. They’re even getting paranoid and saying the Couric interview was deliberately messed up to lower expectations so she will win the debate.I will be totally honest–I think she should have had another four years of experience and grooming, but she’s not as dumb as she’s made out. She’s not as inarticulate as she’s made out and I think it will be a mistake to underestimate her.
Fr. L,On the C student front, you invoked Lincoln. We should remember what a polished orator Lincoln was, and his vast command of language and grammar. How Reagan was ‘the great communicator’.In your contrast you are missing that Biden has many, many hours of footage of conversation with tough journalists like Tim Russert. Biden has been the brunt of jokes for his run on sentences and occasional gaffes. But his gaffes are occasional and Palin makes him look like Thomas Jefferson in contrast.I hope that you’re right that Palin, having cut her teeth in this series of 1:1 interviews with the Katie Courics and Gibsons of the world will be ready to take Biden on in debate.For Biden’s part, well, if I am feeling sorry for Palin than I am sure the rest of the world is too. If he is too tough on her he will look bad. If he is too soft he risks a Sarahcuda come back. It’s a delicate balance for him too.You should tell your students that Grammar MattersWords MatterProse MattersOratory MattersIf a man with good grammar makes a mistake he is perceived to be a man who has made a mistake. If a man with poor grammar makes a mistake he is perceived to be an idiot.
Again, I’ll be very honest, I think Palin stumbles when she is away from her text, but so does everyone. Have you seen some of the clips of Obama without his teleprompter? It’s hard for anyone to think fast on their feet and be articulate and clear–especially when they know the interviewer is laying every sort of trap for them possible.Take Palin’s recent seeming equivocation when Couric asked her what papers she reads: If she names them she may be in trouble for ‘supporting’ one paper or magazine or another. She’s thinking is this some other kind of trick question? If I mention some and leave out others will they paint me to be either intellectual and out of touch (or lying ’cause they know I’m dumb) or if I say ‘Readers’ Digest’ and ‘People’ magazine will I be painted as stupid? What if I say I don’t read papers and magazines, I get my news from the TV, radio and internet? How will that go down?So they all make mistakes when on their feet.What does impress me is Palin’s ability to communicate to ordinary people. She’s a good orator. She has an instinct for timing, and even her critics say she has a very shrewd political instinct. She knows when the moment is right. She has humor, she doesn’t take herself that seriously and she doesn’t whine. She has a thick skin.In fact I think she is actually a good communicator like Reagan and Churchill and Thatcher and (apparently) Lincoln.But maybe I’m wrong. I think the debate tomorrow night will reveal whether she is a force to be reckoned with and eventually a national political figure or whether she’ll flub completely and slope on home to Alaska after the election
I think you’re viewing her through ‘rose colored glasses’. You’re already quite fond of her so you are making some excuses for her fumbles and pinning some of the blame on the press. The answer to Couric with regard to the financial bailout was a huge, huge verbal blunder. It is a hot button issue right now and she really blew it. She’s also disagreed with McCain on record and had to ‘correct’ herself for the record after the fact. She offered him a temporary boost, but now she’s a liability because she wasn’t really ready.
I will preface what I’m going to say by admitting that I will vote for McCain–mainly because he does take a stronger stance on most life issues than does the opponent and because I think he understands the capriciousness and danger of the terrorism struggle better than does the opponent. Having said that, I still think his choice of Sarah Palin was wreckless. My intuition of Sarah Palin is that she is not even particularly interested in foreign affairs and probably not economics. I read where someone else said that you can bone up on some things in a short period of time and get away with it, but in this complex world, we need leaders who have studied, agonized, and cared deeply about these issues in order to manage our nation in this cruel world. I don’t doubt her abilities to multi-task, etc., but I still think she’s hiding behind her communications training. I did read an article in which some of her political opponents in Alaska said that no one should underestimate Sarah Palin, that indeed the political landscape in Alaska is littered with those who did underestimate her. But that is Alaska–not the U. S. Presidency.I will also admit that the media is so rude and is making short work of her. They don’t play fair.I recall the Republican convention when McCain was so elated at his selection. He said, “She is exactly what _I_ need.” He didn’t say she is exactly what the country needs. It was a very telling comment, and one that I cannot get out of my mind.This election scares me more than it excites me. On the one hand, I’m afraid for our country’s safety if Obama wins; I’m also fearful that the unborn and the sick old folks will have no one to speak for them. I’m also afraid that the nuclear family, with a married mother and father will be pushed aside as just another alternative. On the other hand, I’m afraid that if McCain wins, our nation will still be in the global “dog house.” I’m also afraid that racial relations will deteriorate if McCain wins. And let’s not get started on the economy.There you have it. We’re in one fine mess, I’m afraid.
I should add that I do see your point. Watching some Obama interviews he does develop a sort of near stutter, a sort of hesitating broken speech. McCain is probably a bit stronger on the 1:1 discussion format. But neither of them flounders, stumbles, or blunders. Oratory, debate, and discussion are such critical skills for our political leaders to have. It’s really a must have skill. As Arnold would say ‘There’s no two ways about it’!
Oh, you guys… In the greater scheme of things (God’s scheme, that is), none of this is going to seem quite SO important. We’re all guilty of poor grammar at times; we’re all guilty of idiocy at times; we’re all guilty… Let’s get back to how to dialogue with women seeking abortion! Sometimes it pays to get out of the intellectual clouds and into the trenches.
Hi Father!Wow, I so agree with you on this election! I adore Sarah Palin–even though she’s not the most polished one in the race, she’s genuine and seems to have a good head on her shoulders. I mean, she’s not only survived that gaggle of kids she’s got, she’s thrived and managed to do it beautifully and intelligently. She’s quite a woman. I believe she’ll be a great leader–she just needs to learn a couple more facts here and there. But couldn’t we all do with a little more learning on some matter or another?Elizabeth
Well Father Longenecker…she did well, didn’t she?Thanks be to God – I know there was a lot of prayer support behind her.Blessings
“It was simply a poor choice at a time when Americans cannot tolerate any more poor choices.”Agreed.Why select Senator Biden whose foreign policy judgments were atrocious throughout the 80’s (Cold War) and 90’s (first Gulf War)? And to top it off, he voted for the 2003 Iraq invasion, then renounced support for it claiming that he never supported it in the first place. He’s perfectly backwards.As for the debate, loved the dig at Couric and her selective editing.
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