Tag Archives: Joe Biden

Joe Biden is Adorable

I highly recommend this Politico profile. Joe Biden as president should strike fear into the hearts of all right-thinking men and women, but I can’t help liking the guy.


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Answer the Question

At the American Spectator, Jay Homnick defends Palin’s inability to name a single Supreme Court case other than Roe:

In a pre-debate forum on CNN, a number of participants were jabbing Palin for being unable to tell Katie Couric of a single Supreme Court decision other that Roe v. Wade that she disliked. At this point Klein jumped in to trump them with a much more substantive critique. What was so embarrassing, he said, was that she disagreed with Roe but stated that she believed there is a right to privacy in the Constitution. This despite the fact that the decision in Roe v. Wade was based on the premise that there is a Constitutional right to privacy! None of the other panelists challenged Klein on this point. The viewer was left to conclude that only a neophyte or an airhead could think both those things were true.

In truth, Klein is unmasked as an idiot, as behind the times, behind the learning curve and completely out of touch. (I don’t include “boorish,” because he needs no unmasking in that area: simply read any of his columns at random.) The sitting Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, believes that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided but that a right to privacy does exist.

This trite “right back at you” formulation doesn’t do a thing to enhance Palin’s credibility. Incidentally, I agree completely with Homnick on the privacy issue, but of course Joe Klein’s views on constitutional jurisprudence are completely irrelevant to the election. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, may become Vice President in just over a month. As John McCain’s second, I imagine she’ll have some input on possible Supreme Court appointees. If – God forbid – she takes over as President, she’ll be the one making Supreme Court appointments. All this suggests she should have some familiarity with our constitutional history.

The Palin pick has forced conservatives to go to absurd lengths to defend the governor’s qualifications, no matter how foolish her public statements may be. The flubbed Bush Doctrine response, for example, provoked howls of outrage from the Right, who rushed to assure us that the issue was simply too complex (I thought Bush didn’t do nuance?) to explain in such a short Q&A segment. Never mind the fact that anyone reasonably acquainted with our nation’s foreign policy should be able to at least summarize the controversy. Never mind the fact that Palin’s deer-in-the-headlights look and incoherent response revealed all you need to know about her own ignorance.

Now that we’ve finished applauding Palin for “clearing” the bar (small hurdle? slight incline? bump in the road?) during last night’s debate, perhaps we should go back to the question of her fitness for the Vice Presidency. No one doubts her talent for political theater, but – doggone it! – her substantive responses were like a parody of GOP talking points. “Wave the white flag of surrender?” Really? Perhaps she scribbled that one on her palms with magic marker right before the thing started.

Granted, Biden doesn’t have much to recommend either, but at least he projects a sense of minimal competency. Having never been president (you don’t say?), I can’t speak to the demands of office, but I get the sense that the day-to-day administrative stuff is pretty far-removed from our ideological dogfights. I don’t mean to imply that ideology is unimportant. However, Bush’s response to Katrina suggests that crisis management can sometimes be evaluated on its own merits rather than through some absurd ideological prism. In other words, if Palin is incompetent, the right instincts won’t matter on a whole host of issues that rarely get talked about during our intensely partisan election season.

Political considerations dictate Palin stay in the race – anyone who thinks McCain would risk an Eagleton ’72 scenario is kidding themselves – but her ability to govern is still lacking in any category except political theatrics. Mainstream conservatives have fallen for her head over heals so I’m sure Palin will have a bright future on the talk radio circuit, but that does little to reassure me she’s prepared for the Vice Presidency.

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Heartwrenching, Showstopping!

Really? I think exploitative and cheap are better adjectives for Biden’s decision to trot out his dead wife during the debate. You shouldn’t have to talk about deceased family members to get your points across.

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The Lesser Weevil

I offer no special insight into the mind of the American voter, but here are my thoughts on the debate in no particular order:

  1. This is the first Presidential or Vice Presidential debate I’ve watched all the way through. I’m not doing it again.
  2. Neither candidate screwed up monumentally.
  3. I still believe that these appearances are basically worthless.
  4. Both sides’ talking points get really old, really fast. Biden’s faux-populism, his goofy anecdotes about Scranton, Wilmington, and every Home Depot in between sound completely phony to my ears.
  5. Palin’s kitchen table talk was worse. She didn’t reach her previous nadir, but some of those answers were clearly strung-together from disjointed talking points; at times, she barely made sense.
  6. How do voters evaluate candidates’ competing claims on complex legislative issues? When Palin says Obama voted for a bill and Biden counters with a procedural argument, does that make any difference? How high is the public’s explanatory threshold?
  7. One of Gwen Ifill’s questions – “How would your administration differ from your principal’s if you were forced to take over?” – was pretty interesting. Biden dodged it completely, but Palin gave a substantive answer on her disagreement with McCain over drilling in ANWR.
  8. Biden, I think, was smart to direct most of his attacks at John McCain.
  9. Palin’s answer on anthropogenic global warming made no sense. If climate change isn’t man-made, what’s the point of putting regulations in place to reduce carbon emissions? It’s not like we can do much to alter “natural climate cycles.”
  10. If I hear Palin fall back on another variation of “McCain’s a maverick, damnit!” to answer a question, I may retch.
  11. Both candidates spent an inordinate amount of time professing their love for Israel. I found that slightly disconcerting.
  12. Biden argues like a college policy debater (“My A subpoint is X, my B subpoint is . . .”). He also tends to get lost in the weeds and lose the central thrust of his argument.
  13. Biden really enjoys talking about his own accomplishments. It sounded like he had to make a concerted effort to tie his themes back to Obama’s candidacy. Who’s at the top of this ticket, again?
  14. Two minute time limits suck. I’d prefer a more free-form, back-and-forth format that allows candidates time to elaborate on previous arguments.

Here’s what I didn’t like:

  1. Even after Iraq, interventionism remains the default position for both parties on foreign affairs. Joe Biden came off as particularly aggressive – I’m pretty sure he called for NATO intervention in Lebanon and Darfur. As for Palin – well, Pat Buchanan assures me she’s not a “neocon” . . .
  2. Biden should just admit he was wrong to vote for the Iraq War.
  3. I found Palin’s “wave the white flag and surrender” line incredibly obnoxious. What, exactly, constitutes victory at this point in the game?
  4. Watching Sarah Palin criticize Obama for noting that American troops and warplanes have inadvertently killed Afghani civilians was the low point of the night. Clearly, Obama’s statement is a factual assessment of the difficulties facing American troops in Afghanistan (it also happens to be a salutary reminder of the limits and consequences of military force), but Palin didn’t hesitate to score cheap political points. I thought it was incredibly callous to dismiss Afghani losses like that.

The Bottom Line: Palin performed adequately given her extremely low expectations. But a decent debate appearance wasn’t going to change my opinion on her suitability for the Vice Presidency. Her best lines came off as canned and memorized, and when she stumbled, she sounded totally incoherent. Biden’s phony populism was also pretty obnoxious, but his command of facts and figures manages to obscure some of his crazier ideas (deploying NATO troops to Lebanon?!?!!). For whatever reason, Biden also projects a tangible air of authority.

In response to an official blog query, the girlfriend quoted Lucky Jack Aubrey: “In the service, one must always choose the lesser of two weevils.” For the purposes of this debate, Biden was the lesser weevil.


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