What Will We Do With Them Now?
(Oct.3, St. Louis, MO) Living in a country where more people vote for American Idol than for the President of the United States, it was encouraging, perhaps, that an estimated 62 millions of us tuned in to watch. Does this represent real ‘interest’ on the part of the American voter given the gravity of our current domestic and international profound problems or, did the curiosity factor draw the viewers in. Clearly, a personality, a character, a woman from relative national obscurity – Sarah Palin – no doubt appealed to our style over substance, celebrity obsessed, superficial, politically apathetic society.
While there was indeed tremendous pressure on the Republican VP candidate, Alaska’s Governor, Sarah Palin, Democratic Senator, Joe Biden of Delaware faced a significant challenge as well. How would Senator Biden, the well versed, articulate, veteran Washington insider, intimately familiar with a broad range of issues both foreign and domestic contend with the grossly inexperienced though intelligent, confident novice on the national stage, Governor Palin?
Without being sexist or biased, to avoid the fact of the stark physical contrasts between the two is virtually impossible. Objectivity could only be maintained if one were to have never seen photos of either candidate and only read the transcript of the debate. Objectively, substance, Biden, outscored Palin. The Governor, the polar opposite, no doubt trounced in the subjective, but our cultural, style oriented citizenry.
Arguably not since the first televised Presidential debate in 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, was the visual, physical contrast more apparent. How could anyone doubt that a woman who first took the stage in beauty pageants, prancing around in a bathing suit having every aspect of her body “judged”, would not be capable of at least holding her own armed with only her appearance and memorized talking points? There was no doubt that the 65 year old, generic white male creature of Senate would, if he so chose, to slam Palin on substance.
Remarkably each rose to their own specific challenges. That was a disappointment to many for various reasons. Palin’s vapid answers and folksy asides were a not well received by independent minded, concerned voters as much as Biden’s use of legalese, Senate-speak, legislation nuance and minutia turned off the same voters.
The Democratic and Republican tickets appear, on the surface as well as deeper still, to be inverse, converse, disjointed opposites. The Senate veteran McCain atop the GOP ticket with the sassy Palin at his side versus the new-comer, spry, energetic freshman Senator Obama for the Dems, paired with the Senatorial warhorse Biden. Considering, subjectively and objectively, the possible duos would arguably give each party a better package. Reverse the Republicans, Palin for President with VP McCain; Biden atop the ticket with Obama as his running mate. The inverse universe, cosmic, alternate political reality would present the “dream ticket” of Obama – Palin. They would give the old boys, Biden – McCain a real run for the money.
The first and only Vice Presidential debate is now history: ready to be scrutinized, analyzed, criticized, parsed, probed and deconstructed by pundits, journalists, editorialists, commentators , historians, comedians, from this day forward. Any worthy, thoughtful critique will be left for those farther removed from the present, real time, hyped-up, manic 24 hour new cycle reviews.
Beyond all that, on November 4th, American voters will have to make a choice. The choices are the choices, the facts the facts. In a Rumsfeldesqueian summary we, the American voters, must “Go to vote with the candidates we have.”
We will either wake up and think or dismissively toss the dice.
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