Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thursday, bloody Thursday

There will be blood this Thurday. But whose? I have hard time believing it'll be Biden's, given Palin's recent faceplants. Still, television's a visual medium and Palin's a visual miracle.

Andrew Halco has some choices words about Palin. He ran against her in the 2006 gubernatorial election and got a hands-on experience with the Barracuda. He has debated her 12 times. 12 times. That officially makes debating her greatest qualification, believe it or not. He has this to say:

"Palin is a master of the nonanswer. She can turn a 60-second response to a query about her specific solutions to healthcare challenges into a folksy story about how she's met people on the campaign trail who face healthcare challenges. All without uttering a word about her public-policy solutions to healthcare challenges."

While she will rely on "glittering generalities," the media won't buy her bullshit. Not because they have a long, proven record of tough journalism. They simply hate this woman--and not just Olbermann, Maddow and Matthews. Many respected moderates and conservatives have sunk their fangs into Palin:
David Ignatius (conservative Washington Post columnist): "In the military culture that shaped John McCain, there is no more important responsibility than the promotion boards that select the right officers for top positions of command. ... McCain made the most important command decision of his life when he chose Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee. Two weeks later, it is still puzzling that he selected a person who, for all her admirable qualities, is not prepared by experience or interest to be commander in chief. No promotion board in history would have made such a decision."

Romesh Ratnesar (Time reporter): "But we should stop pretending that she is ready now or anytime in the foreseeable future to be Commander-in-Chief."

Kathleen Parker (National Review's conservative columnist): "She's out of her league ... Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons ..."

Fareed Zakaria (centrist Newsweek columnist and author): "Will someone please put Sarah Palin out of her agony? Is it too much to ask that she come to realize that she wants, in that wonderful phrase in American politics, "to spend more time with her family"? ... to choose Sara Palin to be his running mate is fundamentally irresponsible."

Rod Dreher (Conservative blogger/columnist): "Palin just doesn't know what she's talking about. ... Look, I don't think Palin is dim by any stretch, and I admire many of her qualities. It's just that she's just in way, way over her head. ... Palin's just babbling. She makes George W. Bush sound like Cicero."

David Brooks (NYT's avid McCain fan): "Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, sheĆ¢€™d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness. (and on ABC) I believe with expert coaching she will be able 'to rise to the level of mediocrity.'"

David Frum (conservative columnist): "Ms. Palin is a bold pick, and probably a shrewd one. It's not nearly so clear that she is a responsible pick, or a wise one. ... How serious can [McCain] be, if he would place such a neophyte second in line to the presidency? ... I think she has ... proven that she is not up to the job of being president."

Dan Morgan (conservative blogger): "At first I was really pulling for Palin. So many of us libertarian-conservatives are hoping for a new Reagan to appear, and perhaps she was a female Reagan coming down from Alaska to help re-establish limited government and to fight for freedom. But now that Palin has given several interviews it has become painfully obvious that she is not VP material. I truly hate to say that. ... My advice to her is to stop humiliating herself ... and go back to being Governor of Alaska where you were doing just fine."

Carl Bernstein (Pulitzer-winning journalist): "Indeed, no presidential nominee of either party in the last century has seemed so willing to endanger the country's security as McCain in his reckless choice of a running mate. ... John McCain is a serious man, as anyone who has spent time with him knows. But he has not run the kind of serious campaign he once promised. Not for the first time, as many of his fellow Republicans (as opposed to friendly reporters and sympathetic Democrats) had long maintained, McCain's more reckless inclinations and lesser impulses prevailed. "

Andrew Sullivan (conservatige blogger turned Obama fan): "She is who she is: an unqualified fundamentalist liar with no knowledge of or experience in national domestic or foreign policy. And McCain had absolutely no idea who she was when he picked her."

3 beers for democracy (The Daily Northwestern 9/26/08)

On Wednesday, John McCain decided to suspend his campaign to focus on the financial apocalypse. He asked Barack Obama to do the same. Of course, this would require the postponement of tonight's scheduled debate. At first glance, this might resemble bold leadership. But the show better go on tonight, and I hope nobody confuses McCain's actions with resolve.

This shenanigan is just a political parlor trick, and not a very good one. It is what we do every Wednesday night when there's a paper due on Friday: e-mail the professor, come up with some dramatic excuse, and ask for an extension.

To their credit, McCain and his handlers know the lay of the land. They see he cannot emerge from the debate victorious. He has a 10 percent chance of winning the issues game, but a 90 percent chance of winning the meaningless gestures game. Now, if Obama mops the floor with him tonight, McCain can claim he was too busy dealing with a national crisis to prepare for such a charade. Or he can just not show up. With McCain's confession that he knows little about the economy, I don't think anybody will buy his bravado.

So in honor of this week's biggest joke, I'll raise a glass to him tonight during my Debate Drinking Game. If, for some reason, you have nothing better to do on a Friday night, check out some of the rules below. All you need is a case of beer, a shot glass for each player, and a bit of love for democracy. (Please drink as you would vote: responsibly and often.)

Take one shot whenever McCain says "POW" or "my friends," and do the same for whenever Obama mentions "change." This alone will get lightweights drunk, but if you're into politics, you're probably into drinking. The two go hand-in-hand for the sake of everybody's sanity.

Here, it gets a bit boozy: Take two shots when McCain refers to the "transcendental challenge of Islamic extremism," promises to "pursue Bin Laden to the gates of hell," or makes an old age gaffe (confusing Sunni and Shi'a or referring to Joe Lieberman as a Democrat). Whenever a candidate refuses to answer a hypothetical question, also take two shots.

Then there are the rare three shotters: if Obama can squeeze in McCain's "the fundamentals of our economy are strong" quote, if Jim Lehrer must repeat a question to get a real answer, or if someone in the audience yawns. Also, to make this fair and balanced, take four shots if Obama mentions policy specifics. He never does that, so this shouldn't be too dangerous a rule.

As with any drinking game, there must be some home runs. For these instances, finish your beer. If McCain winks at Palin, drink. If Obama puts on his sunglasses after a witty one-liner, drink. And if Hillary storms the stage and mauls anybody with her harpy claws before turning them into stone, drink. I wouldn't blame her; she's had a tough year.

My friends, you will not walk away from this transcendental challenge of drinking extremism sober. And when the game gets too hard, don't forget you can call timeout and take a breather. If McCain can do it, so can you.

Who I are (The Daily Northwestern 9/22/08)

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a pretty liberal guy. I like Barack Obama, have read his books and enjoy puns involving his name--"Barack you like a hurricane" being my favorite. Like many fellow Democrats, I worship and was educated by The West Wing. It is my religion, even on Facebook. In regular conversation, I refer to the star of the show as President Josiah Bartlet. I once cited the Bartlet Administration in an essay because I have a problem. I even concocted a vast and complex West Wing drinking game because I might have two problems.

But when the show ended, I needed to find a new fix. I started watching real life, specifically the corrupt, embarrassing and funny part that makes American Idol look like the world's foremost democracy: presidential politics.

I study this crap like the rest of America studies baseball, and these next two months are the World Series. But I don't want to write a column that belongs on some floozy leftist blog. I want to write about the Bud Light Play of the Day--no matter which team makes--because politics is my national pastime.