Now that the Vice Presidential debate is over, it’s about time I get over Sarah Palin too. As a matter of fact, I am no longer interested in dedicating any significant amount of space on this blog to the Republican vice presidential nominee. Nevertheless, I will end by saying this: Both Joe Biden and Sarah Palin performed very well in last night’s debate. Joe Biden proved himself informed, capable, and uniquely situated to rebut John McCain’s claims of maverick grandeur. Furthermore, he instilled confidence in his ability to act as the nation’s steward.
At the same time, Sarah Palin did not crash and burn. She sounded confident, outperformed the low expectations, and hit all of the major talking points she had crammed in recent weeks. She was aided by the debate format where she was never asked to elaborate, explain her position, or specifically cite anything (Supreme Court decisions or newspapers she’s read). Rather, she was permitted great leeway to avoid answering the questions altogether and go straight to her talking points: Obama equals more taxes and bigger government, Alaska, Ned Flanders English, hockey moms and mavericks, and war. It didn’t matter whether what she said made any sense, what mattered was that these were words that average Americans could relate to.
My fundamental problem with this approach is that it treats “average” Americans as idiots — as Pavlovian dogs who will salivate at the very mention of key words. Continue reading