Stop Saying Maverick! (And Other Palindrones)

Well, I didn’t watch the Canadian English leader’s debate. Why should I? We all know what would happen. The four least power-crazy candidates would (predictably and understandably) gang up on the blue-eyed Devil Child, Stephen Harper, and end up making him look more Presidential in the process. Notice that I did not say “Prime Ministerial”. Harper runs his government as if he were a neocon American President, not a populist PM responsive to the entire Parliament.

No, instead I watched the ridiculous display that was the American VP debate. Before, I get into it, here’s one prediction of how it would go down:

Well, what can I say? How sad is it that in what is supposed to be an open job interview for the chair next to the most powerful position in the history of humanity, one can declare success if one has simply failed to make a bleeding idiot out of oneself? Imagine if you went into a job interview and you just barely avoided an intellectual meltdown; would you expect to get the job? Yet this is how the spinners are portraying Sarah Palin’s performance.

This is what Sarah Palin represents: the final absolute lowering of expectations.

In Canada, we (thank Zod!) still have a sense of wanting to be led by men and women who are better than we are: more eloquent, more learned, stronger, bolder, more robust and certainly more experienced in matters of import. In general, we don’t care if our leader shops at our stores or if his kids play hockey with our kids. What we most care about is that he (or she) is the best our society can produce. I think it’s fair to say that most nations view their leaders the same way.

Yet that is most certainly not the case in the USA. Joe Biden clearly had to hold himself back from outshining Palin, lest he be perceived as being too mean on the “little lady”. She, on the other hand, peppered her delivery with so much awful, folksy pablum that I actually spat out my coffee at several moments. “Doggone it”? “Joe Six Pack”? Sending a “shout out” to her peeps? Winking at the camera? Is “also” the Alaskan equivalent of “eh” or “uh”? And how many times did she refer to herself and John McCain as “mavericks”? Fifty? A hundred? All so bloody sickening.

A lot of her defenders are claiming that she isn’t dumb, she’s just inexperienced. Well, I’m sorry. The definition of “dumb” has clearly been changed since I first learned it. There are lowered expectations all around, it seems. This woman is governor of an American state, and possibly two steps away from being the freaking President of the United States of America. For people who have her ambition and pedigree, we apply a more stringent definition of “dumb”.

If she were one of my undergrad students, I’d give her a C+ for her demonstrated understanding of issues. The “+” is because I’m known to be generous. She clearly doesn’t understand economics. (Neither does McCain, for that matter.) She doesn’t seem to know the names of the Generals she keeps quoting. I don’t recall a single time she actually spoke in a full sentence, or for that matter answered a question directly.

But the biggest, scariest moment for me was when she professed to agree with Dick Cheney, that the Vice President is more a part of the legislative body than the executive body. Luckily, Biden slapped her down hard on that one. The last thing America –and the rest of us– needs is another Vice President eager to exert power beyond his or her tiny mandate.

Republican Kathleen Parker has a nice post mortem on the debate, aptly titled “She Won Fersure, Also.” And Guardian writer Oliver Burkeman live-blogged the debate with some hilarity here.

But by far the funniest –and saddest– post-debate moment is Faux News’ attempt at questioning a “focus group”. Watch carefully. This is no focus group. It’s a bunch of paid (poor) actors who’ve been poached from an infomercial!

And my grade 9 English teacher, Harold Lass, sends us this:

So who won? Does it matter? I’ll say this: of the four candidates involved in the current struggle for the White House, it’s clear to me that Joe Biden is the most Presidential, and Sarah Palin is the least.