Friday, October 3, 2008

Where Have All the Standards Gone?

And on the heels of Kristen's awesome Palin/Morgan/generational commentary this morning, here's one from my fellow graduate of Progressive Women's Voices program, Avis A. Jones-DeWeever:

Where Have Our Standards Gone?

Sarah Palin survived the debate, but her down-home message can do little to reassure voters who have every reason to demand a change of direction.

What does it say about a nation, when the true take away message from a vice-presidential debate is that one of its participants actually does have the ability to string together a series of coherent sentences? Talk about the poverty of low-expectations. Sure, Sarah Palin made it through last night without adding to her long list of cringe inducing moments. But for a nation facing its greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, two sustained wars, and the lingering concern of the whereabouts and activities of Osama Bin Laden, being folksy just isn’t good enough. Competence matters. And clearly, Palin falls short.

Over and over, Governor Palin evaded questions, returned to the well-worn “Maverick” crutch, and sang the same ole’ Republican tune about the evils of government. But it’s hard to sell the tired anti-government spiel when your running mate pseudo-suspends his campaign to make sure that very government comes to the rescue of interconnected economies here and abroad.

It is true though, that Palin had her moments. She was most effective when she directed barbs against her opponents. But despite the provocation, Senator Joe Biden refused to rise to the bait and avoided any patronizing comments, focusing steadily on why Barack Obama should be president and not John McCain.

Still, what sort of a Maverick would pass up the opportunity to painstakingly spell out how her ideas differ from the status quo? Despite ample opportunity, time and time again, the governor failed to specify just how a McCain/Palin administration would differ in any substantive way from the debacle of the Bush/Cheney years. Whether it be the issue of making permanent the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans, or reviving America’s badly tarnished image around the world, the McPalin Express is easing on down the tracks laid by their woefully unpopular Republican leader. Maverick or not, Palin failed to provide any daylight between the domestic and foreign policy failings of the Bush Administration and just where she and John McCain plan to take the nation in the critical years ahead.

If there is one thing we’ve learned since the earliest of days of this historic electoral season, it is the hard and fast fact that Americans want change. And for good reason. Over the past eight years we’ve gone from peace and prosperity to none of the above. In this year alone, we’ve lost over 600,000 jobs, hit a five-year high unemployment rate, and had millions of families face the personal tragedy of foreclosure. In Iraq we’ve seen the number of American deaths top 4,000, had over 30,000 suffer injuries, and approached a record number of former service men and women who could no longer live with the lingering horrors of war; and as a result, took their own lives.

It’s time for this insanity to end.

Palin may have very well saved her political future from going down Dan Quayle’s road to political oblivion—that is if she avoids like the plague any future in-depth interviews inclusive of follow-up questions that press for specificity. But in the end, of the two candidates who took the stage last night, only one displayed a mastery of the facts, articulated clear plans for the nation’s precarious days ahead, and spoke genuinely of the challenges of raising a family in uncertain and unfortunate times. Joe Biden passed that bar and kept his ticket on the road to success.

For all her winks, smiles, and good-ole-girl vernacular, Palin failed to make a convincing case for McCain’s faltering campaign. We’ve already seen what it’s like to have Joe Six-Pack and a Grumpy Old Man run the nation. Reversing the order on the ticket and changing Joe to Jane, just isn’t good enough.

-By Avis A. Jones-DeWeever for the Women's Media Center. The WMC is a non-profit organization founded by Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and Robin Morgan, dedicated to making the female half of the world visible and powerful in the media.


Kristen said...

Great article! I especially loved this:

"Still, what sort of a Maverick would pass up the opportunity to painstakingly spell out how her ideas differ from the status quo? Despite ample opportunity, time and time again, the governor failed to specify just how a McCain/Palin administration would differ in any substantive way from the debacle of the Bush/Cheney years."

It just worries me that there may be a significant portion of the population who will take her and McCain's "maverick" mantra at face value. If you looked at substance instead of style, there was no doubt that Biden one the debate by a landslide. And if you look at style, well, I just don't think a bunch of winks and a permanent smile really adds up to much.

Annie said...

Palin isn't running for president. McCain is. She couldn't exactly make up a policy for him, could she?

Yeah, she saved her career. But the emptiness and rhetoric are McCain's fault, not hers.

I thought they both did a good job of propping the "big guys" which is the VP's true job. Obama and McCain have to set the tone and dictate the message. Palin had no real message because McCain has no real message.

Brianna J said...

"For all her winks, smiles, and good-ole-girl vernacular,..."

Isn't this basically the same platform that Bush was elected on?

I think that lots of people, even those who no longer like Bush, don't see the connection between the 'good-ole-person' persona, and incompetence. Those people were impressed with Palin's debate performance.

So Kristen is right to worry. People do take it at face value.

cathy said...

McCain is running for president not Palin! I wish the media would realize this. I thought they did a fantastic job of supporting it.

Anonymous said...

In response to "Palin isn't running for president:"

No, she's not running for president. Thankfully.

However, the point here is that she's bidding for the second most powerful job in the country. That that person should be a competent politician--capable of providing guidance and intelligent opinion. To, at the very least, be capable of providing original thought.

Palin did not demonstrate that during the debate. All she demonstrated was that she was capable of regurgitating the lines she'd memorized before. And because of the structure of the debate, she was deemed by the GOP to have done "well." That is what I interpreted Girl with Pen's post to be about.

On another note, there is no reason to not take Palin seriously. And if we are going to regard her words as more than empty cheerleading talk, than I'm with Friedman on this one:

It was when she turned to Biden and declared: “You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.”

What an awful statement. Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan. And yet, at the same time, she declared that Americans who pay their fair share of taxes to support all those government-led endeavors should not be considered patriotic.

(From "Palin's Kind of Patriotism.")

Anonymous said...

If Hillary had been picked as V.P. she would have been held to a higher standard by the media and voters than Palin has. It was Palin that criticized Hillary for playing the gender card during the primary. She said that women will always be scrutinized more than men and women should be twice as good. I guess her standards do not apply to herself.

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She couldn't exactly make up a policy for him, could she?


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I think that Palin is an idiot. She should stay out of the lime light if she truly wanted to help McCain. American need change and Palin's smiles and winks are not going to accomplish what our country needs.

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