Mark Steyn has returned to his beat…the world. This week, it’s Biden-Palin, as you can guess, and he’s in love with a girl called Sarah.
That’s where Sarah Palin scored in the vice-presidential showdown. A lot of the grandees in the post-debate analysis reviewed the lyrics and missed the music. Whereas, I would wager, a big chunk of uncommitted voters out in TV land listened to Gov. Palin, and liked the tune they were hearing. If you’re one of those coastal feminists who despise Alaska’s sweetheart as a chillbilly breeder whose knowledge of foreign policy is as full of holes as the last moose to make the mistake of strolling past her deck, Thursday night’s folksy performance isn’t going to change your view. But, if your contempt for her wasn’t already chiseled in granite, she came over as genuine, confident …and different. Change you can believe in, to coin a phrase.
I was a bit alarmed at first. I hadn’t seen her for awhile, not since the halfwits at the McCain campaign walled her up in the witness protection program and permitted visitations only by selected poobahs of the Metamucil networks. When she walked out on stage, her famous reach-for-the-skies up-do seemed a bit subdued and earthbound, like a low-budget remake of the famous scene in “There’s Something About Mary.” Then she started speaking. The lyrics were workmanlike, but the music was effective.
Read it all. And welcome back, Mr. S.
Oh, and if you were waiting for the Volgi’s opinion on the debate, apologies for keeping you hanging. Confucius* says: Senator Biden’s appearance was the most disciplined and effective the Volgi has ever seen from him. Perhaps consequently, though, it was also the most boring. Very, very little of Biden’s incandescent charm was on display, and that’s probably a win for his ticket because when he’s relaxed, he can’t stop himself from talking, and he says completely insane things. As far as what he said, he sounded authoritative and probably won votes on that basis. Of course, much of what he said was a bizarre mélange of senatorial squid ink, errors, and flat-out lies. He did however, stifle the appearances of the alter egos that would have killed him. Smarmy Joe and his dripping condescension was almost entirely absent, occasionally flashing through in a blindingly veneered smirk before being stuffed back down into the Hole with Evil Joe who only broke out once, delivering a nonsensical tirade against the Great Satan, Dick Cheney, beneath a brow strangely unfurrowed by the grace of botulinum toxin.
Governor Palin wasn’t exactly perfect in the content department either, frequently settling for vacuous populist platitudes when a sharper argument was called for. (“Predatory lenders?” Oy.) That said, where she did well (e.g., spitting Biden like a pig on the generals’ approach to an Afghan surge), she did so well that one suspects that her newness to the national stage is her main handicap so far. (Aside from her accent and general über-American demeanor, which drives whole sections of the country, mostly on the coasts, utterly mad.) As a communicator, she’s incredibly effective, and if she can raise her content to the level of her presentation, she could be an incredibly formidable figure for years to come.
At any rate, it was probably mostly a wash, with Biden looking boringly serious and spewing (semi-bogus) foreign-policy expertise, and Palin undoing the previous weeks’ damaging appearances. If there’s a shift, it’ll be towards Palin on the basis of her charisma and, frankly, her populism, given that the people who haven’t made up their minds already are not deeply engaged in politics, and are likely looking for someone to blame for the financial crisis. Palin is the person on either ticket least like a Washington panjandrum or Wall Street banker and that, plus her legitimate claim to be a hard-edged reformer, makes her look like the most credible figure to the apolitical man in the street. (Several pollsters on television claimed the debate would shift the polls towards the GOP, but take them as always cum grano salis.)
Oh, wait, that’s not Steyn, that’s Seth Rogen. Close enough for government work.
*For those who came in late: Confucius (孔夫子) is the name of the Gormogons’ Œcumenical Volgi.
Don’t ask impertinent questions like that jackass Adept Lu.