Sarah Palin’s debate performance benefits from low expectations — but is that okay?

One of the points that many of the blogerati are missing re: last night’s debate is that Palin is not only just mouthing the words she’s been given, she hasn’t shown any particular views in the past that would support these positions. 

Any way you look it you lose

Here's to you Mrs. Palin: any way you look at it you lose

Although a social conservative, she has said (and probably thought) little re: national policy — the economy, the War — in the past.  And, in her state the majority of voters are Independents – they don’t have the stomach for the kind of hard partisanship that she has been showing on the stump (see excellent NYer article on Palin and Alaska).  Although a Republican in name, she has become a cheerleader leading the cheers of the away team.  I kind of feel sorry for her. 

Someone should rewind to the first Bush vs. Gore debate in 2000. A lot of similarities – Bush starting out with the benefit of low expectations, avoiding direct answers to the questions, using folksy talk and generally sticking to prepared points.   And the pundits saying “nice job.” 

But, why is so much of the country – and many in the MSM – okay with low expectations? Bush partly won the presidency because he managed to overcome his “low expectations” and the press played right along. Given this momentous time can’t we all have high expectations re: ALL of our elected officials? Can’t that be the standard? Instead of constantly quoting FDR, TDR and Harry Truman why can’t we have people who perform to their standards? Don’t we as citizens deserve it?

Biden Wins but …
There is no question that Biden won this debate and he made some great points about McCain’s views, including McCain’s flawed position on Iraq. But I still think both Obama and Biden have not been forceful enough on their Iraq strategy: the candidates are still playing within the Republicans’ frame of “defeat” vs. “victory.” You can’t just keep repeating that McCain was wrong in the PAST about Iraq. Biden should have made the point that Obama is confident of “victory” but that it will only come if we push the Iraqis into a timetable. McCain’s plan is to sit around and wait for the Iraqis to get their act together (Palin expressed this view in her definition of “victory”). Obama and Biden have to explain that this is not leadership. We don’t wait for the other guy, we ACT. Republicans want to WAIT for victory to somehow show up some day in a nice shiny package. But the Iraqis will not have any incentive to make the hard choices necessary to self govern under McCain’s strategy. Stating this difference will change the frame and poke a huge IED sized hole in their “Democrats want to raise the white flag” rhetoric.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Wordpress Political Blogs

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