The ticker at the bottom of the debate is the best development ever. It’s like crack for political junkies.
I’m not sure I can get a feel for the overall effect from watching the graph, but it’s clear that Palin is doing much better than most predictions.
I can’t judge how the substance appears to people. As far as manner goes, Biden looks too angry, and he talks too much, but he has gotten some good lines in. ”With all due respect, I didn’t hear a plan” [after Palin's answer].
I’m pretty sure Biden just gritted his teeth before responding to Palin (she might have been lying in the comment before, but I’m not entirely sure). That can’t be good for him.
Subtle: “…the bush doctrine…” “a team of mavericks!”
Palin asked what her weakness was. She did not appear to understand what the question was. Neither did Biden…
Radley Balko has some worries about Biden that I hadn’t heard before. Back when I tended to prefer Edwards, an article about Obama’s views on civil liberties was one of the first things that moved me towards him, so hearing that Biden has such a bad record galls me.
I try not to prognosticate too much, since my rough account of political punditry is that we have almost no idea why anyone ever votes the way they do, nor how any event will play out, nor how any ‘intangible’ factor ever impacts anything. Still, I’m thinking the RNC’s attempt to focus attention on Biden’s gaffes with a “gaffe clock” will be pathetic and ineffectual. For one thing, it’s entirely meta–the whole idea isn’t to highlight particular gaffes, but the idea that what he generally does is make gaffes. I have a hard time seeing people who aren’t interested in the horserace aspects of politics caring about something that abstract. Moreover, most of the politicians who’ve been hurt by a reputation for gaffes have been hurt because they were perceived as lightweights. But Biden is manifestly no Quayle–the agreed opinion is that he’s a smart guy with a weird habit of saying dumb things, not a man who’s just out of his league.
If Biden’s gaffes get the ticket in trouble, it won’t be because of his reputation. It will be because he says something that itself offends or disappoints people. Biden seriously damaged his primary campaign with his “clean and articulate” comment, not because it highlighted his gaffes, but because it made him sound like a racist.
Gosh, even thinking about that comment makes me scared for what can happen in the next three months.
Side Note: Matthew Yglesias certainly highlights the important fact which is that journalists love to write about gaffes. So maybe the gaffe clock will be important by extension.
Posted in Politics
In a blog post concerning why Joe Biden hasn’t had traction in the democratic primaries, Matt Bai busts out the following train of thought:
I think Mr. Biden is less a victim of the media itself than of the distinct political culture that we in the media have wrought. Ten years of endless blather about the game of politics on cable TV have trained the most engaged American voters to handicap candidates rather than hear them, to pontificate about who might win rather than deciding whom they actually want to win. Voters seem to approach politics increasingly as pundits, and they look to poll numbers to tell them who’s electable and who isn’t, never stopping to realize that they are the ones who get to decide.
It’s cute, but utterly unpersuasive. Think back to the last conversation about the primaries that you overheard–that is, one that you weren’t a part of, because you’re probably a political junkie, and you’d distort the sample. Perhaps the last conversation you overheard featured two people talking about poll numbers and acting like pundits, but the last one I heard sounded as if it was beamed from Mars (or perhaps I was the Martian observing earthlings). The people I heard vaguely knew that Hillary was ahead, but couldn’t have properly guessed at the poll numbers. They weren’t pundits worried about who was electable, except perhaps so far as the media had efficiently conveyed that information to them, with it’s relatively narrow focus on the three front-runners. So I’d recommend that Bai returns to the top of his paragraph and adopts the more parsimonious explanation:
From just chatting with voters around the state, the guess here is that Mr. Biden would be a significant force in the upcoming caucuses if Iowans actually thought he could win. They never have. Mr. Biden’s supporters will tell you that this is all the media’s fault for not covering him more.
I’ll personally admit to having written Biden off when he opened his campaign by calling Obama “clean and articulate.” I rather liked Al Sharpton’s response that he showered quite regularly, thank you much.