Well, now that the dust has settled from the bloodbath that was Wednesday night’s debate (does that count as mixing metaphors?), some quasi-objective analysis may be attempted (if you haven’t yet, be sure to read the liveblog here).
- First, the man I know you’ve all been wondering about: Joe the plumber. In deciding to make him the lynchpin of McCain’s debate talking points, the campaign demonstrated the same thorough vetting capabilities as they did when selecting Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential nominee. Namely, Joe has a different first AND last name than McCain said he did, is not a registered plumber, owes more than $1000 on back taxes, and with his current income, would receive tax cuts under Obama’s plan. In addition, even if he were to buy a small business and end up making so much profit that his income was >$250,000, he would almost undoubtedly be better off under Obama’s plan, because there are only a couple percentage points between the two plans in that bracket and Obama’s comes with added breaks for small businesses. So….way to go, GOP! (It is mildly encouraging, though – they’re such awful liars, the quest for transparency in government would be that much easier to achieve). This satirical (and hilarious) “letter to Joe the Plumber from McCain” skewers the current situation with Joe (item 1: “Sorry for throwing you into the pit of rabid dogs that is the mainstream media w/out warning you first”.
- McCain’s comment that “education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century” drew criticism because it ignores the fact that many, more “classic” civil rights issues are still very present and problematic. However, the senator’s feelings on civil rights issues are illuminated a little bit by a report released by the Civil Rights Coalition for the 21st Century: based on his voting record, McCain has a score of 22% (Obama has 100%). This is also a “weighted” average – based solely on McCain’s votes for civil rights issues, he would have received a score of 11%, but the score was adjusted to accommodate his many, many, absences from the Senate. Interestingly enough, among the items McCain did not vote for: a bill ensuring access to education for children of immigrants. Oh, McCain. Time to find a new fake talking point – quick, before the election! Say you care about something else before the voters catch on!
- Speaking of Senate absences, this is old news, but still interesting: McCain is the most absent Senator from the 110th Congress (that article is from July, so it’s possible but not probable that things have changed). Maybe it’s just me, but criticisms of the government, of Congress, of Obama for voting “present”, frequent references to his “dedicated service” – all ring rather false now. Best lines of the article?
“In fact, he hasn’t actually voted on anything in the Senate since April 8. McCain now ranks as the #1 most absent senator of the 110th Congress, having missed 61.8 percent of the votes. He even beats Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), who took several months off while recovering from a brain hemorrhage.”
- I was surprised but somewhat glad that McCain expressed such blatant misogyny during the debate – of course, I’m not glad he feels that way, but it’s nice of him to put it right out there. He dismissed the Lilly Ledbetter case, a case attempting to ensure equal pay for women (still a very real problem) as “a trial lawyer’s dream”. He was even less circumspect about his feelings on women’s health, dismissing it in a sneering tone of voice and making “scare quotes” with his hands. Stay classy, McCain. I’d link to some posts on why this is problematic but they’re a dime a dozen in the feminist blogosphere; you should be able to find one by merely closing your eyes and pointing.
- As far as who won the debate – don’t take my word for it. The pundits, always eager to show off their political acumen, were falling over themselves to point out McCain’s strengths and Obama’s possible weaknesses, but the average viewer’s reaction was pretty unequivocal: Obama won. A CBS poll, multiple CNN polls, and a FOX focus group (among other polled bodies) all agreed that McCain came off as negative, attacking, and desperate, whereas Obama was viewed more favorably and to have expressed his views more clearly. The people have spoken!
- To be fair, though, not all people. We would not do well to forget the very real and large conservative base energized and encouraged by Palin’s tactics. Just today, she told a group of supporters that small towns are the most “pro-America” parts of the nation and the patriotic backbone of the country. This deserves its own post – the Republican obsession with “small-town values” and hatred of “elitism” and “intellectualism” when, of course, a large section of the Republican base is the very wealthy and no political candidate is anything less than filthy rich and at least vaguely well-educated. And just what does “small-town values” even mean? Perhaps the Daily Show puts it best (damn, can’t figure out how to embed the video – anyone know how?). Short version: small-town values = enclaves wherein bigotry and inequality can easily perpetuate themselves, free of criticism or progress.
- In the “I’ll take ‘Paranoid Jingoism’ for twelve, Alex!” category, Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN), in an interview with Chris Matthews, said that any liberal and “leftist” people, from Bill Ayers to Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi, are “Anti-American” and that she wished there would be a large-scale investigation to see where their true loyalties lie. Sounds like somebody needs to read The Crucible – on second thought, allegory may be too much for her mind to handle. Must meditate on best way to pierce through impenetrable cloud of stupidity.
And…that’s it for now!