Posts Tagged 'debate'

Muscle bound

Dick Shawn, who died on-stage in 1987, was one of my favorite actors and comedians.  His role in The Producers as the flower-power-hippie cast as the lead in Springtime for Hitler was classic.

Perhaps less well-known was Dick’s stand-up routine as a muscle-bound weight lifter.  Proud of his bigger than life physique, he was asked by his mother “So what good are big muscles?”  Stumped for an answer, he stumbled around giving inane responses to this simple question.

I was reminded of Dick’s routine as I watched the debate last night.  The first question posed by a young college student was “So, how are you going to create more jobs?”  Smiling as he stared into the young man’s eyes, Mitt attempted to lay out the specifics of his job creation plan.  Only there were none.  Dick Shawn had risen.

Next came a question from a motherly middle-aged woman.  “I understand that you want to simplify the tax code and give everyone a 20% tax cut.  And that you want to balance that cut by limiting deductions.  How will your plan impact my home mortgage deduction, charitable contributions and the deduction for  my kids’ college tuition.”  Mitt smiled and flexed his big muscles.  Dick Shawn was having a hell of a night.

When the debate took on the issue of women in the workplace, the two contenders tried their best to become the champion of the fairer sex.  Obama cited his signature support for the Lilly Ledbetter equal pay for equal work legislation and for Planned Parenthood’s myriad of services.  Mitt muted his promise to de-fund Planned Parenthood and chose to ignore his running mate’s vote against the Ledbetter legislation.  He instead cited his search for qualified women while Governor of Massachusetts.

When his closest advisers were incapable of identifying women for his cabinet, he said “Well, gosh, can’t we find some women that are also qualified?”  He was then presented with “whole binders full of women.”  With big muscles, I’m sure.

Another questioner asked “How will Mr. Romney’s presidency differ from that of George W. Bush?”  Mitt lamented Mr. Bush’s budget busting wars, crossed his heart and promised never to do that again.  Obama noting that in spite of his other failings Mr. Bush had never proposed Medicare vouchers, proceeded to chastise Mitt’s vaporous health plan, a scheme that according to a new study by the Kaiser Foundation would cause six in ten Medicare recipients to pay higher premiums.

And so it went.  In the end we were treated to interviews with ten undecided voters who had been gathered together in the studio to observe the debate.  The moderator asked  “So, now that you’ve seen the debate, which of you will be voting for Mr. Romney?”  One hand went up.  “And which of you will be voting for Mr. Obama?”  One hand went up.

The other eight were obviously living in some alternative universe.  Maybe looking for some guy with bigger muscles.

You betcha…

Ok, I admit it.  I hoped that the Snow Queen wouldn’t be able to complete a full sentence.  That she would think that foreign policy was insurance coverage on her Russian vacation home.  But no, she disappointed me.  All she could do for me was say nuquelar instead of nuclear.  George Bush in a skirt?  Maybe.

I was also scared shitless that old Joe would say “now listen here, sweetheart.”  At least I was saved that embarrassment.

I was so frustrated when Sarah didn’t fall on her face that I kept switching between the debate and an old cowboy movie on TCM.  Every time I came back to the debate I hoped I would find the Snow Queen running for cover.  But no, there she was.  Winking at me.  Letting me know that I had underestimated her.  That’s what I get for snickering at a hockey mom that’s on a first name basis with Joe Sixpack.

The next morning I thought more about it.  Something was wrong.  The script sounded too familiar.  Aha, I said.  I know that woman.

The night before the debate sweetie and I watched that good old Coen brothers movie “Fargo.”  You know.  The one where the bad guy sticks Steve Buscemi’s leg in the wood chipper.  Frances McDormand is the understated pregnant chief of a Minnesota police department who spends most of the movie eating fat laden hamburgers and saying “you betcha.”  Wonderful script, great actors.

A script, that’s what the Snow Queen was using.  That’s why she was able to say things moderately well when just a few days before she couldn’t answer Katie Couric’s question about what newspapers she reads.  The scripting effect was at its zenith when old Joe gulped while talking about his son’s battle for life.  All the Snow Queen could say was that we needed more mavericks in the White House.  A true compassionate conservative?  You betcha.

Or the time when Gwen Ifill asked Joe what they would do about their expensive plans now that the economy had tanked.  Joe gave a few specifics.  Sarah looked at the script, blinked at the camera and said “I’d rather talk about energy.”  Prodded a bit more, she said that the Old Guy and her would do what’s right for America.  Like, drop out I thought.

But, let’s face it.  She didn’t fall on her face and she completed nearly all of her sentences.  I didn’t understand a couple of them but so what.  She deserves a lot of credit.  Just like your four year old who comes home from pre-school with a finger painting you slap on your fridge.  Well done sweetheart.  Can’t wait to see what you do when you grow up. 

I was cruising around the NY Times (Sarah doesn’t read it or apparently any other newspaper).  I found this comment from Linda Tilsen, a Missouri reader, in response to a David Brooks column that praised the Snow Queen for surviving the debate.

It’s not hard to wonder what David Brooks and other “cerebral” right-wing pundits would say if Hillary Clinton delivered such a performance. You’d say she was all style and no substance; you’d say she refused to play by the rules of the debate; you’d say she made transparent, manipulative appeals to the common folk. If you were an honest journalist, you’d say those things about Palin. But because Gov. Mavericky didn’t fall flat on her face, you equate that with building “mansions.”  Do you know how desperate and hypocritical that sounds?

You betcha.

Marge Gunderson

Marge Gunderson

Miss Congeniality

John McCain was right about two things last night.  He is not Miss Congeniality, and you don’t really need much experience to be Vice-President…or even President of the United States.

His grumpy side (actually all his sides are pretty grumpy) held sway through much of the evening.  As Sweetie and I watched his performance with about fifty other Democrats at the Ojai Obama headquarters, I kept thinking about the Queen of Hearts in the Walt Disney version of Alice in Wonderland.  I had a vision of the Old Guy sitting in the Oval Office with that worn-out Sharpie marking pen vetoing every bill put before him while yelling “off with their heads.”

Even Grizzly Bears don’t stand a chance when the Sharpie is wielded.  His old rant about government misspending a couple million bucks looking at bear DNA in Montana took center stage.  While the benefits of intruding on the bears can be argued, the NY Times says…

…he fails to mention that the project was sponsored by Conrad Burns, a former Republican senator from Montana who chairs the McCain campaign in that state.  Mr. McCain never explains why, if it was such a waste, he didn’t try to curtail it on the Senate floor.

Back to grumpiness though.  I really don’t want a grumpy warrior as president.  We’ve tried a warrior for the last eight years and look where that got us.  If we throw grumpy into the mix we end up with something that looks like Conan the Barbarian with hemmorhoids.

Perhaps the most telling part of the evening was how well the Muslim guy stood up under the test.  With less than one-quarter of the experience of the Old Guy, the CBS and CNN polls report that he still managed to come out ahead on foreign policy, McCain’s presumed strong suit.

It was also interesting to hear both candidates rattle off the names of tongue-twisting geographic areas and their leaders.  John clearly won that contest by naming Waziristan, an area of Pakistan best known for the production of terrorists.  That more than made up for incorrectly naming of the leader of that country.  In addition, McCain won big points when he waived his passport at the camera, clearly showing that he had more stamps in it than Obama.

Given the Muslim guy’s skill at foreign affairs with less than one-quarter of McCain’s tenure in Congress, I have changed my mind about the Snow Queen’s readiness to be vice-president.  I don’t care anymore whether she has a passport, is unable to complete a full sentence, worries about Putin in our airspace, believes dinosaurs are only 6,000 years old, or keeps earmarked money after the mark is erased.

Anyway, if I’m wrong about her, we can always keep her busy collecting Polar Bear DNA.


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