OK, Joe…

I find the following video clip heartening. Biden and Obama are in the process of swearing in White House senior staff and apparently it’s the Vice-President’s job to administer the oath. Who knew?

At first, Biden forgets that he’s the one to administer the oath, but he quickly remembers. He then quips, “My memory’s not as good as Justice Roberts’ … Chief Justice Roberts.” Referring, of course, to the flub of the Oath that Obama took at the inauguration.

Ha … Ha. Chuckles all around.

Except for Obama, who’s clearly not amused. Watch closely and you’ll see Obama reach out, grab Biden’s elbow, and steer funny ole Joe back to business, even shaking his head at someone off camera.

Why heartening? Biden’s joke wasn’t off-color, or even rude. It wasn’t particularly funny either… but it was–as so much modern political humor is–a needless, pointless, partisan jibe. Obama didn’t scold Biden, he just… steered him back to business, sending a message that I read as, “OK, enough. We’ve got work to do.”

Despite all the rhetoric, there will be plenty of partisan wrangling in the next four years. That’s a good thing, by the way, partisan differences are real and important, they shouldn’t be brushed aside easily. But civility and decorum are important too and Obama seems, in at least a small way, truly committed to engaging his opposition with dignity.

Good for him.


VP Debate

We watched until it became unbearable. Then we went to bed. Sort of like the economy.

I picked up most of the rest from YouTube this morning.

I agree with Shawn Klein. I’ll call it a draw. I expect analysis to align pretty well with partisan impulses. I don’t think either Biden or Palin did much to change anyone’s perception. Palin was folksy and cute, Biden was pedantic and boring. Biden pandered to the left, Palin pandered to the right.

The biggest loser in this election is the American people.

Best line I’ve seen so far was over at Whatever, by a commenter, Shawn Deggans:

“They still sound basically the same to me though:
NATIONAL socialism or national SOCIALISM.”

Why not me?

HT to Reason:

Why can’t the federal government take all of our bad assets off our hands, not just those of big banks and financial institutions? That’s what “Buy My Shit Pile.com” is wondering. Go there to publicly post your own now dubious investments and call for your own personal bailout. As the site says:

remember, when estimating the value of your 1997 limited edition Hanson single CD “MMMbop”, it’s not what you can sell these items for that matters, it’s what you think they are worth. The fact that you think they are worth more than anyone will buy them for is what makes them bad assets.

And this! This my favorite Biden quote yet.

“When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the princes of greed. He said, ‘look, here’s what happened.'”

Reason responded:
And if you owned an experimental TV set in 1929, you would have seen him. And you would have said to yourself, “Who is that guy? What happened to President Hoover?”

Now, I don’t much fault Biden for not knowing that FDR wasn’t elected until 1932; those election cycles are pesky things and it’s not always easy to divide by four. Nor do I fault him for getting the invention of the television off by a number of years. I fault him for implying that Roosevelt had even the slightest inkling as to what happened when the market crashed.

But hey, let’s cut the guy some slack. Even he thinks Hillary would have made a better VP.

Suddenly Sarah

I’ve been struggling with what to say about the conventions and the VP picks….

Obama had a good convention, but not a great one. His stump speech was good, but Bill Clinton’s was better. The speeches were all good, but they had to be good to recover from the worst mistake that Obama has made in the last 18 months: Joe Biden. Biden is a career politician in the way that fungus is career mold. He represents everything that Obama was running against. It would have been hard to imagine him picking a Democrat who less represented Hope™ and Change™ or who was more Old White Guy.™

But if Biden was a bad choice two weeks ago, he’s a near disaster now.

The Sarah Palin selection was simply, utterly, fantastically, amazingly brilliant.

Unlike Biden, Palin reinforces McCain’s brands. She’s a Maverick™ and an Outsider.™ She projects the same no-nonense Straight-Talk Express™ that McCain has built his career on, and more importantly, she’s not an Old White Guy.™

Her selection as the VP gave McCain a viable shot in the general election. The early polls now show McCain with a slight lead over Obama, and I expect that trend to continue for at least the rest of this week.

Palin absolutely dominated the convention cycle. The Republican convention was the smaller of the two, was accompanied by a smaller media footprint, and the conventional wisdom leading up to the conventions was that the GOP would be swamped by the Obamathon in Denver. Palin ended up swamping Obama. (Her speech was seen by more people than Obama’s.)

Palin did everything that McCain needed and then some. She energized the Republican base in a way that McCain never could. The conservative base will come out and vote for McCain/Palin in a way that they never would have for McCain/Romney. But beyond that, her selection really does look to be the single most important moment in the general election.

And beyond this cycle, Palin will be a political force for years. If McCain loses this year, expect Palin to run again in 2012–for the top spot.

The best measure of Palin’s impact is the degree to which she has induced PDS, Palin Derangement Syndrome. Charlie Martin has a roundup of the worst examples of that syndrome here. Martin debunks most of the worst Palin rumors (book banning, affairs, hidden pregnancies, etc…)

The big question, of course, is how well will the very conservative Palin actually appeal to independent voters and dissafected Hillary supporters?

On this question, I’m a bit more skeptical than many. I think that Palin’s choice to run with a special needs infant will fail to resonate with some women and I think that she’ll likely remain anathema for ideological liberal voters. She is fundamentally a conservative Christian woman, and for many women voters, that’s simply a non-starter.

However, Palin will appeal to a great many voters. Her appeal will be particularly strong among independent male voters.

From Will Wilkinson, (read the whole thing!)

First, let me just get it out of the way: I think she is a tremendously sexy woman. How this will effect the race, I have no idea, but it’s just got to. It’s not an issue of glamour so much as a kind of Paglian chthonic sexual power. Set in that context, her unabashed embrace of her fecundity and motherhood as a kind of qualification makes a lot of sense. Megan O’Rourke’s post on Palin’s political eros has it right, and I think she may even be on to something when she says we got a “glimpse of a novel problem for a presidential candidate: sexual tension with his VP.”

But she’ll also appeal to many women:

Tammy Bruce,

In the shadow of the blatant and truly stunning sexism launched against the Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign, and as a pro-choice feminist, I wasn’t the only one thrilled to hear Republican John McCain announce Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. For the GOP, she bridges for conservatives and independents what I term “the enthusiasm gap” for the ticket. For Democrats, she offers something even more compelling – a chance to vote for a someone who is her own woman, and who represents a party that, while we don’t agree on all the issues, at least respects women enough to take them seriously.

Virtually moments after the GOP announcement of Palin for vice president, pundits on both sides of the aisle began to wonder if Clinton supporters – pro-choice women and gays to be specific – would be attracted to the McCain-Palin ticket. The answer is, of course. There is a point where all of our issues, including abortion rights, are made safer not only if the people we vote for agree with us – but when those people and our society embrace a respect for women and promote policies that increase our personal wealth, power and political influence.

Make no mistake – the Democratic Party and its nominee have created the powerhouse that is Sarah Palin, and the party’s increased attacks on her (and even on her daughter) reflect that panic.

As for me, this says it best:

From Robert Bidinotto (who is very enthusiastic about Palin):

I therefore need to reiterate emphatically that my only reason for supporting the McCain ticket — especially now that Palin is aboard — is that national-greatness progressivism represents a far-less-damaging and more mixed alternative to the utterly destructive, anti-American, left-Wilsonian “progressivism” of Obama. This is especially the case on the paramount issues of national security and energy production. Sadly, in this political environment, stopping Obama requires us to sign on to a philosophically chaotic and often damaging Republican candidate. The Palin pick indicates that free-market, limited-government influences at least will have a seat at the table in a McCain administration, tending to blunt his worst inclinations.