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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Palin-Biden predictions for tonight

Mostly, I'm curious what any of you predict will be tonight's outcome. Everyone has played the expectations game expertly. At this point, it seems like Biden is incapable of speaking in complete sentences and Palin's ability to reach subject-verb agreement should win her the debate.

In truth: Did anyone watch Biden during the Democratic Primary Debates? He was direct, punchy, not as long-winded. Right now, as long as he can avoid the obvious traps (and I'm sure they're obvious to everyone around him as well) he should do better than fine. All he needs to do is bring to bear his actual knowledge.

Palin...who knows? As of now, she's humiliated herself over and over again. She's given the same speech at about 17 rallies over the last month, and she's barely seen the press. When she has, she's been slaughtered. The question is really whether she's been coached enough to pass in this debate. She was coached for her interviews as well, I'm sure.

My concern is that Biden will be so handcuffed by those concerned about gaffes that he's going to be extremely restrained. It'll make for a dull debate, and likely it'll come off as a draw on TV.

What's so odd is that we're repeatedly told not to underestimate Palin, even though all the evidence says she's in over her head. It's feeling a bit like the "We're going to lose this thing" meme that went around when McCain had a blip in the polls. It seems like a lot of smoke and not enough fire. Logic says Biden wipes the floor with her because he simply has far more knowledge. Fear of being too confident says it's a draw.

What do you think?


Scott Walters said...

I think Palin will be solid, not because she knows her stuff, but because the debate format doesn't include the ability for the moderator to really follow up and force a question. She'll have learned her lines, and will deliver them on cue.

Jigsaw said...

The expectation is for Palin to come across as a bumbling idiot. If she manages to form complete sentences, she'll win. The Right will say she won no matter what.

Biden can be incredible, Biden can also gaff. If he's subdued and polite, he'll be spun as being weak. If he attacks Palin for her obvious shortcomings, he'll be spun as mean or sexist. The best Biden can do is address the issues and ignore Palin entirely, because being spun as an elitist is better than the previous choices. If Biden doesn't say anything stupid, the Left will proclaim him the obvious victor.

I think it's, sadly, somewhat pointless to contemplate. This election won't come down to actual competence, it will come down to a weird socio-economic/historical/religious conflict of basic perception. The Left/Obama represent "Logic", the Right/McCain represent "Faith", and neither side is mentally capable of understanding the other due to those fundamental differences in the way their brains absorb the world around them.

Are there really swing voters in this election? I haven't met any. If someone is undecided at this point in the cycle, they either haven't been paying attention (in which case, this debate will certainly go unnoticed) or they are somehow incapable of comprehending the issues (in which case… no, nothing I can say here that isn't mean).

In any case, I do believe that there is an incredible danger in thinking Obama is a foregone conclusion. Yes, to the Left, McCain is an ancient, doddering old man spreading malicious gossip and lies, and Palin is a terrifying snake-talker whose recent media appearances make early President GW Bush moments seem like excerpts from the Best of the Algonquin Round Table.

But to the Right, he's a war hero, she's a good Christian mom, and they're both good folks, and they sure do a great job.

It's arguing evolution with a creationist (in Palin's case, literally). There is not one single item of fact you can tell them that will change their minds. All the Left can hope to do is be respectful, take the high road, and hope to outnumber the Right.