03 October 2008

Palin's Performance: Incoherence, Bullshit, Amnesia & Causality in the Vice Presidential Debate

Some good bits from the transcript ....

(1) Incoherence.

IFILL: Has this administration's policy been an abject failure, as the senator says, Governor?

PALIN: No, I do not believe that it has been. But I'm so encouraged to know that we both love Israel, and I think that is a good thing to get to agree on, Sen. Biden. I respect your position on that.

No, in fact, when we talk about the Bush administration, there's a time, too, when Americans are going to say, "Enough is enough with your ticket," on constantly looking backwards, and pointing fingers, and doing the blame game.

There have been huge blunders in the war. There have been huge blunders throughout this administration, as there are with every administration.

But for a ticket that wants to talk about change and looking into the future, there's just too much finger-pointing backwards to ever make us believe that that's where you're going.

Positive change is coming, though. Reform of government is coming. We'll learn from the past mistakes in this administration and other administrations. [. . .]

Some questions here: First, just what "huge blunders" are we talking about? I can imagine what Palin might be referring to, but I sincerely am interested in knowing what she has in mind. Second, How does Palin propose to "learn from the past mistakes of this administration" if she is so averse to "looking backwards?" In order to learn from experience or from the past, one needs to examine it. And, third, as a further follow up, is saying that someone committed a huge blunder in the performance of public duties blaming them?

(2) Bullshit. Let's set aside the astounding assertion that McCain and Palin and Obama regularly endorse - namely, that "the surge" in Iraq is working or has worked or will work. I've noted the idiocy of that claim here before on numerous occasions. Why do the press not challenge the claim? Ever?

All along I have found the parsing of terms about our Iraq fiasco to be bullshit. We have military types and politicians trying to differentiate between tactics and strategy in ways that seem usually to be wholly self serving. But now Palin inserts a new distinction.

The surge principles, not the exact strategy, but the surge principles that have worked in Iraq need to be implemented in Afghanistan, also. And that, perhaps, would be a difference with the Bush administration.

What are those principles? How do they differ from the "exact strategy" and, assuming one could differentiate the two, from the military "tactics" we've pursued in Iraq. This is piling bullshit upon bullshit.

(3) Amnesia.

PALIN: I beg to disagree with you, again, here on whether you supported Barack Obama or John McCain's strategies. Here again, you can say what you want to say a month out before people are asked to vote on this, but we listened to the debates.

I think tomorrow morning, the pundits are going to start do the who said what at what time and we'll have proof of some of this, but, again, John McCain who knows how to win a war. Who's been there and he's faced challenges and he knows what evil is and knows what it takes to overcome the challenges here with our military.

He knows to learn from the mistakes and blunders we have seen in the war in Iraq, especially. He will know how to implement the strategies, working with our commanders and listening to what they have to say, taking the politics out of these war issues. He'll know how to win a war.

If I am correct, John McCain has been in precisely one war - Viet Nam. Most of the time he spent as a P.O.W.; I do not make light of that experience in any way, even if I do question how it qualifies him to be president. But let's be clear, if he (or we) learned anything about Viet Nam it is not "how to win a war."

(4) Causality.

IFILL: Governor, I'm happy to talk to you in this next section about energy issues. Let's talk about climate change. What is true and what is false about what we have heard, read, discussed, debated about the causes of climate change?

PALIN: Yes. Well, as the nation's only Arctic state and being the governor of that state, Alaska feels and sees impacts of climate change more so than any other state. And we know that it's real.

I'm not one to attribute every man -- activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man's activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet.

But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don't want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?

We have got to clean up this planet. We have got to encourage other nations also to come along with us with the impacts of climate change, what we can do about that.

Well, first, while I do know that many people attribute climate change to human activity. Here Palin asserts the reverse, attributing "every activity of man" to climate change. So. maybe she misspoke. OK. But then we are left with an echo of our earlier question. If we do not identify the causes of climate change we will likely waste a lot of resources and time. If we hope to remedy a problem it is typically useful to identify the underlying causes that generate the problematic phenomenon. The know-nothing attitude she displays is troublesome not simply because it brings to mind our current fearless and thoughtless leader, but because it is surely going to prove counterproductive in terms of remedying problems we face.

A colleague passed along this essay from The New Yorker. It would be funny if it didn't capture so accurately the general tenor of her performance last night. Actually, it is still funny! Thanks Kevin!

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2 Comments:

Blogger Public Squalor said...

McCain knows "how to win a war"? Last time I checked he spent his time in a prison camp on the losing side.

And what was up with Ifill's silly "class warfare" question?

I guess repeated tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires is just the natural order of things.

peace -

03 October, 2008 20:02  
Blogger Dawei_in_Beijing said...

McSame already induces in me a Pavlovian reflex of wretched disgust, but coupled with Sarah Palin I need a barf bag! It's not often that I feel embarrassed when someone else gets humiliated, but she does that to me every time she opens her mouth. If they win, I'm staying in Asia!

04 October, 2008 00:25  

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