aardvarkcola

The debates (as heard on radio)

Posted on: October 4, 2008

I missed both debates and I so wanted to write on them. Had to travel during Thursday evening. Not fun. So I have to rely on news links. I’ll pop those in later. It is now the very early morning and I’m writing this before I rush off.

First, to comment on our debate then the American vice-presidential debate.

My impression- in the little I heard- first our own debate- I’m glad Elizabeth May was on stage. She did raise the bar for the debates. Although she is grating in her views at times, she presents well, she is prepared, and she speaks well. She has the ability to hold the audience interest.

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion spent a lot of time on the defensive. I wish I spoke French, as the pundits and polls indicate he did very well in the French debate the night before, besting Prime Minister Steven Harper, who, reportedly, did come off looking calm- which impresses in itself to look unflappable under pressure.

Jack Layton, the leader of the New Democratic Party, sounded aggressive. In the short time I heard the debate- on radio yet, I never saw it- Layton sounded the same each time. It gave the impression of an attack dog on a leash. It was not a leader-like impression. The New Democratic Party has the reputation of a caring party- it’s been called “the conscious of the House”- it started our medicare (Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan), it has been the impetus for so many of our adopted social programs, but those days are gone, it seems. If Layton were an American, you’d say “Republican” instantly, just in how he looks. If he wore plaid work shirts, I’m sure it would look funny. In debate Layton sounds more like the guy with the pitchfork on your shoulder. He should address the audience more. He got lost in the wallpaper on radio sounding strident each time he spoke. He needs some variety in tone. Maybe it was there, I didn’t hear it.

Gilles Duceppe, the Bloc Leader. I remember when in college a political science instructor actually called the Bloc office in Ottawa and asked for their policy platform. He said they fell over themselves with surprise- a person from Alberta calling about their platform. That request would still register surprise. They are a Quebec-only party. Duceppe has a great voice on radio. Unlike Layton, Duceppe’s voice registers concern. His questions, though, seem to be not pinned to anything that can resonate with the average voter here. Um, they are not even pinned to reality, actually.

Prime Minister Harper. The man is good, you gotta give him that. He speaks well. He is Prime Ministerial. He knows his facts and can produce them instantly. He can go on the attack without breaking his monotone. On the attack he never sounds bitter, harsh, or mean. It sounds even policeman-like, as in someone saying, these are the facts, ma’am. When attacked- and he was constantly, everyone wanted a piece of him- he was unflappable, never broke stride. A damned good performance.

Now the American debate.

Remember I am listening on radio, driving down the Queen Elizabeth Highway (the Calgary-Edmonton Trail, renamed after Queen Elizabeth’s visit here in 2005), rushing to a meeting that took place while the debate was on.

Sarah Palin transformed. On radio she shone. She had a thin grasp of issues but she had good lines, good jabs. I was so impressed in the little I heard I thought she was winning- that is not a joke.

When I got back I flipped through news items on the debate and apparently one of the former Alaska governors Palin beat warned Joe Biden not to underestimate her. Good advice.

Biden was polite, never demeaning, presented his facts well.

But Biden does not have something Palin has. She has star power. I never realized that until I heard her on radio. I could not for the life of me understand what people saw in this woman. This blog actually gets a huge rise in hits when I mention Palin. No other subject I write about can affect my hit counter so dramatically. Americans are hungry for news of her. Mudflats, the Alaskan blog that follows her is one of the best-read blogs on WordPress. I thought Americans were hungry for news of her because they had no idea what she was all about and wanted to know more. Now I think she has a sort of Trudeau-mania about her. Palin-mania. Go figure.

She tripped only once that I heard, confusing “main street” with “Wall Street”. She appeared to see the crisis as triggered by Wall Street excess and near-criminal behaviour. I can see how voters would like that.

Palin sounded Reaganesque even. (“Well, Nancy and I..”) She has a similar casual-executive style of speech- a similar cadence. Her voice, once she gets going has a definite rhythm. It is not hesitant. She can absorb facts (unless she had giant cue-cards and I was fooled) and can shoot them out at just the right time. She has what should be an irritating habit of dropping the “g” in her words ending “ing” but it doesn’t sound irritating. It brands her as working folks. She even used a line to make sure that was emphasized- it was during her speaking on Obama’s tax proposal to cut taxes for everyone making less than $250,000 a year. It was a risk (if she is just folks the tax break would include her) but she took it. She said “Todd and I” were middle class all their lives, then told Biden the tax cut wouldn’t include some small businesses and explained that would hit jobs. It was not only well-delivered, she was developing a constituency as she spoke- a brand. Her people are working people.

In the short radio time I heard the debate I was surprised as Sarah Palin turned Joe Biden into wallpaper and shone as she jabbed and danced while promoting her brand on a national broadcast.

Another point here. Forgive this if you’re American, but the impression of the average American is not being among the brightest of bulbs on the world chandelier. I enjoyed a PBS documentary on the day-to-day life of an aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz. But I was genuinely appalled by how little the average sailor knew about politics, geopolitics and history. Here they are, on one of the greatest warships in history, a key military tool representing the policy of the United States of America, our key ally, and the most of the crew gives the impression they are one brain chromosome short. It was not reassuring. It is those people, I think, that would adore Palin. She is them- working people, just folks people, down-home people whose families have never done well and never will, who view Washington and corporate America as foreign territory. I understand now how Sarah Palin’s view of Washington and politics would genuinely resonate with these people. These people would feel very comfortable with a President Palin. God help us.

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3 Responses to "The debates (as heard on radio)"

[…] aardvarkcola wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptIf Layton were an American, you’d say “Republican” instantly, just in how he looks. If he wore plaid work shirts, I’m sure it would look bfunny/b. In debate Layton bsounds/b more like the guy with the pitchfork on your shoulder. b…/b […]

Like your postings! Always lots of new stuff.

Interesting Read! Very detailed blog,thanks for sharing

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  • wordbeeps: No, he doesn't deserve an apology. Who tweets during a funeral? If you do, expect feedback. I didn't say the mourners were faking it. I think they we
  • Holly Stick: Look you fuckwit, are you too stupid to realise that Ghomeshi was an actual friend of Layton's, when you tweeted to him that the mourners were faking
  • aardvarkcola: Thank you. I see the rest of your message now. i'm honoured to to have your words on my blog. That alone is a delight. Lawrence

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