L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

10 September 2008 Blog Home : September 2008 : Permalink

Lipstick, Assplodery and Other Thoughts

Yesterday (or was it the day before? I read it yesterday anyway) John Scalzi wrote a most excellent "Take a chill pill" rant for the Obamanaiacs who are assploding* all over the place with regard to Sarah Palin.

Dear Democrats, liberals and the like:

I know it’s a lot to ask at the moment, but could you possibly please stop publicly losing your shit all over the goddamn place? Honestly, it’s embarrassing. Did you really not know that coming out of the GOP convention, the GOP candidate might have a poll bounce? Likewise, were you somehow surprised that the GOP might try very hard to make this campaign about something other than actual issues? Did you expect them to try to run on the last eight years, or even pretend that they own them? What the fuck is wrong with you?

And it goes on in excellent fashion. I disagree with Mr Scalzi's professed view of Governor Palin but I think that he gets the point across very well to the nutroot community who certainly do see Governor Palin in that light (or worse). In fact given the republican response to Obama's lipstick remarks I think that handing the chill pills out all round would be a good thing. I'll get back to "lipstick" in a moment. First I'm going to paste the comment I made chez Scalzi:

As far as I can tell this FT article hasn’t been linked to on this thread.

Reading a lot of the comments on this page and even more of the assploding* lib/Dem commentariat elsewhere I get a huge sense of disdain/contempt by lib/Dems for the people they say they want to help. Even more than the ridiculous attacks on Governor Palin and the even more ridiculous lack of any pretense at neutrality by large chunks of the media this contempt is going to lose you an election you should have won. Obama, as a man, sounds OK to me and he has, for the most part, been handling the Palinmania just fine. I think he’s a typical shading the truth politician with dodgy deals in his past but then so is every pol including (surprise) Palin, but I believe he genuinely wants to make changes and I also believe that (duh) a lot of people are hacked off at the Bush government and want a change. So he ought to win easily (and probably be a total Carteresque disaster when he does but that’s irrelevant to this discussion).

He won’t win if he manages to surround himself with people who say essentially “Look you dumb hicks don’t vote for another dumb hick” Currently that’s exactly the impression I get.

Someone in this thread (Laurie Mann #92) wrote about how successful Obama was at signing up volunteers registering voters etc. The really big thing that the Palin pick did was energize a bunchaton of republican supporters to go and do likewise as opposed to doing the minimum. Since we’ve only had a week or so of Palinmania it is too soon to tell whether or not this effort will result in enough ground level campaign volunteers to have an effect but it may well do. Churches are very good community organizers. I’ll note that mocking Palin for her faith and drastically taking some of her statements re: creationism, sex ed, etc out of context are more likely to energise other Christians who fear that the godless liberals are (going to) persecute them than almost anything else.

Also in re 117. I’m pretty sure its Biden who’s going to look like an idiot in the VP debate. Just get the videos of the Alaskan primary and governor debates. Biden (D-MBNA) is going to come across like the sleazy blowhard he is and he is exactly the sort of inside politics pol that Palin is good at picking holes in.

I really recommend the FT article. People responded to it with a certrain amount of "same old lies told be republicans" which misses the point. Democrats/liberals/progressives really do seem to look down on the people in "flyoverstan" and wonder out loud how they can possibly believe the things they do, with the implication that only congenital morons could believe these things. This is the real problem with Obama's "clinging" comments in San Francisco. They fit a well established precedent of Democratic leaders who seem unable to do anything but look down at the people they want the votes from.

It must be noted that the Democrats are far from alone in this elitist snobbery. It seems like a fair number of republican politicians also condescend the little people who vote for them while paying more attention to the lobbyists and their clients who wine them, dine them and give them campaign contributions. Part of the appeal of Palin is that she demonstrably doesn't condescend to her voters and she equally clearly doesn't partake in the political gravy train but instead prefers to take it on.

Which leads us back to change and lipstick on the pig. I listened to the youtube video (via powerline) of Obama's comments and what struck me was just how poor a speaker he is for someone who is allegedly silver tongued. I mean we're not quite at Dubya levels of tongue-tied incoherence but compared to Bill Clinton (or Tony Blair) he's pretty bad. McCain isn't notably any better and neither is Biden a great speaker (we'll ignore the resume enhancing plagiarism here). From what I've seen of Palin's past Alaskan campaigning she comes across much much better. The lipstick comment may well have been an attempt to drop a subtle insult Palin's way and in itself so what? Politicians insult others all the time and they do it because we the voters like listening to it. The problem is that it was horribly delivered:

"That's just, just calling some uh the same thing something different. You know you can't uh you, you can put lipstick on a pig, is still a pig"d

Compared with Palin's smooth Pitbull/Lipstick ad lib it is embarrassing and since 40 million people or more watched Palin make that quip it's going to remind them just how natural, normal but well spoken she is compared to the rest of the field.

It is probably true that politicians who are too glib are trusted about as much as smoothtalking door to door salesmen. However, seeing as about 50% of politics is about making speeches, is it too much to hope that basic presentation/public speaking skills would be a mandatory pre-requisite for the job? I mean public speaking courses are available across the US for salesmen, marketers, lawyers and others who need to make public addresses and I'm sure politicians could get enrolled in the classes too. Sure the good ones are a thousand or more dollars a day but for a presidential campaign with a staff of hundreds and a budget of hundreds of millions plunking down say $5000 for a two day dedicated public speaking course where the candidate pracitises his stump speech(es) and gets them videoed and critiqued for presentation doesn't sound like a bad idea to me.

Apparently US politicians, no matter whether they uh wear uh lipstick uh fish uh paper uh not, don't think so.

*Assploding - my latest favourite word