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September 6, 2008

Watch this
Posted by Patrick at 10:04 AM * 66 comments

Joe Biden—yes, Joe Biden—demonstrates how to take on McCain and Palin. Hand-wringing liberals, please copy.

Comments on Watch this:
#1 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 10:22 AM:

That makes me want to hug Joe Biden, and that's just wrong. But it's nice to see someone FINALLY calling them on their BS.

#2 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 10:44 AM:

So, was any substantive part of this speech on the national news?

#3 ::: Nora ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 10:56 AM:

Whoa. I... I... I'm beginning to like him.

::dim horror::

#4 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 11:01 AM:

Woah. Okay. Now I get why he nominated that guy. Must confess that my exposure to the RNC consisted mostly of what they've shown on the Daily Show and the Colbert Report so far (but hey, that makes me no more or less informed than the average American young voter, no? ;P) but I did have a very strong feeling that they cut out the parts where the candidates talked about actual issues. Seems they didn't have to.

Watching this election with acute interest. Somehow, American politics are always much more interesting than the ones of the country I'm in (moving from Germany to Ireland hasn't changed the blandness of politics one bit).

#5 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 11:17 AM:

Looks like Joe got a little fired up in Pa. He made some good points. Although, campaigning is a war of rhetoric - it's nice to hear the words aimed at the other guys for a change.

#6 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 11:22 AM:

Jon Meltzer, it is a CNN clip. Whether it'll get picked up and reported widely? Google News (searching for "joe biden langhorne") pops up an ABC News story (don't read the comments there), and a followup CBS commentary.

But nicely done! More of this please.

#7 ::: Jess A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 11:26 AM:

I wasn't so sure about Biden when he was announced as the VP choice, but if he keeps on like this he just may seal the deal. This, this I like. A lot.

#8 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 11:41 AM:

From people in Michigan yesterday where sp addressed crowds: she gave word-for-word the same speech she gave at the CON. The women who were there and reported this used phrases like, "she was far more shrill than at the CON, and not anywhere near as effective and seemed to have trouble with the teleprompter, or maybe there wasn't one." IOW, she wasn't anywhere near as fiery and rousing in person than in a hall filled with a lynch mob begging for red meat post one long intense prep period.

Hope their assessment is right. Though she may improve too, as the days roll on.

Love, C.

#9 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 11:42 AM:

This was why I considered Joe Biden the least bad of the serious VP possibilities that Obama was apparently considering. Yes, his support of the bankruptcy bill sucked, but he's a hell of an attack dog and the Democrats have very very few good attack dogs.

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 12:04 PM:

Now, that's what's needed.

#11 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 12:11 PM:

Can we get some "joementum"?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Go Joe, "Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war."

#12 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 12:31 PM:

It was shown on the Philadelphia Fox channel news (note: not FoxNews) last night. And they actually turned up the sound so you could hear his voice, unlike the voiceovers they did for the other news pieces (e.g. on Palin).

#13 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 12:31 PM:

Exactly the right tone. And substantive, too! Go, Joe.

#14 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 12:32 PM:

Wow, I don't think I've ever loved Joe Biden as much as I do right now. It's about time that the Democrats called the Republicans to account on their tactics. The brilliant thing is how he does it. Pretty much any Republican rebuttal will be whining.

It's probably too much to hope that this will spur a serious election campaign based on the issues. I mean, if the Republicans ran on the issues, they'd surely lose. They have to go for the emotional appeal. It, sadly, works better anyway.

[This doesn't actually stop me from hoping that what Obama/Biden will do to recover from the wreckage of the past eight years gets across to the electorate. It could happen...]

I suspect what will happen is that the Republicans will whine that Democrats are picking on them anyway. The media, predictably, will behave, in general, as if the whine had any merit. *sigh*

#15 ::: ADM ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 12:33 PM:

yep. 'bout time.

#16 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 12:41 PM:

Now THAT's the kind of political speech I've been waiting for the Democrats to start producing!

GO JOE GO! MORE! MORE!

#17 ::: Catelynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 12:42 PM:

It is really good to see that the DNC is not falling for the madeup by the RNC controversy surrounding Palin.

In the larger world her family issues are not that important (except hopefully to her). Bring the conversation back to the issues where it belongs.

#18 ::: Melinda Snodgrass ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 12:45 PM:

I've always liked Biden despite his vote on the bankruptcy bill which really hurt working class families. He's a street fighter, very articulate, and he cuts through the crap.

He adds strength to the ticket, and it's good we have him. Sarah Palin is spewing venom. The question is whether truth can counter poison? I'm not sure anymore.

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 12:54 PM:

Give 'em Hell indeed.

#20 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 01:30 PM:

I listened to a few of the republican speeches and did come away with the feeling that there wasn't much there, but I listened on headphones while doing other things, so I'd figured that my ears had just glazed over. But yeah, I think Biden heard the same speeches I did.

#21 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 01:35 PM:

Oh boy. That gives me hope. Thanks, Patrick!

#22 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 02:02 PM:

Oh HELLS yeah. Finally!!!

#23 ::: whump ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 02:18 PM:

Woah, he lit them up, and I will need to go back and study how he did that whole "mean kids" riff without it sounding like a whinge.

#24 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 02:24 PM:
What do you talk about when you cannot explain the last eight years of failure?
Ooh, I like that one. It takes "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" and goes to 11.

Because everyone in his audience knows that they are not better off now than they were eight years ago; it's a fact so obvious it doesn't even need to be mentioned explicitly. Just use it as the springboard for the next step.

Most of all it shows that the Obama/Biden campaign has no intention of allowing the incumbent party to hijack "change". If you want a change, *change something*.


#8:

From people in Michigan yesterday where sp addressed crowds: she gave word-for-word the same speech she gave at the CON.

Seriously? The one that was written before she was even selected as the nominee?

How long is it going to be before she gives a speech she writes herself, or responds to audience questions? Is she planning any town hall meetings where the audience isn't preselected for their Republican fervor?

#25 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 02:32 PM:

Chris 24: According to the campaign, she never will.

#26 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 02:40 PM:

It certainly *looks* better, with Biden at or close to the height of his audience.

The images from the RNC were staged in an alarmingly "tiny people next to huge icons" style. It took the people on the stage right out of the context of ordinary mortals and placed them in a fairly hubristic context.

The difference in staging falls into the realm of "it's not about issues, it's about narrative", I think, with the Republican narrative being something along the lines of "our show is larger than life, and so are our people - so much larger, in fact, that the rules don't even apply to them".

Did anyone else get the same feeling? Or am I imagining larger-than-life things?

#27 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 03:05 PM:

I liked the exchange where someone in the audience shouted "give 'em hell, Joe!" and he turned to her and said "Remember with Harry Truman saying 'Give 'em Hell Joe', remember Harry Truman," and then he lowers his voice, opens his hands, and says "I wasn't around when Harry Truman was around." The audience cracks up. I think we all know who he was talking about.

#28 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 03:38 PM:

Dena Shunra @26:
That's pretty much the Republican Party in a nutshell... in all the worst ways.

#29 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 03:41 PM:

I didn't catch the dig at McCain, that was sweet. I wonder if that was a plant? I don't know if I'd like to think he's that quick on his feet (I do) or the campaign is clever enough to set that up (I do).

Either way it speaks well of his candidacy.

#30 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 03:50 PM:

Definitely time to turn our attention to the Good Guys. They need all our support in every way.

Ignore the ticket of also rans, wannabes and runners up -- who are together for the very first time. Cue muzak.

The Good Guys are so much more interesting. And they, um win.

Love, C.

#31 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 03:54 PM:

Daniel Klein at 4: Sounds like I ought to move to Germany or Ireland. The interestingness of American politics is of the "may you live in interesting times" sort. Bad for the blood pressure.

#32 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 04:04 PM:

Thanks for pointing this one out!

#33 ::: Bob Berlien ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 04:51 PM:

Aaargh! It's been pulled from YouTube! Ant other links?

#34 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 04:54 PM:

Republican strategy is a lot like what George Bush Sr. tried in his reelection campaign. He stressed foreign affairs and ignored the economy until it was way too late and pushing the status quo. McCain/Palin are doing the same thing, and FINALLY Obama/Biden are starting to hammer them on it.

The economy hits everyone in the pocketbook; if people are worried about their jobs and being able to afford what they need to survive, it won't matter WHAT is said about "fighting terrorism".

#35 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 05:10 PM:

Bob: It's still up for me. You might try again....

FWIW: This is exactly right, IMO. The Republicans are trying to turn the election into a matter of identity, because it's the only thing they have left.

Not to get all Sandor at the Zoo on you all, but I read a pretty wide range of weblogs, from pretty far right to fairly far left, and with a couple other dimensions thrown in. I saw astroturfy smears against Palin for "irresponsibly carrying a Downs baby to term" from new participants on at least one pretty far right blog, and also saw a regular participant point out that these were all from new people.

I'm pretty convinced that this was an astroturf attack from the right against itself, a kind of false flag attack intended to inflame the base in favor of Palin. There are a lot of other reasons to suspect this was going on, too. The purpose of all this is presumably to turn the Palin nomination into an us-vs-them conflict--Eastern media establishment vs rural Westerners, parents of big families against childless people and parents of small families, Christians against "godless liberals[1]", rural/suburban vs urban, etc.

IMO, they're not doing this because it's a great way to win, they're doing it because they've got nothing else to run on. As Biden so nicely points out in the linked speech, their record from governing for the last eight years is dismal, they appear to have few or no ideas to apply to the problems facing the country, and their tired old man of a candidate has just chosen a complete unknown with little relevant experience as his VP.

I don't think it can work. They're trying to get a nationwide flamewar started, but for this to work, it has to spread to that mass of people who don't follow politics intensely, and it has to be sustained for two months.

[1] Which includes a huge number of Christians on the left, who somehow fall down the memory hole.


#36 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 05:26 PM:

Caroline @ 31: Don't pick Ireland on that account. You know that phrase about university politics being so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small? The stakes aren't much bigger here.

But back to the US, which seems to demonstrate that the converse of the quip isn't true...

#37 ::: FairestCat ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 05:47 PM:

whump @23: I was really impressed by that bit. The "mean guys/girls in high school" complaint is so derided online because it rarely ever works. It's really hard to pull off credibly without coming off as weak of whiny.

I think the trick of it here was the focus on the witty quips. The Republicans in this scenario aren't the playground bullies, they're the class wits, the guys who always have the best one-liners, but nothing else.

Post-RNC the Obama camp have been doing a fairly spectacular job of turning one of the most popular complaints I hear about Obama from undecideds -- the fear that he's all talk and no substance -- back on the Republicans. It's really kind of beautiful to watch.

#38 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 06:05 PM:

Yeah, he paints them as mean and sarcastic but toothless.

#39 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 07:06 PM:

Wow. Just ... "What do you talk about, when you can't explain the last eight years of failure?" That ought to be inscribed on a plaque somewhere.

#40 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 07:11 PM:

Bob Berlien @33:
If you let a Youtube page sit idle for too long, attempting to play the videoclip will time out with an error that sounds like the clip has been removed. Try hitting reload before giving up on it.

albatross @35:
They haven't been forgotten; they've already been written off as "not really Christian". Apparently Jesus preached hatred, divisiveness, and the power of the rich, and liberal "Christians" are too clueless to read the truth. Or something like that.

#41 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 07:12 PM:

I've been waiting for this for eight years--the Democrats should have been calling BS on the administration and its minions from the get-go. Godknows Sunday manners don't make an impression on them or on the beat-down ordinary people who keep getting snookered into voting against their own material interests. Human loss aside, this is why I've missed Wellstone so sorely--he never bit his tongue. I was hoping Franken would use his best weapons (a sharp mind and a smart mouth) against the very vulnerable Norm Coleman, but Al seems to want to be a grownup, since Coleman tagged him as a teller of tasteless dirty jokes.

Now if Obama would just roll up his sleeves and get just a teensy bit less civil--

#42 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 07:17 PM:

I have to say I'm impressed by how smart the Obama campaign was in selecting Biden. When they announced him, I thought it was just a move to buy favours with the "corporatist wing", but he looks very solid now. He's acting like a first-class attack dog (which is what the VP candidate really is), and will eat Palin for breakfast if he can resist the temptation of ridiculing her on the personal level.

#43 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 07:52 PM:

Looks like Obama is starting to swing the hammer at the Palin glass house she built in her acceptance speech:

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5g-UQSWkkXyD_Javq_3RKXGziFB4gD931GBA00

""I know the governor of Alaska has been saying she's change, and that's great," Obama said. "She's a skillful politician. But, you know, when you've been taking all these earmarks when it's convenient, and then suddenly you're the champion anti-earmark person, that's not change. Come on! I mean, words mean something, you can't just make stuff up.""

I hope he keeps hammering, point by point, issue by issue, on both Palin's and McCain's previous statements. Let's see how the Republicans wriggle now they're lies are being exposed for what they are.

#44 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 08:58 PM:

I like Joe better as a running mate than when he was running for himself, I must say. I hope he keeps telling the truth and making them think it's hell - there's no shortage of outright lies to deflate.

(As designated attack dog he can say 'lie' instead of the gentler 'make stuff up,' right?)

#45 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 09:05 PM:

albatross, #35, I always say "godless heathen" here in the South. People laugh and while they're still laughing, they realize what I've actually said, and I don't get the attacks that I do when I say I'm an atheist (or materialist or secularist).

geekosaur, #40, from Roseanne Cash's Like Fugitives:

It's a strange new world we live in
Where the church leads you to hell
And the lawyers get the money
For the lives they divide and sell
And the only truth believed in
Is the one upon the screen
So we live our lives like fugitives
And we were born to live like queens

#46 ::: Charlie Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 09:06 PM:

Biden's talking about issues. However, the Republicans' avowed strategy is to avoid issues, and focus on character --- the intent being to put voters in a mental bubble where issue-talk just doesn't penetrate. (See, e.g., Krugman's column today, or the oft-reported remark from McCain's campaign manager that the election is "not about issues" --- meaning that if they want to win, it better not be.) And issue-talk itself, no matter how loud and proud, won't prick that bubble once it's in place.

So I'd trade just about all of this for one quick, cutting sound bite about Cindy McCain's earrings being worth more than the median American house...

#47 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 09:34 PM:

Marilee @45: I always say "godless heathen" here in the South.

I have a friend, who in 1st grade, answered a class survey asking for her religion, with "pagan" (her family wasn't particularly religious, and she remembered her dad describing their family as a bunch of pagans). It was in England that this particular story took place, however...

#48 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 09:48 PM:

Hell. Wow. Happy Nenya. I may actively *like* Biden now, rather than feeling he's a reasonably decent guy but not too exciting. He gets it! And he's a GOOD speaker, too. I hope he gets a chance to be heard.

#49 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 10:39 PM:

So I'd trade just about all of this for one quick, cutting sound bite about Cindy McCain's earrings being worth more than the median American house...

The Obama campaign already knows full well that the "McCain can't remember how many houses he owns" attack connected, bigtime. I'll bet they get back to this theme before long.

#50 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2008, 11:26 PM:

I hate attack ads.

But I'm looking forward to the ones that shred Palin, and The McCains. (As opposed to John McCain.)

Obama line of the day: The Republicans must think we're stupid.

#51 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 12:22 AM:

Stefan Jones: An attack ad which attackes real failures in the candidate is just fine with me.

McCain's dark-skinned kid... right the fck out.

His support of torture, his connections to corruption, his kissing George Bush, all of those (and everthing else he supports) are fair game.

Those are issues. We can attack on issues. If we do it right we can point out the emperor has no clothes.

#52 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 01:54 AM:

Terry Karney @#51:

his kissing George Bush

You really think his sex life is fair game?

#53 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 02:32 AM:

Mary Dell: Heh.

His hugging and kissing Bush in 2004 is, I think, a large part of how Bush took the popular vote.

Had he stayed on the sidelines, it could have been tighter. Had he endorsed Kerry I think Kerry would have won.

But he was afraid of bucking the Party, so he did the loyal lap-dog thing, and I don't see any reason not to remind people of how in bed he is with Bush.

#54 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 04:51 AM:

"Cindy McCain's ear-rings are worth more than most people's houses."

That's the plain english version of "more than the median". isn't it?

#55 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 08:49 AM:

There's an Obama campaign ad running down here in NC that shows McCain, in his own words, bragging that he voted with Bush on over 90% of the issues.

After McCain is done incriminating himself, the voiceover asks if the voters want another 4 years of the same failed policies...

#56 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 09:47 AM:

The title's been nagging me, and I finally realized that in the back of my head, some part of my mind was imagining Patrick saying "Hey you! Don't watch that! Watch this! This is the heavy heavy monster sound!" I adduce as support for this interpretation that the video has a guy demonstrating the probable outcome of an effort to provide interpretive dance for the speech.

#57 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 09:52 AM:

Bruce @56:
some part of my mind was imagining Patrick saying "Hey you! Don't watch that! Watch this! This is the heavy heavy monster sound!"

Brain 'splode.

#58 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 10:17 AM:

#54: It's the median, so her earrings are worth more than half the houses in America (not combined, of course).

The attack though has to be in the explicit context of how McCain doesn't care about the working class, and how his plan is to cater to the rich who might allow their wealth to trickle down to the rest of us. Otherwise, it sounds like those inane attacks on the cost of John Edwards's hair cut.

Those attacks were stupid, cheap shots because they implied that you needed to be poor and disenfranchised to fight for the poor and disenfranchised. Any attack on the cost of Mrs. McCain's earrings has to underscore their apathy towards typical, hard-working Americans. It can't just be she has a set of insanely expensive earrings.

#59 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 11:25 AM:

Well, it's about damn time!

My impression is that the Palin selection is forcing the Obama campaign to move to the left, just to define itself against a re-energized Republican youth. Good, I think, and I hope progressives can pull them along as well.

#60 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 02:00 PM:
"Cindy McCain's ear-rings are worth more than most people's houses."

That's the plain english version of "more than the median". isn't it?


Not quite, for two reasons.

First of all, the median house value is counted by house, not by person, so people with several houses like the McCains have each of their houses counted separately.

Second, and more importantly, I'm not sure that "most people" have any houses at all - not even one! Even if you count co-owners and the minor children of homeowners.


In addition, many people who live in a house don't really own it - they own only a fraction of its value (sometimes none at all; a declining real estate market can even leave you owning *negative* value). People who own 5% of a house may describe themselves as homeowners, but one late payment will show them how wrong they were.

If you lined up Americans based on how much *actual value* of house they owned (i.e. after deducting outstanding mortgages), I'm not even sure the median would be positive. Certainly it would be much less than Cindy McCain's earrings.

#61 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 02:24 PM:

I think this would be correct, then:

"Cindy McCain's ear-rings are worth more than most houses in America."
"Most" implies the median. I added "in America" because there are a lot of cheap houses in the third world.

But I also have to agree this is a snark remark of limited impact. I'm more concerned about where the money for the earrings came from. Her family made their money in a business (beer-distribution) where the government limits competition. Also, if she only spent the money on earrings and houses it would not be that big a deal. She has spent a lot more money on financing her husband's political career. But that was not a luxury expense, it was an investment that has paid big dividends, where McCain and his party use government influence to enrich their wealthy friends. Just because McCain is now for doing this above-board with preferential tax rates instead of earmarks doesn't change the fact that it is corrupt and bad for the country.

#62 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 02:25 PM:

Terry Karney @#53:

remind people of how in bed he is

But not, thankfully, how he is in bed.

#63 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2008, 03:07 PM:

TomB #61: I'm more concerned about where the money for the earrings came from.

The Breakfast Club flashback in progress....

#64 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2008, 02:12 AM:

Charlie, #46, would you settle for a comparison of the wives' designer clothes? And Vanity Fair's expert didn't actually have the earrings to check. A lot of political women wear fakes most of the time.

#65 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2008, 11:47 PM:

Bruce Baugh @56:
You too, huh? "One... Step... Beyond!"

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