Friday, October 03, 2008

Idiocracy

A friend of mine in grad school had a secret. Our professors often praised her wonderful insights and her well read back ground. Everyone liked her, as she was a very genuine person and thought of her as a bit of a "star" in our department. I asked her once how she did it. She giggled and responded, "Low expectations, Claire. In my interviews I did not want to overly impress people, that way when I got here, no matter how well I did, it would be okay."

I think that this was a bit tongue in cheek as the girl was brilliant and downplayed her intelligence because she did not like drawing attention to herself. However, it was a comment that stuck with me. In 2000 I watched as W. "exceeded expectations" and got elected. You can decide for yourself how well that has worked out.

Last night Governor Palin went into her debates with Senator Biden with decidedly low expectations. Everyone said that as long as she did not say something phenomenally stupid, then she would win the debate. Wow. What does that say about the state of our politics when we are willing to live with just "doing okay," and mediocrity?

Now, I also had low expectations for the Senator. He has a tendency to run on (and on and on) and leaving me with the feeling, "Say, wha . . ?" However, this potential double sided train wreck was not enough to keep me awake last night. I watched the re-run on CNN this morning.

I have my own secret to confess. Are you ready? I was captain of the debate team in high school. Shocking, isn't it? I often watch these debates with a fake ballot in my head and try to judge them.

Yes, Governor Palin did not suck. On the other hand, she was a master dodger of questions, something that is normally a big no-no in debate. She had clearly learned some talking points and, dear God and Biden be damned, she was sticking to them. Biden was also on a chain. In the end I think this was good for both their tickets. Although I felt so-so about both, I would most definitely feel better with Biden as vice-president. In my opinion he had a better grasp of knowledge and ideas. I felt like Palin was trying to sell herself a bit too hard. The German actually turned to me and asked, "Why does she keep smiling like that? It's creeping me out."

As a bookend to the debate, the German and I rented the movie "Idiocracy" last night. Jen and Sparky recommended it. In the movie, a "regular Joe" wakes up 500 years in the future to find that the human race has not evolved, but rather devolved and the nation has become, for lack of a better word, idiots. In the movie, the most popular TV show of the day is "Ow! My Balls" and the Oscar winning movie is "Ass."

The German laughed hysterically during most of the film. I was very quiet. Why? Because some of it did not look the the future, but sadly like politics today. It reminded me of a comment that I read about Palin. "She is just like me or my sister! Isn't it cool that some one like your sister could be president?"

HELL NO! Trust me people, you do not want my sister running the country. I want my public leaders to enunciate. I want them to have "book learnin'" and "edumication." I want the very best of the best in office. However, in today's media driven politics, the "smart" guy is labeled "elitist" and the "dumb" guy is "folksy." Do I want a president that I can have a beer with, or a president that can thoughtfully negotiate a treaty with world leaders? It is your decision, really, but I know where I come down on this issue.

Joe Biden really surprised me. Because of his reputation and some of the dumb stuff he has said over the past few weeks, I was sad about my low expectations. However, I think they were unfounded. He came across as a thoughtful, intelligent and personable. He even made me cry.

Now if I could just get the German to stop saying, "Ow! My Balls!"

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Claire, this is for the baby's bottom but I'm a bit late in seeing the related post. Couldn't find an e-mail for you so I stuck it up here.

We're here in Germany too and with my last our hospital recommended 'Multilind Heilsalbe', found in most pharmacies without a prescription. It comes in a 100g tube (or smaller) and sells for approx. 20,-Euros. A little steep but worth it's weight, and due to its pasty consistency a tube will last you about a year.

My husband and I christened it 'liquid gold'. It coats the skin well and healed all diaper rashes life threw at my little one within 24-48 hours, but usually 24.

For that matter it healed all rashes, period, as there were times we used it on what looked like an allergy reaction on his legs.

If you're not already familiar I highly recommend getting some of this for the little Dude. Hope he feels better soon.

Lisa

vailian said...

Cannot make any better contribution to the diaper rash problem, but just wanted to say you gave a really excellent condensation of the debate. Palin doesn't even WANT to come across as being anything more than ordinary. Biden shows understanding and competence and humility.

Christina G said...

I pretty much agree with everything you've said, but I was impressed with Biden's performance, especially towards the end of the debate. I was surprised that he made me cry too, that was perhaps the last thing I expected.

Rabble Rouser said...

I watch the debates the same way LOL

My expectations for Biden were high and he definitely met them. I did feel like he was put on too much of a leash. There were times when you could actually see him reminding himself not to smirk. I was bothered by a few of the inaccuracies he stated because I know he knows better. I didn't catch Palin in any major lies because really she was saying a whole lot of nothing. I did hear her get a general's name wrong though I think. As I was watching, the down home speak was grating on my nerves because one- it was forced and two-I knew it would actually play in middle America.

But Biden had the best moment I thought with the story about Thurmond. That was the only moment in the whole shebang that moved me. I was a bit sad to see him get choked up during the debate since he told that story a couple of times on the trail and always choked up at the same part. The cynic in me was thinking hmmm on that one.

I agree we expect too little of our politicians. So far I've been more impressed with McCain and Biden but only slightly. Frankly, I think we've got two really depressing choices :-(

ian in hamburg said...

I really hope that's the only reason your German is saying that... :-)

Biden was coached to pull his punches and Palin to stand still while someone pulled those strings in her back. What a sad spectacle.

It's the inevitable by-product of handlers and spin-doctors running the race, though. You never see the real person in stage-managed events like this, only what they tell them the public wants them to see.

The German said...

Sorry, I said before, in this election I have no vote, so I should keep myself out of this topic....but as a member of the world and sadly one of a hundred who follows the media, I`AM scared. What the hell is going on. Is it really true if somebody said nothung and was not as bad as everybody expect this person did a great job. In this part of Germany where I come from there is a expression: You can but Lipstick on a piece of trash it still is trash.
Why am I angry. Even in Germany banks get bankruptcy because of the US housing market and German taxpayers have to pay their share. 100 Billion and more: thank U!
Why? Because of stupidness.
And now: There will be a new administration USA. And a couple of people really want to tell the US citizens, noooooo, we do not need higher Taxes, we need lower taxes, and everything will pay by itself, and by the way, we will build up a new social security system and bla bla bla. THE NEW ADMINISTRATION NEEDS MONEY (I like moooney)
But thats not the point. I hate this god lead us here, god lead us there. THAT´s blasfinismus. And why is god doing everything for the USA and not for other countries. God gave you George W. Yeah God did a great job. And now he gave U Sarah P from A. near R. and C.
I´m sorry, maybe God lost a bet or he is a joker.
Even the Pope John Paul talked to the guy that wanted to kill him. And he forgave him. Even a lot of Presidents and our Chancellor talked to Mr Arafat, a leader of a terrorist organization. Even european Statesmen talked to a president who has two of the worst jails in the world, one in Guantanamo and one in Iraque (Abu Ghraib).
Why should Mr Obama not talk to somebody. If you only use guns you do not have to wonder, if somebody shoots back. Maybe if you talk, somebody wants to talk to you.
Question is: Are U intelligent enough to talk.....
Ough My balls

PS: Hope this is my last statement before the election, because somehow I do not see the sense in talking about people I have no choice to vote for. My opinion is sadly not only based on books, and sorry, I´m a part of this culture...Best The German
Ough my balls

jen said...

Dude, not to bring this elevated conversation down a hundred notches, but I'm so glad someone else is saying "Ow, my balls!"

Sparky and i say it every time we or someone we know does something dumb and sadly, we say it a lot.

Come down to Boweltown soon. We miss you guys.

Rabble Rouser said...

I don't think you should apologize for having thoughts on an election just because it is in a different country! You make some good points but I would say 2 things:

1. The expectation game absolutely panders to the lowest common denominator. Anyone who has ever debated can tell you it is a lot harder going in with the expectation that you'll be great. What was interesting about the VP debate is that expectations weren't particularly high for either candidate. People pretty much agreed Joe Biden would do well in terms of policy but that he can come across as boring or, worse, like he is lecturing. As for Sarah Palin, people were wodnering if she could even string together a coherent sentence. It'sa bad sign when going in all people are hoping for is neither candidate to mess up too badly.

2. Second, you have to have conditions when meeting with hostile leaders. We have to remember that conditions encompass things such as where a meeting will be held and who will be in attendance. You obviously couldn't have the President going into an unprotected war zone. More importunately, especially in the Middle East, where you meet could be taken as a sign of hostility to Israel. Also, such meetings can legitimize certain regimes. I think the difference is you have to have smart conditions but conditions nevertheless. Bush's doctrine was absurd but his approach shouldn't yield an equally shortsighted approach in the opposite direction. There is a way to meet with conditions that is smart.

And man I wish I could say "Ow, my balls" too!

Diane Mandy said...

I would have pegged you as a debate captain. Guess what? I was, too.

I think as people have moved away from the VP debate they realize it wasn't draw at all. Biden won handily. And Palin came across as a babbling Barbie Doll, full of memorized one-liners and handful of tricks to just get by during the 90 minutes.

The German said...

To Rabble Rouser!
This debate thing bothers me. Can you Imagine Sarah Palin has to talk to our Ex-Secretary of state Mr Fischer, btw. she would call him terrorist and communist too, because of the things he had done in the 70th. man....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cV6RCnA5WY
After a couple of years of this terrorist level and terrorist thing starts to bother me. Everywhere are terrorists. And I have a question?
Are the Wall street gamblers terrorist too? They burned more money then every terrorist could destroy with a strike, they killed probably more people (suicide, hart attacks, and no more heath insurance) then September 11. And did anybody raise the terror level to red?
And, who knows the right level steps for the terror level?
Ow my balls!

Rabble Rouser said...

Dear The German,
See you need a blog too!

I am personally saying a quiet prayer of thanks that no one thought to raise the terror alert in correlation to the escalating economic crisis. There are few things as dumb as that color coded chart of fear.

As someone in the middle class who took a big stock hit in the market, I have lots of words I'd like to call the people on Wall Street! They preyed upon people to feed their own greed (although I'd say us Main Street people with our reliance on credit and mortgages we knew we couldn't afford also played a role) But I wouldn't label them as terrorists in the traditional sense of the word. This election cycle has been strange. It started as very hopeful (and I'd apply that to a few of the primary campaigns for both Republicans and Democrats) but now there seems to be this malaise that has settled in with people thinking we're screwed either way. Why bother? I just started canvassing again and I'm in shock over how many people will be staying home this election. And this is in PA- a swing state! I just think whomever winds up in the White House is going to be up the proverbial creek with no paddle.

And I bet he'll be saying "Ow my balls!"