Political Animal


October 11, 2012 11:45 AM Cutting Through the Fog of Political War

By Ed Kilgore

I’ve read quite a few “what to watch for” or “why it matters” or “why ___ will win” pieces on tonight’s vice presidential candidates’ debate, and it’s obvious that the foundation is there for pretty much anybody to reach pretty much any conclusion they want, barring a media-dominating gaffe or “zinger.”

All I’ll contribute to the run-up is to repeat with greater volume than I did last week that my own live-blogging of the debate and immediate post-debate analysis will not, other than sarcastically, include terms like “energy level” or “aggressiveness” or “momentum” or dwell on either candidate’s physical appearance. I know some of these things may matter to some viewers (my own grandmother voted against Richard Nixon three times because she didn’t like his nose), but you know what? We’ve got a vast, stupid entertainment industry to tell us about “style points.” And matter of fact, I’d trust Joan Rivers’ take on all the superficial stuff a lot more than that of middle-aged pundits who are pretending to understand the perspective of Americans who think about politics less each decade than they do each day.

It’s obvious that Joe Biden needs to rip the “moderate” mask off the GOP ticket, and Paul Ryan needs to keep it on. Everything other than that is probably just a detail.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on October 11, 2012 11:55 AM:

    Don't make fun of your grandmother, Ed.

    If only more people didn't like Nixon's nose, maybe this country wouldn't be dying from "Southern Strategy Flu."

  • stormskies on October 11, 2012 12:04 PM:

    Given that the declared 'winner' of the last debate by our corporate media was an corporate automaton who lied 27 times in 38 minutes, I don't hold out much hope, if any, about who will be declared the 'winner' again.

    One candidate dealt with facts, the other lies and deceptions.

    And look who 'won'.

  • David in NY on October 11, 2012 12:05 PM:

    Just occurs to me how strange it is that Mitt Romney is exactly the kind of extremist Republican that his father specifically opposed.

  • Sid Schwab on October 11, 2012 12:13 PM:

    Cutting through the fog? What about Cutting Through The Crap.

  • potomacupstream on October 11, 2012 12:16 PM:

    This is the first VP debate in the Age of the Twitterverse (is the moon in the seventh house?). The verdict will be in within nanoseconds of Martha Raddatz's first toss of the hair. And the verdict will be more inane than any single nose-hatin' grandmother could manufacture.

  • Sid Schwab on October 11, 2012 12:19 PM:

    Trying again: Cutting Through The Crap.

  • rrk1 on October 11, 2012 12:22 PM:

    Our vast, and vapid, stupid entertainment industry, which includes the media these days, has defined our culture, and elevated shallowness to a virtue. Much of the population lacks critical thinking skills, and in the absence of such, 'style points' substitute for substance.

    The only way to watch these performances is shit-faced drunk with a protective screen in front of the TV to deflect what one wants to throw at all the moronic goings on.

  • sjw on October 11, 2012 1:03 PM:

    Biden's goal: "to rip the 'moderate' mask off the GOP." You've nailed it. On abortion, taxes, health care, Ryan will try to take a moderate position like his shape-shifting colleague. It will be harder for him, as he's more committed to the hard right view of things. If he goes "left," Biden needs to call him out; if he stays "right," Biden needs to remind people of the radicalness of that position by emphasizing its consequences. (Ibid. for Obama next week, when he gets his second shot.)

  • schtick on October 11, 2012 2:12 PM:

    "It’s obvious that Joe Biden needs to rip the “moderate” mask off the GOP ticket, and Paul Ryan needs to keep it on. Everything other than that is probably just a detail."

    I love that little paragraph. Exactly, Ed.

  • CharlieM on October 11, 2012 2:59 PM:

    "Rip the mask off"?
    No. What he needs to do is (choose one)

    1) Rip him a new one
    2) Give him a curb stompin'
    3) Open a can of whoop-ass
    4) B***h-slap him to Tuesday
    5) All of the above

  • BJ smith on October 11, 2012 3:16 PM:

    6) Read Cutting Through The Crap, as Sid suggests.

  • Doug on October 11, 2012 6:48 PM:

    I, too, rather like Mr. Kilgore's last paragraph...