Let’s face it, Joe Biden can probably anticipate 90% of the topics he will face in tomorrow’s debate. And he has been around long enough to understand that a) staying on message (i.e. change v. third Bush term) and b) delivering entertaining and compelling sound bites determine the winners of Presidential debates, not the collegiate debate tournament scoring system.
So, Team Biden has been scripting and practicing sound bites. Here’s hoping he approaches the common questions with uncommon candor and color. For instance:
If pressed about the importance of a fresh perspective in DC. “It’s about way more than fresh faces. A fresh face that doesn’t bring fresh policies does America no good. But a wrinkly old face like mine that brings fresh policies is what America desperately needs. Obama-Biden will end the war, end tax giveaways to the rich, end the oil industry monopoly and cut middle class taxes. Regardless of these wrinkles, you better believe that’s change.”
If pressed to comment about Palin’s experience. “I’ll leave that for voters to judge. But to me, policies matter much more than experience. After all, no one had more experience than Vice President Cheney, and his policies were a disaster. So here is the problem: On Iraq, oil company giveaways, and tax loopholes for the wealthy, Bush-Cheney and McCain-Palin are the same, the same and the same. Experience isn’t the problem; the sameness is the problem.”
If the moderator asks Biden to direct a question at Palin. “What are three major policies you and Vice President Cheney disagree on and why?”
If they ask Biden about his biggest weakness. “Lots of people spin when they answer the question, but I’m going to shoot it straight. Sometimes I talk when I should be listening. I guess we all do it to some extent, and I work hard to overcome it. But I still do it way more than I should. No BS, that’s my Achilles heal.”
If they ask about earmarks. “Lots of politicians who receive earmarks demagogue against them, and I’m not going to do that. Some earmarks are a problem, so we should require debate and disclosure, and expose people who seek irresponsible ones. But as a good friend of mine used to say, it’s time for some straight talk my friends. This problem is way overblown. Earmarks make up less than 1% of the federal budget, so let’s do better there, but let’s not ignore the other 99% of spending. And people seeking them should earmarks shouldn’t be hypocritical about it.”
If they ask about Palin’s proximity to Russia. “Voters can judge on their own whether that’s relevant. But the question the world faces is how we are going to get the Russians out of Georgia, not how we are going to get them out of Juneau. So let’s stay focused on what really matters to the American people. This is serious stuff, so let’s not trivialize it.”
If pressed about the “paying taxes is a patriotic duty” comment. “You know, I’ve said some really dumb things in my life. (Pause) But that’s not one of them. I won’t back off that statement. Not one bit. Hell yes, every patriot needs to help support our soldiers, veterans, kids, and seniors. Hell yes, the wealthiest 5% haven’t done as much as they used to do, or should. We all have to do our part, especially relatively wealthy people like me.”
When pressed about the surge. “Iraq is like an illness with a whole bunch symptoms. The military surge is a treatment for ONE of those symptoms, and it’s helped. That’s terrific. But let’s not forget that the other symptoms of Iraq’s illness are not getting better, and let’s not forget that the relief from the military surge medicine is temporary and very, very, very expensive. We can’t sustain that forever. To get out of Iraq we have to stop coddling the Iraqi government, and force them to take over. It’s time. The Iraqi government has to step up to launch their own diplomatic surge, democratic surge, human rights surge, civic engagement surge, tolerance surge, anti-terror surge, and infrastructure surge. If they do that, Iraq will be all right. If they don’t, it won’t. But at this stage, we need to transition our soldiers out of there, and it needs to be in the Iraqi’s hands. Our soldiers have done a lot, but they can’t do it all, and they can’t do it forever. Iraq, you’re up.”
If asked about being wrong about supporting the Iraqi invasion. “Yep. I was wrong. I believed the Bush Administration intelligence, and it was wrong. But thank goodness Barack Obama had the judgement to be right all along. And thank goodness there are enough people like me willing to admit when we made a mistake. Because the only thing worse than making a mistake is being unwilling to admit it. We need to support our troops, folks, not support our egos. Let’s fix this mistake right now.”
If pressed to comment about a gaffe either Biden or Palin committed. “Look, no one can out-gaffe me, so don’t even try, okay? You’re up against the Master. Seriously, can we be real for just a second. The gaffes that really matter are not the inevitable verbal slip-ups that all candidates make. The gaffes that matter are the policy gaffes, like the gaffes that converted the Clinton economic boom into the Bush-Cheney economic crisis. Now THOSE are the gaffes that REALLY matter.”
If asked a straightforward question that doesn’t necessitate elaboration. “Hold on, because I’m about to shock the nation. My answer to the question is simply ‘yes.'” (Bow)
If Biden wants to win this debate, he should be more candid and unconventional than the standard politician. Agree? Got ideas about how he should do that?