I don't do very well in predicting football games, so for those of you with a betting interest I suggest you hold onto your money any time I predict anything, including this time. Part of my problem is that I tend to root with my heart. I want the Forty-Niners to win, and so, for ex, even when they went into New Orleans last Sunday and everything said that the Saints would run over the Niners, I approached that game with hope. When JT O'Sullivan was pummeled all day and when Drew Brees looked up from reading his Sunday Times-Picayune to throw the ball fifty yards downfield I wasn't surprised but it still put me into that football depression that many a man has suffered in the Fall.
Elections have that effect, too. That depression that creeps in with the shortening of the day, the chill in the wind. You're rooting for a candidate and you know he/she is the best for the job and is telling the truth, speaking truth to power, whatever. But at the end of the game you look up and your guy lost.
Debates are worse than football games. At least with football games the ball has to cross over a line for points to go up on the board.
I have this very bad feeling that Palin will be the announced winner of Thursday's debate, and this will be the first step in the media pushing the meme of McCain being in a close race with Obama. How could Palin, a candidate who is ignorant of so much, who embraces that strain of anti-science, end times Christianity, whose personal life is so disorganized and whose limited time as a Governor gives her no experience or understanding of the job of the President and the business of Washington, beat the ultimate brilliant Washington insider?
Because that has to be the strategy of the media (and their owners). No matter how badly she fumbles, no matter how she fails or refuses to answer a question, or how many times she gives a rambling anecdote about a family struggling with healthcare problems or how we must continue the war(s) so that the dead have not died in vain, she has to win in the eyes of the media.
And she will win because she's... feisty!
She may also win because Joe Biden is an "overbearing and pompous insufferable windbag" who may very well overstep himself and do something stupid or just be enough of a know-it-all that the average Joe will resent him enough to vote for the perky gal who used to be on SNL. That was a joke. But unless Palin passes out or soils herself onstage she will probably be ruled the winner. By the pundits.
These debates are much like Olympic gymnastics. Half the time you don't know what's being scored. How was this dismount .73 points better than that dismount? Worse, the people who will be scoring the debate, the media pundits, have all sorts of sliding scales, and the scales themselves are often incomprehensible. Palin could be "great for her first time" or "cool under pressure" or "right on target about the (fill in the subject)". Or she could have just "looked good".
That is, the fix is already in. You had problems with Ed Hochuli's quick whistle? I think the whistle has already been blown for this debate. Last week the immediate response from the pundits was that the first Presidential debate was a tie even though McCain's best line was, "Get off my lawn, you whippersnapper!" Okay, that was a joke too.
Granted, Palin could be so awful that no matter how the pundits try to spin it she loses by huge margins in the overnight polls. But I expect a lot of heavy lifting on the sidelines and all sorts of quick whistles and penalties called on Biden and inexplicable 10.0s on Palin's dismounts. Remember who the judges are. When the "most liberal" of the cable networks has Pat Buchanan to mediate between what you've seen and what you think you've seen you should recognize in whose pocket the mainstream media lives.
For those who forgot Buchanan was a speechwriter for Richard Nixon. He gave that particularly vicious speech at the 1992 Republican convention on "cultural wars" that Molly Ivins opined "sounded better in the original German".
If you're the betting kind you might want to stay away from this one.