Blogger Still Shaking His Head Over the Reid/Angle Debate

I've been trying to blog about something today, but keep shaking my head over Harry Reid's performance in his debate against Sharron Angle. Not only was his delivery awful, the substance - the insurance industry almost destroyed the economy! - was wildly misinformed and belied an instinctive distrust for free markets of any kind. Can someone be a socialist and not even realize it? If, yes, Harry Reid has found a way.

Luckily for Reid, he is a Democrat, so his allies in the media have spent the last 24 hours moving goalposts and downplaying Sharron Angle's performance in a rear guard action to save Reid's job. For example, it turns out that Angle's exhortation to Reid that he "man up" over the precarious condition of Social Security is ... sexist! (h/t JustOneMinute)

Tea Partier Sharon Angle continues to induce brain freeze in her critics. The latest victims are Tommy Christopher of Mediaite and Alan Colmes of wherever. Let's start with Mediate:

‘Man Up?’ What if Harry Reid Told Sharron Angle to ‘Act Like a Lady?’

and over to Alan:

Was Sharron Angle Sexist To Tell Harry Reid, “Man Up!”?

Sorry, boys, but I think the rule is, women can continue to tell men to "man up" for as long as black people can call one another "n*****." Also, as the NY Times helpfully points out, Democratic women are big on the "man up" jab, the better to try to generate "I am woman, hear me roar" press coverage.

More important is the unrelenting effort to label Sharron Angle "extreme" while carefully avoiding any mention of anything particularly extreme that she has done or said. I keep hearing that she is in favor of privatizing Social Security. Wow, no one's ever thought of that! The details of Angle's extremity seem a little too conveniently vague to take seriously. We heard all about Christine O'Donnell's "extreme" views on masturbation and pre-marital sex (she's against both. that's extreme now?) very quickly and in great detail, after all.

Still, the liberal commentariat persists. Kevin Drum over at Mother Jones says Angle is simply the sort of carnival show that a pro like Harry Reid has to wade through in 2010.
So I guess that's where we are. Freakish candidates are now held to such low standards that all they have to do is surprise us by not sounding like they belong in a locked mental ward. Welcome to 2010.
Again, some details on what makes her a freak or "freakish", please? She looks like a middle aged grandma with stout conservative principles. Harry Reid, meanwhile, was rambling about colonoscopies and acting like he believed no person in America could obtain preventive medical care without government intervention. Talk about a freak show...

James Joyner simply declares that, in this debate, everyone was a loser
The point seems to be, not that Angle wasn’t as awful as everyone figured she’d be but that she was every bit as good — or, should I say, every bit as bad — as Harry Reid. Reid has been in the Senate 23 years and the leader of the Senate Democrats since 2005. So, to the extent that these faux debates are a measure of competence to hold the office in question, holding her own against the veteran incumbent demonstrated that she was up to the task. Or, at least, as up to it as Reid.
I don't know why Joyner feels like he needs to insult Angle's intelligence. If she's so stupid, how is it she easily went toe to toe with the majority leader of the Senate and even rattled him a number of times?

Joyner also wonders why we have debates anyway. Of course, conventional wisdom has always been that Dems are superior to Republicans in debate, thus the endless calls for as many debates as possible. But, now that this supposed advantage has failed to save Reid, debates are suddenly as relevant to 21st century America as paper title deeds.

Now, I happen to think these scripted exchanges of talking points with an interlocutor from the press are mostly worthless. Indeed, I’m not sure that even Oxford or Lincoln-Douglas style debates tell you much about competence to perform in a given political office. Those, at least, test intellect, the ability to think on one’s feet, and temperament. But the skill sets are still only tangentially related to the day-to-day task of governing.

I'll agree that modern political debating is a lot more about show biz and memorization than it is about leadership, but still...we always manage to learn something about the candidates, don't we?

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