Obama-Palin debate in 2012--strategy?

Someone in the “Palin good job?” thread asked about an Obama - Palin debate in 2012 as if it were a slamdunk, bt I think it’s sorta tricky, and would like to discuss the correct approach. For Obama, of course–Palin’s job is easy, to struggle to keep her head above water for 90 minutes and not utter too many humiliating gaffes.

But Obama’s got a tougher job–shooting fish in a barrel isn’t easy when your audience is going to be feeling sorry for the fish. (I estimate that Palin could have MTP, Maximum Terrible Performance, and Obama do a terrific job, and about 25% of the viewers will award the victory to her, anyway, just—well, just 'cuz.) But there’s another dangerous 25%, who aren’t rabid Sarah!!! fanatics, but are still dumb enough to award her big points because they identify with the underdog, and besides she didn’t do THAT bad, and he was kinda bullying her there a little, didn’t I think I saw a smirk at one point flashing across his face, etc…

IOW, how does Obama use his vast superiority to her in every way, shape and form without looking smug and snotty (I realize that about 50% of the audience wants him to look smug and snotty, but it’s not smart strategy, IMO.) OTOH, he doesn’t want to defer to her too much, does he, because that could backfire by granting a legitimacy that she hasn’t earned. Or maybe she will have earned it simply by gaining the Pubbie nomination, and that’s just good sense to take her seriously as an opponent, however brain-impaired she may be?

I think that’s the best strategy, to pretend to debate her earnestly, bolster her cred a bit but not stand accused of bullying, and do all his eye-rolling offstage with the cameras off.

Wait, why would Obama debate Palin?

I’d like a shot at him. Why doesn’t he debate me?

I believe the hypothetical involves Palin winning the Republican primary.

Bricker for GOP Presidential Candidate!!

Thank you; I’m honored to accept.

I think that Obama’s best strategy would be to prepare for the debate, and speak during the debate, as if he were up against a real political heavyweight woman (Hillary, or Condi, or Nancy Pelosi, perhaps). Treat her with the utmost respect, stick to the facts, and never let any bullshit pass unchallenged. Be the class act he’s been in previous debates. And never let his guard down.

Because Palin is NOT as stupid as she lets on.

Wait, wait, not so fast.

Sir, are you from an energy-producing state? Do you have a coherent moose-killing policy? Will the guy who knocks up your daughter be a complete tool, or just a minor douchebag? How much of your PAC money will you be spending on Prada?

I agree except for the last sentence. She is every bit as stupid as she seems. If it won’t fit on a bumper sticker, it’s too complex for her. We’re talking about someone who doesn’t know why there are two Koreas. She is great at demagoguery, her backstabbing skills are second to none, but she lacks both the intellect and the work ethic to talk intelligently about any topic.

I remember waiting for her to give her VP acceptance at the convention so I could watch the dunce bomb…then she rocked the house.

I remember waiting for Biden to filet her…then she more than held her own.

Obama needs to treat her with the utmost respect. She can disarm all of his fact-wanking, data based assessments with one colloquialism.

The debate is not scored on a system and no winner is declared. It is for the consumption of the public, and they cannot talk intelligently about the pressing topics of the day either. Nor can they abide a lengthy, in-depth discussion of the issues. Debates are simply a tool to emotionally stimulate the populace, and she is a master at it.

I’ve heard this floated before, and it may be true, but it leads me to wonder: then why the hell does she let it on?

Because people who live the unexamined life need representation too. The real question is why there aren’t any elected officials on the left (at least in the US) who make so little effort to make sense.

Because like Bush (who was also supposed to be monumentally stupid), she isn’t going for the intellectual and sober look. She is trying to be ‘folksy’ or ‘just one of the people’. Granted, it sets my teeth on edge (with her more than it did with Bush…with him, I always liked the way he talked, I just didn’t like what he DID), but it has an appeal to a surprisingly large group of American’s, and folks around here dismiss that at their own peril. There is, sadly, a lot of American’s who don’t like people who put on what they consider ‘intellectual’ airs, and a lot of people for who someone who talks like one of them sparks a cord.

I don’t believe that Palin is going to win the Republican nomination in 2012, so I don’t think she and Obama will ever debate, but if Obama makes the same mistake as some of you in this thread (that she is too stupid to take seriously), he may get hurt in the first debate before he wises up. Being able to reel off factoids, even if they are correct, is less important in a debate than being able to connect with people, convey your message (even if it’s wrong), and making them comfortable with you as a candidate. All those things Palin can certainly do, at least to people who aren’t already militantly opposed to her. There are a lot of undecided folks out there…

(Fortunately, as I think Obama has shown, while his base might be stupid about this sort of thing, HE certainly isn’t, so I think it’s highly unlikely he’d dismiss her or fail to take her seriously. Besides, he has tons of charisma himself and a lot of appeal as well)


Some months ago I offered a bet that Palin won’t get 10% of the vote in the New Hampshire primary. I’m still willing to offer that to any takers.


Yes and no. She really DID get pwned by Katie Couric (of all people) in that interview, and it really DID hurt the ticket, based on what I heard from Republicans & Republican-leaners I know. That wasn’t a matter of strategy.

I understand a folksy affectation, but she’s a politician, not a character actor. Are you trying to tell me she uses words like ‘refudiate’ on purpose, and all her word-salad speeches are actually carefully crafted prose designed to make stupid people like her? I don’t buy it.

I think she’s precisely as stupid as she lets on … which, in fairnes, I don’t think rises to the ‘hey y’all, watch this’ level of stupidity.

Meh. Does anyone follow proper grammar and spelling rules on Twitter? I refuse to sign up, so I don’t know.

Well, whether or not she was ‘pwned’ is, of course, a matter of perspective. Even if that were the case (and I think it was), she has had some time now to polish herself up and add some depth and experience (at least interview wise) to her bag of tricks.

:stuck_out_tongue: What is it you think politicians today do? They study (and are coached) on how to walk, talk, move, gesture…pretty much everything. They get professional acting trainers, same as actors get, and for much the same reason.

No, it’s not designed to make’ stupid people’ like her…that’s your prejudice shining through. It’s designed to make her appealing to people who consider themselves ‘just folks’ or ‘real people’…i.e., to a large segment of American’s. Certainly a lot of that is just her being her, but as with Bush there is a degree of artifice going on here, a deliberate attempt to allow those folksy sayings, phrases and language inflections to come out.

Pretty much exactly the rap that was (and still is) put on Bush. The funny thing is, he not only got elected but he got RE-elected. Just keep that in mind. Happily, while you may dismiss her, I’m pretty sure Obama wouldn’t, in the highly unlikely event that she managed to secure the Republican nomination.


She’s not polling well there. Iiii… I might take that bet, but I don’t think she’ll break 20%.