Friday, October 03, 2008

Debating the debate. And getting a read on Happiness.

What can I say here that wasn't said a thousand times on TV between 11 p.m. last night and now, and won't be said a few million times, today, at water coolers everywhere? If Palin's goal was to be "likable" and to avoid a catastrophic meltdown in front of 50 million-plus people, I guess she achieved her goal...though I could've lived without all the "you betchas" and "by goshes." Gack. But see, even that is what one might term parochialism, if not elitism, on my part. I'm sure there are many places throughout Americaonce you drive out beyond the shadows of the skyscrapers and into towns where everybody still gets married at the local Legion Postwhere people, nice people, good people, actually talk that way.

Bottom-line, I still get the same sense from Sarah Palin that I got at Convention: that she's performing her material rather than just saying (or even thinking) it. She just didn't sound real to me; she sounded theatrical and over-rehearsed. In fact, there were times when her phrasing would be awkward and unnatural at the beginning of a point, then she'd suddenly hit her stride, and I felt I knew exactly what she was doing: trying to vamp until she found the right language to bridge to the part of the script that applied. That's why I think the post-debate pundits got it wrong when they made such a point of the fact that she "stared straight into the camera to connect with America" instead of mostly addressing the moderator or the audience, as Biden had.
I think that was a deliberate, carefully practiced, quasi-self-hypnotic tactic of blanking out all else so that she could access memory modules and find the appropriate phrase for the occasion. Speaking of missing modules, I thought it was very clever of the McCain camp to write her a "get out of jail free" card, that brassy line about how she "may not answer questions the way the moderator or the media would like," or however she put it. No doubt she was told, "Look, Sarah, we've done the best we can with you. But if you get hit with something totally out of left fieldlike, say, the number of states currently in the union, or the native language of the people of Spain?this is what you should say." By the way, I betcha she has no idea of the origins of the phrase, "Say it ain't so, Joe." That's no big deal; I'm sure a lot of people don't know, especially if they're not long-time baseball fans. But I have a feeling Biden knew, and I was sorta salivating over the prospect of him asking her if she knew (which you should, if you're going to use the phrase at a time like that). It would've been a nice moment. Of course, I'm sure she would've replied, "I may not answer questions the way you would want me to, but hey, I'm a maverick!" (Wink, wink)

Final thought, for now: Biden without a doubt has the best smile in Washington (and possibly anywhere), but I wish he would've used it less often on the heels of a stinging or smart-alecky remark from Palin. I don't understand what gets into these people, because I'm sure that if the setting were elsewhere, and someone accused Biden of trying to deceive America about his support for a war in which over 4000 Americans had already died
(a war in which both debaters have sons now serving), his natural response would not be that big, beaming, handsome smile. I don't get it. Is it awkwardness? An attempt to appear "unruffled"? A knee-jerk mechanism for controlling anger? If by some miracle you're ever reading this, Joemay I call you Joe?please tell me.


My piece in today's Wall Street Journal,
"Happy Talk," had an interesting evolution. I wrote it at 950 words (the usual length for the spot), then was asked to supply some additional context/examples, which I did, bloating it to almost 1300 wordsthen it had to be edited back to 950 words for space reasons. I mention this because I'm not as crazy about the 950 words we ended up with as I was about the 950 words I first submitted. Such is the life of a writer. By this point in my career, I've done more than 500 essays and articles of varying lengths and ambitions...and out of all that, I can think of maybe a half-dozen I was totally, well, happy with, as published.

Anyway, while the points this piece makes may be (numbingly?) familiar to the faithful here, they bear driving home to the approximately 300 million Americans (out of approximately 300 million) who never heard of SHAMblog, and who dismiss magical thinking as, at worst, harmless silliness. Anyone seeking tangible proof of positive thinking's subtle contributions to the near-collapse of America as we know it need look no farther than the whole sub-prime mortgage mess.


Anonymous said...

Excellent article Steve and really very relevant in illuminating the cause of todays credit crunch.

well done

londoner said...

Interesting article, Steve!

Can you imagine what would happen if quality control people went to work each day assuming that all is good and that "the universe" will take care of the details?

Anonymous said...

When Biden said "Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American" and then went on to say that "Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that’s the Executive Branch..." I was stunned he got it so wrong.

Article 1 is all about the legislative branch of government. Article 2 covers the Executive branch. Every first-year law student knows that, so why doesn't the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a guy who teaches at law school on the side?

And when, exactly, did "We kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon" happen?? Really?

These two can bicker over all sorts of hypothetical policy details all they want; but historical facts should be accurate when they are included in an argument.

And on the shallow side of things - Sarah, cut your bangs. They are too long and I didn't know if you were winking at me or trying to keep the hair out of your eyes. And Joe - take it easy with the forehead Botox. Taking out every last wrinkle in your forehead made your eyes asymmetrical and gave you a creepy, phony look. Scrappers from Scranton don't need no stinkin' Botox!

Also, Biden needs to cut way back on the Botox in the forehead

Steve Salerno said...

A word here on something that appears to be different about American political mores. As noted in this article in the Atlantic online...

...Joe Biden received his highest rating from one of Frank Luntz's storied focus group when told his emotional story about being a single father. There was a time, and not all that long ago, when it would've been political suicide for a male candidate to choke up or cry (except in obvious, fairly well-defined circumstances like at the funeral of victims of a terrorist disaster). Certainly a man would never have been expected to show tears during a political debate--and especially not during a "personal story."

The times, they have a-changed.

Steve Salerno said...

Seriously Amused, that's an excellent and highly pertinent point.

Steve Salerno said...

Hmmm. So is Botox the X Factor in Election 2008?

I guess I was extra-savvy in cropping the photo to show just Joe's teeth...but then again, I'm sure they're capped/whitened.

roger o'keefe said...

This post is a perfect example of what I mean last time, Steve. The woman did well last night. Why not just give her credit and leave it at that? Why overanalyze everything in a way designed to take away any credit? If this blog has a major weakness, it's in that area.

I did like the Journal piece though. Read it this morning before I read your blog and I have to admit I enjoyed feeling like I was an insider to all of it. Nice work. I know the competition for those slots is fierce.

Steve Salerno said...

Well then, Roger, to respond to the two-headed tone of your comment, I guess I'm sorry and I'm glad. ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure somebody is going to accuse of something for this, but I was thinking last night how odd: the man cries and the woman seems like the tough imperturbible one.

RevRon's Rants said...

Great article, Steve... Won't get you too many gigs as a motivational speaker at corporate puff-fests, but you already knew that!

I think that Palin did better than most people expected (would've been difficult to do worse). While her performance was endearing, I couldn't help but picture her sitting across the table from Putin, spouting platitudes and winking seductively. Somehow, it just doesn't seem to work.

I still tend to trust someone whose passion for their subject is obviously borne of in-depth consideration and extensive research, rather than a finals-week cram session. Palin's responses indicated the latter to be the case.

In my first semester in college, I was pre-med (!), and managed to absorb sufficient knowledge to pass my exams. By the end of my second semester, I had switched my major to English/Political Science, and found that I retained more from my studies - long after finals - than I had as a pre-med major. I could have made it through and gone to medical school, but that wasn't where my passion was. As a result, I think I'm a much more competent as a writer than I would have been as a physician.

I guess I see Palin facing a similar conundrum. She would be a great governor, especially in a state where the office is primarily a ceremonial figurehead, but I still can't see her crafting or implementing domestic policy or spearheading international diplomatic relations. Biden was gentle with her, primarily to avoid being perceived as condescending. I somehow doubt that the leader du jour of countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Cuba, or Venezuela would be as chivalrous.

Dimension Skipper said...

For what it's worth... Post-debate coverage from and

For the most part it appears to be pretty much the same distortions and half-truths which have been ongoing as far as I can tell, but I could be wrong.

My only comment about it all is just that I'm kind of tired of McCain/Palin continually referring to themselves as mavericks. To me that's something that you leave to other people to decide, you can't just bestow it upon yourself. They should at least confine themselves to using it only in reference to each other, but continually saying "I'm a maverick" (instead of the less boastful "I'm known by some as something of a maverick" or even "I've earned a reputation as something of a maverick") just seems wrong to me. It's too short and quick to the point without enough humility. Again, I could be wrong, but that's how I see it and, for me anyway, it's gotten tiresome.

Steve Salerno said...

DS: But really, what else are they gonna say, at this point? (I'm not defending it, just explaining it.) In Palin's case, when you have no experience, you run on inexperience--make a positive out of a negative--so I guess that's what makes her a maverick. In McCain's case, he has to distance himself as much as possible from the Republican currently in charge, and indeed, the Republican party itself.

It still amazes me that neither Obama nor Biden has yet held their counterparts' feet to the fire in terms of which party they represent. I don't care how much of a "maverick" you label yourself--and DS, you're absolutely right about that, it isn't a label one should claim for himself--but in any case, McCain and Palin were nominated by the same convention, and many of the same people, who cheered wildly for the man presently in power, who all pretty much agree by now has brought the nation to the brink of ruin. To my mind, it doesn't (or shouldn't) even matter if McCain and Palin promise a "fresh start" with "new ideas." The GOP must be punished first for its sins--and I don't quite understand what's so impolitic (apparently) about saying that.

RevRon's Rants said...

DS - Glad I'm not the only one who rolls his eyes every time McCain or Palin refer to themselves as "mavericks." Maybe they're tryiong to grab some of the chutzpah the increasingly erratic Tom Cruise displayed in "Top Gun."

But heck, bestowing grandiose nicknames upon one's self has become all the rage, don't you know? If current trends continue, maybe Obama will end up calling himself the Buddha of the Beltway! Perhaps in an attempt to out-folksy Palin, while not altogether sacrificing his intelligent image, Biden will buy himself a phony degree and start calling himself Dr. Joe... Oops, someone else has already bought that one! But if Biden would only learn how to wink effectively, he might just nab the Log Cabin Republicans' vote.

It's gonna be an interesting few weeks...

Akhetnu said...

Great article Steve!

I've encountered even some philosophers and techno types who feel the ultimate aim of human existence is to be happy (in the emotional pleasure sense). This will provide ample ammunition against this institutionalized teleological Happydom.

What ever happened to happiness as eudaimonia instead of a preferred emotion or sensation?

Anonymous said...

Palin complains that the media "censored" her. By this she means that Couric and others did not ask her questions that would allow her to rant against Obama. This is a woman who studied journalism and who, when asked, could not name one newspaper she reads. It's not surprising then that she does not know the meaning of the word "censored."

In other developments, the unthinkable has happened: rabid conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer unloaded his wrath on McPalin and endorsed Obama, calling him a man of first-class intellect and first-class temperament, well suited for presidency.

Cal said...


What was the elapsed time from your original submission to the WSJ, through the expansion of the op-ed, and then subsequent final edit?

Steve Salerno said...

Cal: Roughly one week.

Elizabeth said...

Biden without a doubt has the best smile in Washington (and possibly anywhere), but I wish he would've used it less often


Seriously, yes, he does have a great smile, mmm....;)

And even more seriously, I get your point, Steve, but I thought his smile was totally appropriate. Overall, his emotional displays were congruent with his behavior and the content of his talk, unlike Palin's, whose beauty pageant sotto voce-smile-and-wink routine was bizarre and often incongruent with her words. E.g. when she talked about a possibility of losing our freedom(s) (oh, the irony) and smiled reassuringly and sweetly, cooing straight to the cameras. And then there were moments when she appeared positively pre-orgasmic for no (discernible) reason, like, for example, talking about her love for Israel. LOL. Doggone it, on occasion this reality show looked like it should have come with a parental warning, thanks to Sarah's massive (and weirdly inappropriate) charm offensive, wink wink, also. If I had a stomach for it, I would have tuned to Rush Limbaugh today to hear about his experiences watching his newest sweetheart last night...

Ahem. Anyway, Biden is a man of unquestionable emotional intelligence, light years ahead of Palin in this and other respects. I'll take his smile or his anger -- or his tears -- over her fake beauty pageant routines any day.

And last, but not least, nice article, Steve.

Jeanette said...

If you want to see who really won the debate last night, read it in transcript. When you take away the performance part and just read their answers it's stunning how little Palin really says!

Steve Salerno said...


1. You don't get orgasmic over Israel? (Jerusalem, at least?)

2. I know exactly what you mean about the near-giggly, push-button emotions on Palin's part. There were times when she looked more like a spokesmodel for some "revolutionary new household cleaner!" than a v.p. candidate.

3. But remember, you have to stop talking about the irony of a GOP candidate referencing the loss of freedoms, because that seems to be a sly swipe at Bush, which means you're still looking backwards, not forwards, to the Real Change she and McCain are going to provide! (Even though Palin herself was seemingly quoting or invoking Reagan every 2 minutes.)

Jeanette: Yes, I thought the same exact thing today. Thank you for pointing it out. I was remiss in not doing so.

Elizabeth said...

Ellen? Ellen??

You betcha now I'm not gonna get orgasmic over Israel also.


RevRon's Rants said...

Jeannette - But without being able to watch the video, you'd miss seeing her attempts to look like she wasn't reading from the notes she brought. That would lessen the impact of her "performance," in my opinion.

Elizabeth said...

One more thing on the nonverbal communication of our debaters (always a fun topic):

There was one indisputable though extremely brief moment of genuine emotion in Palin's performance and it happened when she committed one of the best (IMO) political Freudian slips, ever, by saying:

"(McCain) is the man that we need to leave-- lead in these next four years, because these are tumultuous times."*

You could see distress and panic flash across her face in that very moment as she realized her gaffe, but she plowed right through it and continued with her pre-rehearsed routine. It was electrifying to watch.

*Finally something Palin and I agree on.

Elizabeth said...

And the best moment of the debate (IMO), hands (and hankies) down, from Joe Biden:

But the notion that somehow, because I'm a man, I don't know what it's like to raise two kids alone, I don't know what it's like to have a child you're not sure is going to -- is going to make it -- I understand.

(Joe Biden, you are my man!:)

Anonymous said...

Is Palin from Wisconsin or Alaska? As the debate progressed, her accent became more pronounced.

There was a lot more love between these two than McCain and Obama. They agree on so much. They both agreed there is global warming, government spends too much, and bankers/corporate CEOs need to pay for their sins. I think they had a little love fest going on. Palin, "Can I call you Joe Senator Biden?" Biden, "please do Govenor." Did you catch that?

Anon 10:46 I was appalled by Biden's gaff with the Constitution too. Everyone knows the vice-president has limited powers. Yeah, I thought Hezoballah was still in Lebanon too. Who knew they were gone? Yes, please know our Constitution and government if you are running a political office. It helps a great deal. Maybe he was so enthralled with Palin Biden forgot?

I thought Biden got hair plugs?

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, please give this a moment of thought before you answer, because I don't think the question is as "frilly" as it sounds at first. Is it possible that you are just a little bit enthralled with Joe Biden, as a man, in the same way that some guys seem to "have a thing" for Sarah Palin? We all like to talk about picking candidates for meaningful, qualitative reasons, but I got to tell you, you sound like a woman with a serious case of the Hots for Sen. Joe. I'm not trying to be snide, I'm just basing it on everything you yourself have said here on the blog today. So is it possible that your judgment right now is a little hormonally clouded?

RevRon's Rants said...

Anon - While I'll make no attempt to speak for Eliz and her fantasies, I gotta say that I think it was out of line to ask her such a question, especially in a public forum. It presupposes that her intellectual capacity is overshadowed by her libido, and especially given the detail with which she has so often explained, justified, and defended her conclusions, merely implying such a covert agenda is, to my thinking, absurd.

She and I have disagreed - quite strongly - on a number of points, but it would never occur to me to dismiss the validity of her opinion thusly, and I would question the motivation for asking her this question in a public forum.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron, I think you know me well enough to know that Anon's question gave me pause; I thought a few moments before i posted it, and I went back and re-read what Elizabeth herself has posted today. By no means am I implying that my decision to post the comment means that I'm endorsing what Anon says. However, we do spend an awful lot of time on this blog talking about "what makes a candidate a legitimate candidate," and especially in Palin's case, we have discussed ad nauseam her superficiality, and have debated the subject of the mental gyrations people go through in attempting to justify her candidacy. So, given all that, I think the question--though uncomfortable--is legitimate.

Elizabeth is certainly within her rights to ignore it.

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve - Given the aforementioned detail with which she has addressed her thoughts, and given the fact that pretty much anything she said in her defense could be construed as denial on her part, it would seem unlikely that the anonymous poster would accept any response she offered, and would just as likely construe a non-response as an admission. A lose-lose proposition, any way you look at it.

Steve Salerno said...

You're probably right, Ron. It's just that there have been so many accusations leveled about supporting candidates for the wrong reason. For example, Obama himself has been said to benefit from a certain "coolness factor" or even has been called "inspirational," neither of which--I think you and I would agree--is sufficient reason to support someone for president. By the same token, we both know that there are people who oppose Obama strenuously just because he's black--another superficial reaction. So now we have a situation where a good-looking guy debates a good-looking woman...and I don't think it's unreasonable to at least wonder (especially given some of the language used in his support) whether we're really basing our perception of Biden's "victory" on the right things.

Dimension Skipper said...

Anon 6:55 PM: "Is Palin from Wisconsin or Alaska? As the debate progressed, her accent became more pronounced."

Benjamin Zimmer at Language Log posted on October 1st about Palin's accent, noting that "Slate has posted a well-researched analysis by the OED's Jesse Sheidlower." (So I give it extra credibility points since it's endorsed as "well-researched" by Mr. Zimmer.) The gist of the Slate article is that Ms. Palin's accent is indeed Alaskan and apparently Wasillan. Having never ventured anywhere near Alaska I'll take their word (pun intended) on that.

Mr. Zimmer quotes the first paragraph of the Slate piece:

"Since Sarah Palin was selected as the Republican candidate for vice president, many people have made comments about her unusual speech, comparing it to accents heard in the movie Fargo, in the states of Wisconsin and Idaho, and in Canada. Some have even attributed her manner of speaking to her supposed stupidity. But Palin actually has an Alaskan accent, one from the Matnuska and Susitna Valley region, where Palin's hometown, Wasilla, is located."

I'll also quote the last paragraph:

"Reaction to Palin's speech has been highly varied. Some people dislike it, finding it harsh or grating; others regard it as charming or authentic. These are common responses to a distinctive accent. Depending on the context, such an accent can make a person seem stupid or uneducated or, conversely, honest and folksily trustworthy—often at the same time. Some people exploit this for effect, emphasizing and de-emphasizing dialect features to prompt a particular reaction. Linguists call this code-switching. In this Palin interview with Katie Couric, you can hear her enunciating her -ings and her yous more clearly in responses where she appeared to have a ready answer, and returning to her more natural -in' and ya when she seemed stumped, which suggests that Palin may have been deliberately attempting to minimize her dialect features for that audience."

Obviously, just click to view the Slate article if you're interested in all the details between the two paragraphs.

RevRon's Rants said...

As someone else said earlier, we'd do well to read the debate transcript, losing the benefit of Palin's winks and Biden's smile and tears.

Eliz thinks Biden's an attractive guy. If that were all she'd said, I'd probably be making the charge myself. But she has offered enough clear evidence of her logic to pretty well eliminate a schoolgirl crush as being the foundation of her support.

I think Palin's an attractive woman. At one time, I'd probably have jumped at the chance to engage in the horizontal mambo with her. Then, she opened her mouth, and the song,"You've lost that lovin' feeling" started dancing nmy head, and no amount of Viagra would bring it back. Based upon extensive conversations with Elizabeth (to which we've all been witness), I just can't bring myself to attribute such shallowness to her. She's been dead wrong a few tines, but never shallow. :-)

Elizabeth said...

Ron, thank you! :) Really.

Now, LMAO.

There will be dragons...

Wait... Anon, what? FILF, you say...? Perish the thought! (And say seven Hail Marys, on your knees, as penance. Sheesh.)

What can I say, Anon... You've found me out. When Biden rears his head over that lectern and flashes that sparkly grin of his, I swear I can see Alaska... Gosh darn it, what's a girl to do?

Alright, more seriously (I think), lemme ask ya somethin':

I've written so much here about Palin, more than once calling her "hot," in addition to what I think were relatively cogent explanations as to why she is the wrong VP candidate (along with presenting my clear, I thought, reasons for supporting the Obama/Biden ticket -- reasons that have to do with their policy and not their smashing good looks, btw).

So, given my frequent, especially early on, positive remarks on Palin's appearance and charm, do you think I have hots for her too?
(I tell ya, stranger things have happened.)

Hormonally yours,

P.S. Rev, this is the best line I've heard here in a long time:

Then, she opened her mouth, and the song,"You've lost that lovin' feeling" started dancing in my head, and no amount of Viagra would bring it back.

Man, you should consider writing for the Letters to Penthouse! (The Saucy Sarah Episode.)

Once I stop laughing my head off, I'll be able to tell you that you've made my day.

Elizabeth said...

P.S. Rev, dead wrong?!


Steve Salerno said...

DS: Btw, let me say (if I haven't said this before; I think I might have, but it's no less apt today) that I very much appreciate your contributions here, and your ongoing efforts to anchor our discussion in fact. Frankly I don't often have the time to chase these things down as well as I should/could, so all independent fact-finding is greatly welcomed.

Dimension Skipper said...

No problem, Steve. But while I appreciate the sentiment and thank you for it, I'm obligated to state for the record that I'm a fairly regular browser of Language Log. So in this case I simply remembered having seen the item in question.

Actually, at the time I didn't click on through to the Slate item, but tonight I did when the accent issue was raised here. So I was spurred by the anon comment here and benefitted as well. It's all connected, right? ;-)

Anyway, I just thought that since I'm commenting again, I may as well point out (as proof that I'm a regular reader of LL) these two just-posted Language Log items with debate-relevant content:

[ the [ most adjective ] noun ] by Eric Baković

I'll quote what I thought was the most interesting bit, but frankly I think a lot of it gives too much credit for forethought where there may not be so much...

So are McCain and others lying when they refer to Obama's voting record? Not necessarily. They could very well simply be using this [ the [ most Adj ] N ] construction in the very informal way it is often used in ordinary conversations, as in That was [ the [ most incredible ] experience ] I've ever had or That was [ the [ most interesting ] book ] I've read in years — it's hyperbole, a deliberate exaggeration, directed specifically at a receptive audience. So the claim doesn't have to be literally true; the speaker just needs to believe that it's close enough to the truth for the purposes of the conversation. In short, McCain may well just be saying something like: "I believe Obama is too liberal for people who, like me, self-identify as conservatives".

Or, of course, McCain and others may not be lying simply because they haven't done the tiny bit of research that it apparently takes to find out that there's been no relevant measure of "liberalness of Senate voting records" performed. (Deliberately not doing the research is a good way to repeat a potential lie without technically lying yourself.) Or he may just be expressing his own personal opinion based on his experience with and recollection of Obama's voting record and that of others in the Senate, in which case I would say that the phrase [ the [ most liberal ] voting record ] is inappropriately misleading.

Also outside by Mark Liberman

One of the things that marks Sarah Palin as a linguistic outsider is her use of also. In part, this is just a matter of frequency. In her contribution to last night's vice-presidential debate, she used the word also 48 times in about 7600 words, accounting for about 0.63% of her words. Her opponent, Joe Biden, used also only 3 times in about 7200 words. Relative to the rates seen in large and representative corpora, Gov. Palin used also about 5 to 10 times more often than expected, while Sen. Biden used also about 2 to 3 times less often than expected.

. . . .

But the most striking thing about Gov. Palin's affinity for this word is how she used it, not how often. 13 out of her 48 examples (27%) were sentence-final, at least as the CNN transcript marks sentence boundaries, e.g.

And I thank the commission, also.

And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.

...[more examples listed]...

OK, so that was all much more arcane than is probably of interest to anyone here, but I just thought it was mildly interesting. Completely irrelevant and meaningless perhaps, but interesting—mostly the stuff about how politicians might rationalize "lying" as, well, "not lying." Though again I suspect they're probably not that devious, not to that extent or on that level anyway.

Oh yeah, and it was as a result of that second LL piece here that I actually found the CNN transcript of the debate to which others have already referred. Yep, it's all circular.

Elizabeth said...

OK, Anon, now that my "Whaa...?!" reaction wore off, I see that your question for me was indeed serious. So here is my more serious response to it.

First, I think you miss the intended humor of some of my posts. Contrary to appearances, I'm not that serious all the time. Some of my comments are written with a tongue firmly in cheek. There is no emoticon for it other than the wink [;)], but I feel I'm overusing it as it is, so, in general, I try not to insert it after every humorous (or intended as such) sentence I write. It's also extremely possible that my attempts at humor are so lame that they completely miss their mark. What can I say, I'm doing my best.

Second, yes, I am "enthralled" with senator Biden (as well as all those who represent substance and integrity, and, perhaps most importantly, my values, in a public forum). Biden belongs here (so does, for example, Dennis Kucinich and others -- and I assure you I would be equally, if not indeed more, "enthralled" with their candidacy). I also include in this category many other individuals, among them (gasp!) the Pope and Mother Teresa, all of whom I like and/or admire and respect, or am "enthralled with." If you think my "hots" for Biden are worth remarking on, boy, you should see me responding to Kucinich. And Mother Teresa -- wawwaa weewaa!

Third, I appreciate the seriousness of your query, but can't help notice the condemnation implied in it as well. And, ahem, hormonally clouded? Ay. As tempted as I am to address this seriously, I think I'll leave it alone.

Hope it answers your question(s). But if not and you still want to understand why Joe Biden is "my man," I'll refer you to my post on "Not a Republican" written in response to Roger on that long SHAMblog thread counting 199 comments.

Instead of "Not a Republican," insert, in each paragraph, "Elizabeth loves Joe because..." (he stands for reproductive freedom, affordable and accessible to all healthcare, tax breaks for middle class, good educational standards and not the hypocritical and misguided "perform or perish" requirements of "No Child Left Behind," etc. etc.)

As if this was not enough, Biden possesses a rare quality among (male) politicians: he has a capacity to experience and express empathy, no small feat in my book of character assessment. Plus everything in his life story, as far as I know it, suggests that the man, though certainly not perfect, walks the walk, or tries to, in terms of living his values (instead of just talking about them). This itself is rare, in my experience.

Those are good reasons, IMO, to be "enthralled" with a candidate. Good looks don't hurt either, but I can promise you that if Biden was not representing "my" stance on the issues I've mentioned above and/or did not have my respect, he could look like Brad Pitt, or even George Clooney, and this voter's heart would be closed shut.

Sigh; last but not least, if that helps any, Joe Biden reminds me too much of my father to harbor any real "hots" for him. Though I would definitely go out for beer with him and maybe even a pizza. (And not that it's anyone business, but if I indeed had "hots" for someone, I would never advertise it publicly. You can take my word for it.)

Elizabeth said...

I don't think it's unreasonable to at least wonder (especially given some of the language used in his support) whether we're really basing our perception of Biden's "victory" on the right things.

Steve, is this directed at me specifically (it sounds so), or is this a generic "we" you are talking about here?

Sarsabu said...

A female Ned Flanders for your VP! I love it.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz, well, the initial question from Anon was directed at you, but now that I look back at my own characterizations of his winning, "handsome" smile--and the photo I chose for the post--I just wonder about the degree to which all of us (in this case, even hetero guys) get caught up in mystique and other periphera, rather than focusing on whether there's a there there.

Steve Salerno said...

DS: Thank you again, and I really mean that, also...

Elizabeth said...

Rev, one thing has been gnawing at me:

She's been dead wrong a few times, but never shallow.

Now this is just preposterous. I've never been dead, not even once, in my whole life.

RevRon's Rants said...

"I've never been dead, not even once, in my whole life."

The one time I try to defend the woman, she responds by trying to snag me with a koan (albeit an original one). Sheesh! :-)

Elizabeth said...

My man... (okay, okay, don't shoot...;), er, Joe Biden talks to Newsweek about Palin, the debate, the election and the moment when he choked up:

About that catch in his throat: in the moment, he "could picture Beau in the bed" after the 1972 car accident that killed Biden's first wife, Neilia, and their baby girl and critically injured his young sons. Now Beau, the 39-year-old attorney general of Delaware, was off to war, a judge advocate general traveling to obscure regions of Iraq, where the road isn't exactly the safest place to be. The memory of being a single parent mixed with worries about Beau to create "a lot of bundled emotions. It surprised me. I was hoping nobody noticed." Only 70 million or so did.

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