Caribbean: From the Debate to a Circus?

There's a popular saying that when America sneezes, the Caribbean catches the cold. Regional bloggers, like bloggers the world over, understand that the outcome of the upcoming US Presidential election will have an impact on their future – so a few of them have been carefully monitoring developments and voicing their opinions – and no event has elicited as much outcry as the Vice Presidential Debate.

Barbadian diaspora blogger Doan Mind Me uses humour (and a touch of local parlance) to downplay his concerns:

The potential vice-president of the United States of America did not just get up in a televised debate and give a “shout out” to somebody. Ya lie! I mean I already knew she was sorta ghetto, what given the chile names and the pregnant teenager but still she like she was trying to prove her bona fides last night.

Look there is a time and place for everything. A live nationally televised debate was not the place to give shout outs. It tells me your vocabulary is limited or you don't have the sense to know when to use certain types of language. Leave that sorta talk to the fellas on ESPN and Sportsnet and people like me dat duz blog.

The glaring double standard is also not lost on him:

How it would look if Obama was giving a presentation and say yea I wanta thank my boy O-G Joe Biden for hooking me up with these figures and Michelle for the slamming PowerPoint slides. Everybody would be looking at the man like he gone off or something. Plus you would hear how he inarticulate and he ghetto and he sound like a rapper and all sort of stuff so. But let Palin do that and suddenly she folksy and cute and represent the everyday Joe sixpack.

Get the bleep outta here!

Living in Barbados has a similar take on the situation:

It was a fascinating contrast on display. In the past weeks we had been led to believe that Governor Palin was “gaffable”; an almost total “ditz”–not too smart; more than a bit folksy in her spoken manner (saying “Darnit” a lot); trying to sound ordinary by talking about “Joe Six Pack”, and hockey moms; out of her depth on any of the serious issues that we expect to hear top politicians talk on about. But, she had shown that she could learn a script, though unfortunately could not do more than recite the words (“She's a nauseating puppet”, my wife said in her text message from St. Kitts last night), and sometimes not in the right order. What was she saying by the repetition of the “all of the above” approach? Was this something on the brief that she needed to read to find out that there were some substantive arguments to make? Did she under that she asked for widening the constitutional role of the vice president? Maybe her wink at the camera was an ominous warning.

Ah, the wink. A ploy that did not sit well with Jdid:

Oh and what was with the winking? Looka me an she ain't nuh friends, we ain't share no inside joke, so either she got an involuntary tick in she eye or she was trying to get fresh wid me pun tv. And she coulda at least wink at muh when the wife wasn't sitting next to me.

Tongue in cheek, Living in Barbados says “you have to admire the single-mindedness of Gov. Palin”…

No matter what the question, she turned it back to her answers, and the two pillars of almost all her replies were “energy” and “tax reductions”. Ms. Ifill asked about a bankruptcy bill; Gov. Palin gave a cursory reply then came back with “I think that this is important to come back to, with that energy policy plan…” She spoke with energy, on energy issues, on energy plans, on renewable energy, about energy-producing states, about energy independence, and on and on. But there was very little substance to the answers.

…but he seems genuinely impressed by how Senator Biden handled the debate:

I admired Sen. Biden for not blinking doe-like in the same fashion as Katie Couric, but it was a hard thing not to do. Staying with the reported strategy, he did not focus much on Gov. Palin, but on the Bush-McCain nexus, including a nicely aimed kick at Vice President Cheney, whom he said “has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history”.

He surmises:

What I saw also were clear attempts to connect to ordinary people. These two candidates are really reluctant heroes in not choosing to run for the highest offices, but were plucked onto the wagon to give each side something that was missing and would hopefully seal enough votes for the presidential candidates. Sen. Palin has her simple family story and told it often. Gov. Biden too has a simple family story, even though he now has a better life than with which he began.

For Living in Barbados, there was one defining moment of the entire debate:

When he (Biden) choked on recalling these difficulties of his own life, it was notable that Gov. Palin did not offer a word of common sympathy or acknowledgment, but came back with: “People aren't looking for more of the same. They are looking for change. And John McCain has been the consummate maverick in the Senate over all these years.” That for me was more telling than the rest of the debate. Gov. Palin had been too coached to respond to anything that was being said to her and her pat answer says volumes about what is really at work.

Jdid chimes in:

Oh and just because.
maverick, maverick maverick maverick, maverick.
Sorry just had to get that out my system.

As if the debate itself weren't enough fodder for bloggers, Sarah Palin went and attacked Barack Obama over William Ayers. Trinidad and Tobago diaspora blogger Mocha Soul Child has this to say:

After her stunning victory of a mediocre performance at the debates, Palin launched another attack at the Obama camp. It was clear from the debate that Palin does not support negotiations with “terrorist states” without preconditions.

If, she had followed that line of reason, I would be inclined to say she had a real debatable question in her hot little hands.

But instead of taking the high road, she lays it in the gutter, casting doubt on his patriotism, instead of debating the issues. The fundamental statement the McCain-Palin ticket seem to be making is “He's not one of us.” Why else would you attack Obama's patriotism and his Americanness, when there are plenty of real issues they could address such as the value of meeting with enemy nations without preconditions?

Why attack Obama on his patriotism, when it would be so much more salient to question him on foreign policy? It tinges on the the verge of something far nastier, something no one who supports senator Obama can even acknowledge for fear of alienating white voters, but is there, just as the blatant sexism in this race to the white house.


  • sham debate

    John McCain is used to force the election of Barack Obama.
    Barack Obama forced you to pay for Wall Street’s bailout.

    Stop the extortion, blackmail, bribery, and division;
    Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, and Cynthia McKinney.

    “The two parties should be
    almost identical, so that
    the American people can
    ‘throw the rascals out’
    at any election without
    leading to any profound or
    extensive shifts in policy.”
    – Carol Quigley

  • What a fantastic post! I have to say, I really love the local parlance :)

  • Janine Mendes-Franco

    Thanks, Jillian. :O)

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