14 September 2008

Sarah Palin: Hockey Goon; or, How Obama can avoid a trip to the penalty box

Sarah Palin worries me. She worries me because she’s a bible-thumping crazy who, if she attains power, will quite possibly take the world down in flames. She also worries me because, despite being a loud ignoramus, she’s been remarkably effective in drawing attention to herself and slandering Obama and Biden.

The hockey fan in me will now draw your attention to a new article on FiveThirtyEight.com explaining why she’s successful, not despite being a loud ignoramus, but because of it. You see, she’s not a hockey mom, she’s a hockey player: a 4th line agitator, a pest, a cheap-shot goon. And as agitators before her (eg, Sean Avery) have shown, she can be effective:

Watching Sarah Palin this week, and the reaction to her by both sides, and all the talk of hockey mommery, I realized that this is who she is. She skates into the corner, throws up an elbow, and the Democrats cry: "Foul!" Hey! She said Obama has never passed a major bill – this is an objective lie! Hey! She ridiculed community organizing the day after Service was the theme! Technically people should punish her by not voting for her over this infraction!

It’s whining, and whiners hit back second and go to the penalty box on top of it.

That’s right: the American public is like a hockey referee who hasn’t wised-up to the agitator’s antics. Palin can lie and slander all she wants; as long as she’s the agitator, any counterattack by Obama and Biden will come out looking bad.

In the old NHL, the way to handle a player like that would be to either send your goon out to pummel him into a fine paste or to do a nice two-handed ankle-breaking slash. Unfortunately, these options are no longer allowed - neither in the NHL nor in American politics.

The current solution in both venues is much trickier: you have to ignore them. Be it a punch to the head after the whistle or a blatant mischaracterization of your political history, you have to not respond to what they are doing and continue with your goals. Retaliate on the scoreboard, not on the ice.

For Obama and Biden, this means not giving the media a juicy retaliatory soundbites. The Dems have to keep on pushing their talking points and policies and avoid Palin’s distractions. They have to ensure the media presents them as all business while Palin is portrayed as a whiney hag. If they don’t, they’ll look haggier than the hag, and we’re all screwed.

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Note: This actually ties-in pretty well with the debates between creationists and evolutionists (I hate using this term; it should say 'rational people'). On talk.origins you’ll often find mentions of the Gish Gallop, a "format of most debates where the creationist is allowed to run on for 45 minutes or an hour, spewing forth torrents of error that the evolutionist hasn't a prayer of refuting in the format of a debate." The solution is the same: don’t bother defending yourself. Stick to what you’re there to debate and take down your opponent on your terms, not his.

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