The Stupid Debate Meme

Everyone seems to be wondering how exactly you debate a girl, and fretting that Biden isn’t going to be able to attack Palin lest he look like a big mean bully attacking the cute young woman. Isn’t this a little bit disconnected, if we’re going to operate under labored gender stereotypes? I mean, doesn’t the sterotypical professional woman want to be treated just like the boys? Anyway, I think it deserves to be said that Noam Scheiber’s wife appears to be the smartest person in the world today.

My wife had a good solution to the debate problem this morning: Biden should spend most of his time focusing on McCain and engage Palin as little as possible. Though you don’t want to completely ignore her–that could also be perceived as a slight.

Respond to Palin, attack McCain. Get that woman a spot writing for The New Republic or something.

Also, I want to address, quickly, the Lazio-Clinton example, because I think it’s deeply flawed. If you’re not familiar, Rick Lazio sort of famously went after Hillary Clinton in one of their 2000 Senate debates, and it’s CW that his aggressiveness created a feminine backlash for Hillary, and that’s where this “you have to go easy on the girl” meme largely comes from (I’ll dig up a link when I find it). The problem is to say that Lazio “attacked” Hillary isn’t quite accurate. He didn’t press her hard on issues, or attack her qualifications, or bring up Whitewater or some other scandal, or accuse her of carpetbagging, or anything remotely substantive like that. Instead, he literally walked over to her podium, waved one of those policy pledges in her face, and demanded she sign it right then and there. It was extremely uncomfortable, undiginified, and just didn’t look like something a Senator does. In hindsight, I think it would have had more or less the same effect had Hillary been a man, and gender was largely something the media affixed to it afterwards. The fact that Lazio looked juvenile and unhinged was damaging enough.