Friday, October 15, 2010


I've mostly avoided watching video of the Harry Reid/Sharron Angle debate -- I knew that Jon Ralston, Dean Of The Nevada Press Corps, said that Reid lost the debate, but I wanted to watch evidence of that about as much as I wanted to have a root canal. Then I took the plunge and watched what I now realize is the likely death knell of Reid's campaign: the rapidly-becoming-viral "man up" clip:

Angle's voice is quavery and she seems loopy, but Reid seems to embody every disengaged Spock stereotype Maureen Dowd has ever thrown at Barack Obama, at a moment when Obama seems to have shaken off his torpor. There's something primal and high-schoolish about this, in an awful way: whoever's advising Angle fed her a wickedly brilliant soundbite, this decade's preferred euphemism for "Don't be a faggot" (a generation ago, she would have used some word beginning with a w -- weak, wimp, wuss), and even though her use of it seemed forced, and seemed at first to be apropos of nothing, she comes off as both the feisty tabloid granny who defends herself against a street thug and a high school girl (Angle always seems to have a bit of that in her) demanding that Reid not let the bully of the beach kick sand in his face.

And Reid was just the high school nerd, focused on minutiae (he even used the word "actuarial" in the answer to which Angle was replying, which was about Social Security).

I know, I know --we live in a pathetic country that's more concerned about crap like this than about ideas or policy positions. But Harry Reid has been living in this country long enough to have known that Angle is touching nerves in a primal way and he needed to find some way to do the same, or at least neutralize her ability to do so. Even when he was talking about fighting Social Security privatization, Reid sounded bloodless -- and why the hell wouldn't he even name the president he opposed in that case?

On some level, voters aren't just being simple-minded in this case -- they want to believe a politician will fight for them, though they judge that in absurdly visceral ways much of the time. But that's the way it is, and Harry Reid doesn't seem to understand. And now this phrase will haunt him to the end of his career, which will be in a matter of months.

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