Thursday’s VP debate was understandably the centerpiece of last week’s rightblogger action. But they must have seen how that was going, and decided that they couldn’t afford to let everything ride on that one, gosh-darned big roll. So they did a little debate prep of their own, portraying moderator Gwen Ifill as a Democratic co-conspirator. And when the bailout drama in Washington swung both ways — making it hard for rightbloggers to pick a side of that debate — they suggested new culprits on which the mess could all be blamed: Jimmy Carter, blacks and gays.
Early tremors of the Ifill imbroglio were picked up right here at Runnin’ Scared, in late comments to an old Ifill item. That September 5 post was about conservative complaints that Ifill’s face had appeared unenthusiastic about Palin at the Republican Convention — a previously undiscovered, physiognomical form of media bias. But the new commenters were on a different track.
“Ifill went from the NEW YORK TIME to NBC to PBS WITH JIM LEHRER,” said one, “And she just wrote a book about OBAMA. Why would there be suspicion of bias?” (Also: “AFFIRMATIVE ACTION POSTER CHILD,” “reminds me of King Kong,” “giant monkey nose,” etc.)
Elsewhere rightbloggers focused on the fact that Ifill has a book coming out about the success of black politicians in America, which centers, quite understandably, on the ground-breaking Democratic nominee for President. “Moderators should not have a financial stake in the election,” said Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey — which, given the riches amassed by most debate moderators at this level, is hilarious.
“I think it goes without saying that Senator McCain took Barack Obama to school last week in the first Presidential debate,” RedState asserted — though that debate had been moderated by RedState bete noir Jim Lehrer — and claimed “the impossibility of a fair debate tomorrow night,” which preemptively proved that “when Governor Palin shows Joe Biden for the bumbling oaf that he is, not only will the Governor win the debate, but she will have done so against the odds…”
Wizbang proclaimed, “Journalism is dead,” and was also enraged that, at the Republican Convention, Ifill had talked “over the Star Spangled Banner being sung in the background.”
When even McCain said he didn’t see what the big deal about Ifill was, Michelle Malkin called him “clueless.”
We can only imagine what previous debate panelists Fred Barnes, James Wieghart, Morton Kondracke, Brit Hume, Andrea Mitchell, et alia thought of this. But the debate happened, and after the winkin’ and g-droppin’ was over, even unsympathetic mainstream news outlets and polling organizations gave the nod to Joe Biden.
Rightbloggers, you may have already guessed, saw it another way.
“SARAH ROCKS!” roared Michelle Malkin. “I didn’t care for all the ‘greed’ rhetoric, but I understand they are trying to appeal to independents and Dems… Sarah Palin looked presidential. Joe Biden looked tired. Sarah made history. Biden is history.”
The Wall Street Journal‘s James Taranto watched the debate on split-screen, the better to study Biden’s allegedly (though apparently unsuccessfully) botoxed face, and found details which most viewers — whether because they had not that option, or because they are not rightwing factota like James Taranto — did not notice: “His voice cracked a bit… we thought he actually might start to cry… The mere fact of Palin’s sex seems to have put Biden on the defensive.”
Liveblogging Ann Althouse said “Palin looks like she’s brimming with ideas she’s just waiting to express.” She also rushed to publish the Drudge poll, one of the few (and completely predictable) outliers for Palin. When that got washed away with the tide, Althouse defended National Review‘s Rich Lowry’s bizarrely sexualized response to Palin (“I’m sure I’m not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, ‘Hey, I think she just winked at me'”) by attacking Andrew Sullivan for noticing: Lowry’s comment, she said, was “certainly no sillier than Sullivan’s endless murmuring over Obama’s attractiveness.” (Pay close attention: this gay-love angle will come up later.)
National Review admitted that Palin dodged the questions evil Ifill asked of her — “and good for her.” More importantly, they said, Palin “performed with poise and charm,” perhaps mistaking the debate for the talent part of the competition. (To be fair, she really was a pretty good amateur flautist.)
When that all went for nothing, rightbloggers availed new memes relating to the financial crisis. As we saw earlier, the tergiversations of Republicans on the bailout bit flummoxed rightbloggers, leaving them with no clear pro or anti position to take. So some of them dug into the distant past and blamed Jimmy Carter’s Reinvestment Act. The unnecessarily named Not PC said the Act “and ‘community organisers’ like Barack Obama… pushed indigent non-payers into sub-prime ‘first-home,’ ‘easy credit,’ ‘low-doc’ loans…” though that is clearly not the case — nor does it explain the extreme willingness of big banks to credit these allegedly worthless loans on their balance sheets and reap profits for them (but then, in this era of victimhood, even billionaires must have scapegoats). No matter: rightwing operatives still blamed the bailout on “minorities” empowered by the Act, in which they were swiftly seconded by even fringier characters with an even stronger interest in race conflict.
Perhaps excited by the culture-war component, other rightbloggers pounced on the former relationship of House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank with a male Fannie Mae officer — the alleged, ancient impropriety exciting them less than the same-sex angle. “PART OF WHY THE USA GOT IT UP THE YOU KNOW WHAT,” bellowed The Astute Bloggers. “HOMO BARNEY FRANK WAS SLEEPING WITH MALE FANNIE MAE EXEC FOR YEARS.” Eleanor Duckwall asked, “Another Sex Scandal Looming?” — though Frank’s extinguished relationship had been covered in the Wall Street Journal as far back as 1992. Homosexual conservative Gay Patriot did his part by asking if Big Media “assume that our relationships do not subject us to the same conflicts of interest as would straight ones” — without also asking what relevance that earlier bailout had to the multiple Wall Street failures that could not even remotely be blamed on same-sex couples.
But never mind these obvious and ridiculous subterfuges — did you know Obama once served on a board with a former Weatherman? If not, or even if so, you’ll be hearing it again and again and again and again — and probably, via this feeder stream, in Tuesday’s Presidential debate. Why not? It’s not as if anything were beneath their dignity, especially now. Since neither the issues nor the polls favor the Republicans, they’ll scoop up whatever detritus the rightbloggers offer them. We have entered the phase of the campaign where anything goes, and if the rightbloggers have any specialty, it’s the bottom of the barrel.