Politicians and the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations
To the extent that these faux debates are a measure of competence to hold the office in question, Sharron Reid's holding her own against the veteran incumbent demonstrated that she was up to the task. Or, at least, as up to it as Reid.
Kevin Drum, reacting to press accounts crediting Sharron Angle with holding her own in last night’s wretched debate with Harry Reid, observes:
So I guess that’s where we are. Freakish candidates are now held to such low standards that all they have to do is surprise us by not sounding like they belong in a locked mental ward. Welcome to 2010.
While I think he’s right in general, he’s probably wrong on the particular. The point seems to be, not that Angle wasn’t as awful as everyone figured she’d be but that she was every bit as good — or, should I say, every bit as bad — as Harry Reid. Reid has been in the Senate 23 years and the leader of the Senate Democrats since 2005. So, to the extent that these faux debates are a measure of competence to hold the office in question, holding her own against the veteran incumbent demonstrated that she was up to the task. Or, at least, as up to it as Reid.
Now, I happen to think these scripted exchanges of talking points with an interlocutor from the press are mostly worthless. Indeed, I’m not sure that even Oxford or Lincoln-Douglas style debates tell you much about competence to perform in a given political office. Those, at least, test intellect, the ability to think on one’s feet, and temperament. But the skill sets are still only tangentially related to the day-to-day task of governing.