Defining the Debate
One of the big problems we progressives have had for quite a long time now is that we let the opposition get away with defining the boundaries of each debate. Take the current experience debate, and its current boundaries. With the Palin pick, Democrats said that the 'experience' issue was off the table. This has led the Republicans to argue that Palin is actually as experienced or more so than Obama and the debate is off. The terms of the debate, however, are years in public office, time and range of executive responsibilities and so on. What I pointed out in my previous post is that these issues are not the best ground for us to fight on, rather we should argue that Obama has the experience and has gone through an intense vetting process, which Palin has not. That point seems oddly missing from the debate. And the reason it is missing, it seems to me, is only because the Republicans have not brought it up. But of course they're not going to bring it up. We need to make it part of our rebuttal.
Now I agree that on a pure debate of national issue experience Obama will win. But we will do better to argue on easy ground rather than on more difficult ground. To understand what I'm gettig at follow me for a moment on a bit of a degression. We'll get back to the election soon enough.
If, on a clear day, you look up into the daylight sky you will see a uniform field of blue (we'll look away from the Sun for now). If, on a clear night, however, you look up, you will see bright points of light here and there, against a black background, stars and the night sky right. But if you think about this for a minute, this might seem odd. After all, when you are looking up in daylight the stars are still there. In the daylight sky there should be bright points of light, pluss the blue background here and there and just the blue backgrouhd in between, so the stars should be visible day and night, right? But that's the thing, it is very hard to distinguish a small difference between large values. In the day, the blue background is very much brighter than the stars. The small difference between star + blue sky and blue sky alone is generally impossible for the human eye to tell. The equally small difference between the star and no background, however, is easily distinguished. The general problem of small differences between large values is an issue in the design of much scientific equiptment.
Ok, now back to the election. For most of your neighbors the foreign policy experience of any of the candidates is a lot more than what your neighbor has. Thus the difference among the candidates becomes a small difference between large values and we could spend hours trying to persuade one undecided voter that Obama really comes out on top. On the other hand, to argue that Obama and Biden have been thouroughly vetted by the American people over their careers and the campaigning they've done, versus the complete lack of vetting of Sarah Palin is a difference that is easy to see.