Don’t Wink At Me, Ever

This was the slogan on a protest sign as Sarah Palin arrived to a fund-rasier this morning, a reference to her sly gesture last night during the debate. Someone didn’t like it that the popular kid was still popular. Neither did the all-Obama crowd watching at the Temple club last night in San Francisco’s SOMA district. Sitting on the floor, wearing earplugs to dampen CNN’s booming voice and the louder roar of the crowd, I felt like I was cheering in all the wrong places. While everyone else was screaming blood for victory, I was admiring my enemy

Let me tell you about the Democrats’ superior economic policy. Let me offer you a history lesson about sparring Muslim sects. Let’s talk about the ideal character of a judicial nominee. No– wait. I apologize. I’m sorry. You don’t talk that way on a date. I’m a geek, an academic, a weirdo elitist intellectual. I’m attending a talk on green energy policy tonight; I sit at the front of classrooms and try to learn foreign languages, just like my man Obama. We sit at the same lonely table at the cafeteria. I bet he hides his despair at the idiots around him better than I ever did.

Biden tried to make sense. He radiated competence and experience. He talked to his peers. The voters are not his peers. They never studied law, they’ve never left the country. Palin said “soccer mom” and the Temple crowd booed. This crowd of young, educated, liberal, relatively affluenct West-Coast voters — my peers — they raged at the cheap shots. Me, I nodded in silent assent. Good move, Sarah. She’s the annoying and pretty girl who answers all the questions right in Soc. class. You know she’ll go far.

“John McCain is the man we need to leave…I mean lead,” she said, and the rest of the class erupted into hoots, throwing spitwads. Are we in this just to make ourselves feel better?

Because this was not a debate, this was sales. This was not aimed at those who take public policy seriously. This was aimed at the 25 year-old girl who works in retail all day before collapsing into her couch to watch American Idol with her boyfriend. This was for the working stiff who’s just too tired to peruse the dismal headlines at the end of the day, and goes straight to the sports section. Palin winked at the housewife whose husband works for the pharaceutical industry. I’ve been calling voters, and I know: we in San Francisco are the geeks. We’re the outcasts. What we think of the debates is irrelevant.

All it’s going to take for the Republicans to win the election is one good cheap shot on October 30th. Obama’s lead is deadly slim, when you actually read the error bars, and impossible though it may seem, something like a fifth of voters still haven’t made up their minds. This is why I don’t care to encourage Obama; I want to know my adversaries. I want to celebrate the honest talent of that girl with the perky smile who you just know is going to end up doing public relations — welcoming attractive and connected people to all the best parties — while the rest of us well-intentioned technocrats work the grey cubicles for one more generation.

[ if you’d like to talk to real voters yourself, please join me in phone banking this Sunday. ]