Instant Analysis: The Debate As Altman Film

I was bounced out of the Crack Van several times before the hostilities commenced. The last time I landed in the virtual ditch that is Twitter, shrugged my shoulders and said, fuck it.

There were some complaints about the interruptions and cross-talk during the debate. Life is messy and when real people discuss heated issues they don’t wait for their time to expire, they interject to make their point. That’s why I used the Altman film analogy in the post title. Until Robert Altman came along overlapping dialogue in the movies was rare. Altman brought the messiness of real conversation to the movies. That’s what happened in the first two debates this year. I used to mock these event as “joint press appearances.” Tonight was more like a genuine debate than in past years. I approve even if the decorum police do not.

Here’s the thing that people forget about the next Vice President of the United States:

It’s true that Tim was a bit too amped at the beginning of the debate, but he settled in and scored a series of major points. He played offense, which is something Democrats used to steer clear of. I remember waiting for Michael Dukakis to level Poppy Bush but he played defense and was polite. He lost the battle and the war. Badly.

Most of Tim’s points were scored by throwing Trump’s words at Pence who shook his head and sorrow and denied his running mate had ever said such a thing by gosh. The fact checkers will have a ball with his lame denials and it will come back to bite the Republican ticket in the tuchus.

Pence is smooth and true to his talk radio roots. He spoke most of the time in a rather creepy late night DJ voice. He is a much better liar than Trump. He lies in a smooth, folksy, and semi-convincing voice. He even claimed that Trump was not pro-Putin, a claim that’s preposterous on its face. Kaine pantsed Pence on that point.

Kaine’s best line was when he said that Trump seems to have a personal Mount Rushmore of dictators. In that at least he’s a true Republican. The Reagan administration loved them some Latin American dictators. I think Ronnie sent General Pinochet a Valentine every year…

The funniest line of the evening was inadvertent comedy from the ordinarily humorless Mike Pence:

It got me laughing all over again, y’all. Well, you know what they say: laughter is the best Curiel. Don’t judge me on that pun. Actually, please do, it was a good one. Someone please explain it to Governor Pence…

I think both candidates accomplished what they set out to do. Kaine’s goal was to keep playing offense and Pence’s was to appeal to his base. That’s why the TP ticket is going to lose: they’re still trying to hold on to their base instead of reaching outside of the basket of deplorables.

Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire is an annoying bastard. The incessant head shaking, the sanctimony, the empty piety, and above all else the “avalanche” (his favorite word) of lies he told about himself and the Insult Comedian. It brings to mind Jon Stewart’s Bullshit Mountain. Hmm, maybe that’s where Trump’s Mount Rushmore of Dictators should be located.

One thing Pence and his master’s very loud voice have in common is projection. His frequent references to Hillary’s “campaign of insults” nearly drove me around the bend. Nobody insults people like Trump. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian. I wish more people did. One nickname I dislike is Drumpf. So, his family changed its name? Big fucking deal, so did mine. Take my nickname, please.

The major disappointment of the evening was the paucity of questions about social issues. I wanted to see Pence have to defend his ugly, homophobic views. This is a man who believes in conversion therapy, after all. When I’ve seen him questioned on the subject of gay rights, his affable mask slips and flicks of spittle gather at the corner of his mouth. I wanted to see him froth, drool and choke on his own bile.

In the end, this debate will have a limited impact on the race. Both sides will claim victory and the Veep candidates will return to the rubber chicken circuit. I thought Tim Kaine cleaned Pence’s clock BUT I’m biased. I know that Nervous Nellie Democrats will engage in some hand wringing and pearl clutching over Tim’s aggressiveness but as I said on the Tweeter Tube:

Back to the Altman film analogy. Tonight’s debate was not major Altman: it was no Nashville or McCabe & Mrs. Miller. It was neither a major disaster like Popeye nor a polite period piece like Gosford Park. It was solid Altman like California Split or Cookie’s Fortune even if Pence wanted it to be as folksy as A Prairie Home Companion. In the end, there was less blood than M*A*S*H.

5 thoughts on “Instant Analysis: The Debate As Altman Film

  1. Really, really strange analysis this morning in the popular political media. For the first time that I can remember, interrupting and talking over someone else has been deemed a Bad Thing To Do. Is this a new courteousness a-borning, or a one-off? Perhaps we’ll see after the next debate.

  2. “Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire”

    Bwahahaha. Perfect.

    About Drumpf. When John Oliver was making that a thing, it arose out of the Dumpsterfire himself dragging on somebody (Jon Stewart?) for having a name altered from the original Irish or whatever it was. Wasn’t he proud of his name? the tRump said. That, I gather, is the reason it’s fun to badger him with his own aren’t-you-proud-of-your-name problems.

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