Madame La Noonan has returned from the land of the recently departed…
…and her crystal ball is a bit foggy.
That was some debate, the best so far of the political year. Each man was up to the battle. Each revealed what he thinks, how he operates, where he stands.
Norm Coleman won. But Fritz Mondale showed there’s life in the old boy yet.
I wouldn’t have bet that Mr. Coleman would emerge the victor. The narrative of a grand old man taking up the standard of a fallen local hero and waging forth valiantly in spite of age seemed to me the kind of thing most politicians wouldn’t be able to knock down or change.
But Mr. Coleman read the psychological landscape astutely. He knew he had to be both respectful and firm. He understood that Mr. Mondale’s prime aim in the debate was to demonstrate that he still has it–he may be from another time but he’s feisty and all there and ready to stand firm for Minnesota in Washington. Mr. Coleman seems to have known that Mr. Mondale would attempt to show strength by adopting a piercing and pugilistic style. Mr. Mondale did. Mr. Coleman came back with earnestness and a calm desire to find “common ground.” It was the kind of calm and earnest demeanor you use when you’re talking to the cranky old guy in the diner who likes to patronize young people.
Considering Peggy’s father fixation on the Ronsicle (speaking of whom, I expected Ron to have sauntered off this mortal coil before the election if only Karl Rove could just get near him with a pillow, thereby igniting a media Reagasm, and a spectacular Noonan breakdown on camera. I guess scrappy little Nancy guards the Kings Chambers better than we thought she could.) you would think that Noonan would have been humping Mondale’s leg while moaning “Momma loves her elder-statesmen…” , after the debate. But no, she decided to swoon and pitch woo at the young virile Norm:
Mr. Mondale adopted the language of us vs. them. He used the language not of the Democratic Party of his era but of the Democratic Party of today. He name-called. Mr. Coleman is “right wing,” he runs with “the right-to-life crowd,” he is “an arbitrary right-to-lifer.”
Mr. Coleman didn’t insult Mr. Mondale in turn, but he came back strong, challenging Mr. Mondale’s characterization of his stand. He had lost two children early in their lives, and there is “nothing arbitrary” about his support for life. But he called too for “common ground,” especially in the area of parental consent for minors’ abortions.
Mr. Coleman seemed moderate and sober. Mr. Mondale seemed sarcastic. He literally began to point his finger at Mr. Coleman as he made his points. Mr. Coleman didn’t take the bait, and sat with his hands clasped on the table. Mr. Coleman used Mr. Mondale’s aggression against him, suggesting it was a problem: “We have to change the tone.”
Based upon Peggy’s words it would seem that Mondale, who is leading in the polls, did just what she said he needed to do. To quote from above:
Mr. Mondale’s prime aim in the debate was to demonstrate that he still has it–he may be from another time but he’s feisty and all there and ready to stand firm for Minnesota in Washington. Mr. Coleman seems to have known that Mr. Mondale would attempt to show strength by adopting a piercing and pugilistic style. Mr. Mondale did
That being the case, it looks like Coleman tried to play rope-a-dope with Mondale, but that style of fighting only succeeds if you come out fighting by the end and land a knockout punch. Coleman failed to do that. Instead he played punching bag to Mondale’s thrusts, responding with Bush-like platitudes repeated over and over. His miscalculation was that the public would accept yet another callow empty-suit like Bush, when evidence has shown that one is more than enough.
Peggy ends with:
I think Mr. Coleman won the election this morning. I think he solidified his rising numbers, and picked up some undecided voters. And I think that considering what has happened in Minnesota the past few weeks that is one amazing story
I think Coleman tried to paint himself as a moderate who disagreed with Bush on certain topics, while dismissing the fact that the people of Minnesota remember that he was handpicked by Bush. He’s Bush’s boy and Wellstone was pulling away based on that. I don’t think this one debate changed that perception.
I guess we’ll see.