Next stunt, please!

A mostly political Weblog.
Oct. 11 2008 8:38 PM

Next Stunt, Please!

Plus--Can I vote for McGovern?

(Continued from Page 13)

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"Is Obama really that good a speaker?" Daniel Finkelstein's valued overseas perspective:

I find that too often he can be an empty, rather woolly speaker. Someone who likes the sound of his own voice a bit much.

1:47 P.M.

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Did They Blow the Fit? Honda's new Fit is positioned to be the perfect vehicle for the times--tiny, sporty, roomy,  very economical. The 2007 version was all those things (see Seth Stevensons's rave) but also a little ugly. All Honda had to do was correct its few flaws--make it slightly larger, smoother riding and prettier--and they'd have the ideal $4/gallon car. The 2009 version is, according to previews, slightly larger, smoother riding, and prettier. How could they screw up a car by correcting its flaws?

Happens all the time. Making cars slightly larger and more refined seems especially to bring out the Brezhnev in auto engineering bureaucracies. ( See, e.g., VW 412,   Volvo 144S,   Mazda 3.) ... So has Honda screwed up the Fit? Car and Driver's posted a debate on the subject.My reading: Yes, they have. The new Fit has 10 cup holders, but the steering "has lost on-center feel." Nothing is as important as "on-center feel"! And CD's colloquy includes several cues (e.g., "This is a great car for people who are coming from larger vehicles") that experienced readers will recognize as secret distress codes. ... Used Fits are starting to look less ugly already. ... 3:07 A.M. link

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Tight Like That: The New York Times reports on the tighter format of the vice-presidential debate:

At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive [E.A.]

But would a looser format really disadvantage Palin in the encounter? 1) She seems like a scrapper who can handle herself in a "free-wheeling" exchange; 2) Biden, on the other hand, isn't someone you want to liberate. Set him free and who knows what he'll say. He's already way too free-wheeling. He needs limits, no? The tighter format will force him to focus; 3) Point #2 is doubly relevant given the difficulties Biden will have facing off against a woman. He's not supposed to condescend. He's not supposed to bully. (He's not supposed to be Biden, in other words.) Set him loose in an open format and it's a near certainty he would get the tone wrong, maybe even get carried away and go all Lazio on her.

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