In an earlier post, I looked at the relative absence of sarcasm in Sarah Palin's attacks on Barack Obama and Democrats in her acceptance speech.
At 42 minutes, Obama's acceptance speech was only about 6 minutes longer than Palin's. In Obama's speech, there were only three statements that were probably sarcastic:
These three assertions should probably be viewed as sarcastic because when he says "The market will fix it," he actually believes the opposite. The same applies to his statements about bootstraps and "Tough Luck." (However, these three statements might be viewed as not sarcastic because, though he is speaking sarcastically, these comments are part of a larger argument about the views prevalent in (Republican) Washington.)
In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is — you're on your own.
Out of work? Tough luck.
No health care? The market will fix it.
Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps — even if you don't have boots.
Like Palin, Obama generally prefers to attack without using sarcasm. Also like Palin, Obama sometimes uses hyperbole to characterize his opponents' views.
Here are the other passages in which Obama attacks McCain, Republicans, or Republican administrations:
If one compares Palin's speech to Obama's, it appears to me that they used similar amounts of sarcasm (not much), but Obama made considerably more extensive negative comments about McCain and Republican administrations than Palin did about Obama and Democrats. Palin's negative comments, however, were on balance funnier, better written, and more pointed than Obama's. Neither candidate's comments were entirely fair in every characterization of their opponents' positions.
1. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell — but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.
2. I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine.
3. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."
4. John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Sen. McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a 10 percent chance on change.
5. For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy — give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else.
6. America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this. . . . We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.
7. The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives — on health care and education and the economy — Sen. McCain has been anything but independent.
8. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this president.
He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong.
And when one of his chief advisers — the man who wrote his economic plan — was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."
A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud autoworkers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners.
9. Now, I don't believe that Sen. McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle class as someone making under 5 million dollars a year?
10. How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100 million Americans?
How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?
11. It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.
12. Well, it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America.
13. Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach. These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.
14. Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it. Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.
15. Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years, and John McCain has been there for 26 of them. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels.
16. And just as we keep our keep our promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America's promise abroad. If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next commander in chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.
17. For while Sen. McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights.
18. And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush administration, even after we learned that Iraq has a $79 billion surplus while we're wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war. That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a president who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.
19. John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice — but it is not the change we need.
20. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans — Democrats and Republicans — have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.
21. So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.
By continuing to spread false memes about the nature of Sarah Palin's speech as if they were true, the press marches forward in the most biased season of political reporting I've seen since at least 1998.