So it’s welcome, one and all, as we go head-to-head here tonight, with Senate heavyweight and Democrat candidate for the Vice-Presidency Joe Biden taking on self-styled ‘Joe Six-pack American’ and Republican VPILF Sarah Palin.
We’ve already witnessed a thrilling first bout in the 2008 series. Somewhere between the irritable accusations of John ‘McSame’ McCain and the conciliatory counterpunches of Barack ‘Osama’ Obama each camp claimed a victory.
In the eyes of this pundit at least it was McSame who came off worst. Looking more war-horse than war hero, he was ultimately driven to behave like a low-ranking monkey. Never a good look, for a man who would be king.
And now comes the turn of our candidates for the Vice-Presidency, in what is surely the most tantalising and eagerly anticipated encounter of the series so far.
In the blue corner, born in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1942, we have a man who became the fifth youngest senator in US history when he was elected to represent the state of Delaware in 1973. A long-time member and current chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, with 25 years of service to the US Senate under his belt, it’s Joseph “Joe” Biden!
And in the red corner, born in Sandpoint, Idaho in 1964, we find a woman whose rise through the ranks of Alaskan local government has earned her a reputation for strong-arm tactics and intimidation not just of her political opponents, but also the diminishing population of polar bears. Yup, it’s the hard-working ‘hockey mom’ from Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah “Caribou Barbie” Palin!
And it’s Palin everybody’s talking about in the build up to fight night, as she continues her seemingly implausible progress through the ranks of American party politics. Were she to make it within a 72-year-old’s heartbeat of the country’s highest office, surely this would be the greatest story ever told, and the ultimate triumph of the American Dream over the tedious trappings of reality, pragmatism and plain old common sense.
She’s certainly come out fighting. It was Palin who used a public appearance to stir up a war of words with Biden, seeming to suggest that the 65-year-old’s age might be an issue for his candidacy. “I’m the new energy”, she declared, drawing attention to the fact that while her opponent was passing throw-away legislation across the floor of the Senate, she was debating the ethics of moose-hunting at Wasilla High.
Small matter, it seems, that Palin’s own running mate is seven years Biden’s senior. Small matter, indeed, that the GOP ticket represents the most convincing evidence ‘palintologists’ have yet discovered that humans and dinosaurs ever peacefully co-existed on God’s earth. Meanwhile Palin herself pushes on, sensationally claiming that one of her best friends is gay, and that Vladimir Putin’s head can occasionally be seen from the shorelines of Alaska.
With Biden keeping his own counsel in the build up to fight night, all this talk from the Palin camp has left pundits (some of them staunch Republicans) openly questioning whether these two fighters even belong in the same ring.
Certainly, it’s hard to see how a political featherweight like Palin could ever get the better of a seasoned pro like Joe Biden. In this pundit’s opinion, however, Biden needs to be careful.
Palin’s might have her detractors among the educated liberal classes, but she’s been ‘awful busy’ winning over hearts and minds throughout the mindless heartlands of middle America, and is not without her sympathisers among the mainstream US electorate. Biden has to find some way to land enough telling blows, without ever being seen to strike the lady.
Palin, on the other hand, has nothing to lose. Expectations are so low, all she has to do last a few rounds, go the distance even, and she gives herself a fighting chance of claiming victory.
Fight fans, whatever happens, just remember this. It isn’t down to Fox News to tell you who won. We’re the judges here, not just some unwitting audience, herded towards somebody else’s conclusion.
Maybe, if we judge for ourselves, we’ll see that Palin’s candidacy is just a cynical sleight of hand, seeking the right person for the ticket, at the expense of getting the right person for the job.
Right now, that’s a billion dollar maybe.