Vice Presidential Debate

Thoughts on the VP debate?


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  2. Much better than the Presidential Debates. Both were really impressive in their delivery and content. Originally, based on her interviews with Couric, I was worried for Palin tonight. And opposite her, Biden had his slip this week when he spoke to Couric about Roosevelt going on TV in 1929.

    Yet, I think tonight proved that these people are blithering idiots. They're people who slip up occasionally and get nervous at times. They both had some really good answers.

    Whether or not who won? I think Biden came off as less coached. That's not to say Palin did a bad job, but she was very unvaried in the delivery of her statements/rebuttals. She always smiled and looked straight into the camera. On the otherhand, you have Joe Biden who had a number of levels and emotions that were expressed throughout the debate. Basically, those who were watching got to see him get a little more personal, especially when he was speaking of his deceased wife and daughter.

    So all in all, it was a far better debate than the Presidential Debate last friday. Better delivery. Less studders. Better content. More information.

    Hopefully Tuesday's follow-up Presidential debate will be just as good, if not better than tonight's.

  3. Watching the debate tonight I learned more about myself than I did the candidates for vice president. I learned, for instance, that I am incapable of schadenfreude. (Do I need to say that "schadenfreude" is pleasure derived from another person's misfortune.) I squirmed tonight in those moments when Palin seemed incapable of addressing Gwen Ifill's questions head-on. All candidates pivot from the moderator's stated question to lay out related (or semi-related) policy positions, or an attack on the opponent. But in the first half of the debate Palin seemed to be running through a script of answers, even if they had nothing to do with Ifill's questions. My friend Matt, a football fan, compared it to the Denver Broncos offense. The Broncos know the fifteen plays they're going to run no matter what the situation is on the field. Palin seemed to get away from the playbook in the second half of the debate, relying instead on velocity. That seemed to work even less well. (More on Palin later.)

    Biden did a good job, I thought. I'm a pretty big fan of Biden. I read his autobiography in early spring when I was trying to decide which candidate to support. (Richardson and Obama were in my top three. I also had a secret crush on Mike Huckabee.) Biden comes from a working class family. He is a man of deep faith. He kept his family together after the tragic death of his wife when he was 29 years old and just entering the Senate. He commutes every day on Amtrak between Washington and his home in Delaware. He ranks 99th in the Senate in net worth. (Roll Call recently released its estimates of the 50 richest members of Congress. John Kerry was number one. John McCain was number 13, but this didn't include the assets that are in his wife's and children's names. Obama didn't make the list.) Biden is also refreshingly candid, an all too rare trait among politicians. This trait, however, can (and has) led to embarrassing gaffes. I was concerned, right up to the very end, that Biden would say something that could be portrayed as sexist or overly aggressive. My fears were unrealized, thank goodness.

    The bar was set so low for Sarah Palin that it will be difficult for anyone to say that she didn't exceed expectations tonight. She certainly exceeded mine. She blames the mainstream media for asking "gotcha" questions that make her look unprepared and unengaged. (I think those are sometimes also called "follow-up questions.") She didn't have to answer those follow-up questions tonight, and so she came off better than in recent interviews with Charles Gibson and Katie Couric. Palin was charming and good-humored. She played her role well, attacking Obama and Biden and portraying her running mate as a maverick who has learned from the blunders of the last 8 years.

    I think the final verdict will be that this debate was essentially a tie, meaning that it didn't change the race much at all. I think Republicans around the country are breathing a huge sigh of relief.

    On a final note, how great was it that the Biden and Palin families hung out for awhile on stage after the debate, introducing spouses, children, and grandchildren, and chatting good-naturedly? Personally, I'm no less concerned about having Palin one 72 year-old heartbeat away from the presidency, but she seems genuinely nice.

  4. I shared some of my thoughts here:


    I still think that until McCain/Palin prove that they will be Bush #2..they have no shot. I don't think tonight they proved anything.

  5. I feel like I watched a different debate than the reporters watched.

    I thought Palin was condescending and full of much more bravado than content. Again.

    Winking at the camera? In a political debate? This is what we call likable?

    The response times were way too short. It was enough time for them to be able to deliver sound-bites but not much more.

  6. yes. all that winking. winking is not endearing. creepy, mostly.

  7. As a proud member of the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America), I can tell you that the buzz in those circles is that both candidates missed the mark on veteran, general military, and Iraq and Afghanistan War issues.

    There's a sense that the veterans are being used as a political prop.

  8. Sarah sure can "tickle ears".

    *takes deep breath*

    It was like watching two different debates.

    Sarah and Joe were on completely different levels. So much so that I felt like a freshman (Sarah)had someone gotten into a doctorate class (Joe-as professor!)and not only wasn't aware of the gap in ability but didn't CARE that she might be in over her head.

    I dunno.

    I have a pretty low threshold for BS, even though I LOVED Sarah at the convention. She sure has presence, I'll give her that, but boy, did she get on my nerves.

  9. Polls are showing folks believe Palin performed better than expected.

    I have no idea why...she seemed absolutely awful to me. She was grating and simple. I don't think she was evading questions, I think she just honestly doesn't know the answers.

    And how people are so in love with her "folksy straight talk" is beyond me. I betha' they can't understand she ain't sayin' anything at all when she slips that there Alaskan accent on.

    Maybe I was disappointed because I didn't see the interview with Katie Couric, but it's beginning to look like McCain's biggest mistake was nominating her too early...should've waited until a week before the election or so and rode out the wave of excitement.

    As for Biden, it's a shame he looks and smiles like a used car salesman. He was decent in most areas, but really took it to Palin in foreign policy, where it was clear he has extensive experience.

  10. I think the key there is "better than expected."

    The Couric interview was truly awful. She can hardly have done worse than expected.

  11. I think you're right, dd...and since I didn't watch the Couric interview, I didn't have such low expectations.

  12. After watching the debate, I decided it might be worthwhile to give all candidates involved a thesaurus.

    Or at least point them to thesaurus.com.

  13. My barista/manager wife will tell you that "exceeds expectations" is the top score a Starbucks employees can get on a performance review. But that only works if expectations are high. In Palin's case, "exceeds expectations" is a testament to how low expectations were leading into the debate. (Jordan, watch the interview with Katie Couric. You'll experience such a wide range of emotions - pity, laughter, fear - that your prefrontal cortex will start smoking from system overload.)

    I mentioned in my earlier post that the candidates essentially tied. That was a misleading statement. Clearly Biden won the debate as a debate; he was experienced, engaged, and showed a command of the issues. But, as a performance, which is unfortunately how many will view last night's debate, it was a tie - which means, I'll say again, that it didn't change the race at all.

    I didn't notice the winking thing though I did hear that she had trouble with an eyelash.

    If Palin's strong suit is her heartland values and folksy charm - which is what I hear from some of my Republican friends - let's make sure the charm can first be translated from English to Arabic (Farsi, Korean, Chinese, etc.).

  14. Two additional notes:

    1. I feel like my last comment was mean-spirited. I just want to clarify that I'm talking about Palin as a candidate, not as a person. I'm sure she's a great person. I don't blame Palin for being in over her head. I blame McCain for making such a craven political move with no real regard for the safety and security of the country.

    2. Two snap polls conducted by TV networks showed that undecideds thought Biden won the debate by a wide margin. I still don't think the debate changed the race, but I could be wrong.

  15. for the first hour, i was unimpressed by both candidates. i thought they both seemed uncomfortable and didn't answer the questions they were presented. until foreign policy was the topic. at that point, senator biden was in his sweet spot and he talked as one who knew his topic well enough to speak frankly. governor palin seemed completely out of her element when talking about foreign policy.
    on an unrelated angle, the little slips of the tongue, and repeated words gave me laughs. governor palin called the senator O'Biden once. that made me laugh. and then once i started counting the number of times "also" was used, it could have been a horrifying drinking game. Please kids do not play that game.

  16. @ John Pattison

    I agree with you very much but I thought I would pose a question to you.

    Is it bad that the VP debates did not "change the race?"

    Because as I see it, the VPs are probably not taking the position, going into the debate, of "I've gotta change this race," but rather they are thinking more along the lines of "Don't rock the boat." They are probably more concerned with supporting their running mate then making any big statements that will effect the overall outcome.


  17. Am I the only one who can no longer look at Governor Palin without seeing Tina Fey?

    Whenever Palin says "Joe Sixpack" I want to scream "don't make it easier than it already is!"

  18. @melanie

    What does "Joe Sixpack" even mean? Is it a compliment to the physical fitness of the average guy, or to his tendency to overindulge on cold ones?

  19. Rob,

    I think the McCain camp was hoping the debate last night would change the race. Obama's lead nationwide and in key swing states is moving beyond the margin of error. McCain's drop in the polls is due to the near collapse of our banking system and the corresponding drop in Palin's favorability. A huge segment of the electorate has come to see Palin as unprepared to serve as Veep and President. She had the opportunity to change minds last night and I think, overall, she did not. She needed the rock the boat of public opinion, but she didn't.

    To answer your question directly: I don't think it was a bad thing that the race went unchanged - but then I'm one of those people who think a McCain-Palin administration would be bad for the country and for the world.

  20. Paul Krugman made an interesting note today. Sarah Palin finished her closing remarks by quoting Ronald Reagan:

    "It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we’re going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free."

    Krugman comments: "When did [Reagan] say this? It was on a recording he made for Operation Coffeecup — a campaign organized by the American Medical Association to block the passage of Medicare. Doctors’ wives were supposed to organize coffee klatches for patients, where they would play the Reagan recording, which declared that Medicare would lead us to totalitarianism.

    "You couldn’t make this stuff up."

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  22. I think Palin and Biden proved that they can both go on blind dates--that is they can hold it together and showcase their best side and avoid weak spots like one should avoid messy and smelly foods when trying to make a good first impression. Palin had more to hide so she insulted our intelligence when she couldn't answer a question by playing up maverick credentials which now apparently includes not answering questions. Both folks played it safe to the hilt. We can at least say that Palin didn't tank and that she card-reads well. I still think she's got more ill-founded confidence than skill and that she and I are equally qualified to be Vice President of the United States. For the record, I don't get her enduring appeal following the brief post-convention honeymoon given increasing evidence that she is COMPLETELY out of her depth. If only it had been a Mike Huckabee/Chuck Norris Republican ticket....*sigh*

  23. I'm a little late to the party, but I can tell you that this debate actually helped me make up my mind. As I had written on this blog a few weeks ago, I was completely undecided. Now I am not.

    @ melanie - I, too, only see Tina Fey now when I look at Palin. What a stroke of luck for SNL that Fey looks so much like her and can mimic her perfectly!