I watched the vice presidential debate last night. This post is really more for me to sort my thoughts on what went down. As a disclaimer, I went into this already being an Obama/Biden supporter.
My initial thought, and what was reported in the papers today, is that Sarah Palin did a better job than I thought she would. In fact, the headline in this morning's Burlington Free Press is "Palin Stands Ground in VP Debate" with the sub-headline "Republican holds her own vs. Biden". This all sounds warm and fuzzy for the McCain/Palin ticket until you realize that the expectations for Palin were really, really, really low going into the debate. Honestly, the fact that she could string at least two coherent sentences together and manged to go the entire hour and a half not humiliating herself means that she performed better than expected. Following up on that thought, if the bar was set so low for Palin as to be on the floor,what does this tell us about her ability to lead this country?
Some other random thoughts from the debate:
I will never understand why news outlets continue to poll people on who they thought 'won' the debate. How can you win a debate? If news outlets want to poll people on who they thought did better in the debate, that's fine, but can we stop this who won the debate nonsense?
Sarah Palin appeared nervous, but spoke well. Towards the end, she seemed to grow more and more anxious.
Joe Biden performed well as expected. He was careful not to come across as overly harsh, while still telling Palin why she is incorrect and getting in some zingers, such as comparing McCain's health care plan to the bridge to nowhere. He seemed frustrated with Palin's repeated use of disproven talking points.
One of my favorite moments from the debate was when the moderator, Gwen Ifill, called both Biden and Palin out for not answering the question. I think that she should have kept calling out the candidates when they danced around question without actually answering.
Joe Biden came off as very knowledgeable. For the most part, his answers were direct and contained as much policy substance as can be crammed into the 90-120 second answer period.
Sarah Palin, on the other hand, did her best to avoid actually answering a single question (although she may have answered one by accident). Asked about the economy, she talked about Iraq, asked about health care, she talked about...something not remotely connected to health care; unfortuantely I do not recall exactly what. It may had something to do with Ronald Reagan.
Palin looked like she prepared answers for theoretical debate questions, and was determined to use those answers whether or not the questions were asked. At one point she made the statement to Biden, 'I may not answer the questions the way you or the moderator want to hear'. No, honey, you're answering questions that haven't been asked.
My personal favorite rebuttal was given by Biden, responding to Palin's wandering aswer on the environment and climate change, claiming that we don't really know what is behind our changing climate. Biden responds with 'If you don't understand what the cause is, it's impossible to come up with a solution.' I had the same thought about 5 seconds into her answer.
Biden looked relaxed and comfortable. He addressed his answers to Ifill, which makes sense, since she was the one asking the questions.
Palin addressed the camera. And winked a lot. What was up with that?
Another great moment came at the end of the debate. When asked about Dick Cheney's definition of vice presidential powers, Palin responded that she agreed with him. Biden responded by saying Cheney over stepped his power, citing Article I of the Constitution. Thank you, Biden.
Palin sure likes to mention Reagan a lot. In fact, in her closing statement, she said "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." It was pointed out to me earlier today that Reagan made this statement warning what would happen if Medicare was enacted. This might not have been the best choice of quotes, since a major difference between the two candidates is their position on health care.
More random thoughts...
The ever popular debate drinking game.
This debate, take a shot every time Palin says the word 'maverick'. Take another every time she winks at the camera. Take another shot every time Biden says the phrase 'middle class'. Sorry, that's the best I can come up for with Biden.
The moderator should be able to throw flags like a foot ball ref. When a candidate doesn't answer a question, call them on delay of game. Throw the penalty BS flag whenever a candidate spouts off an obvious lie or disproven talking point.
Also, don't forget to vote November 4th. And don't forget to register if you haven't done so already. The deadline in Vermont for voter registration for the general election is October 29th.