And it Begins for Palin and Biden. . .

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Gwen Ifill starts. The candidates are all smiles and first names. . .
First question to Joe Biden. Was the bailout bill the worst or best of Washington?
Biden gives the perfect answer — it’s not the best or worst of Washington in dealing with a major cataclysm — but rather a question of how we got there and what the stewardship of the economy has been.
Biden is great with lines — he talked about Main Street, economically stressed people in their homes, and taxpayers as “investors.”
Palin just whacked the Bush years for its lack of oversight of the economy and said McCain was a guy who “even suspended his campaign” to focus on this problem. . .not a great start but not a bad start. . .
Biden sticks it to Palin and says McCain just weeks ago said the economy is strong — fundamentals sound — and then flipped.
Palin responds to workers — says McCain was speaking to them, not just about the economy. She has reached out to workers and soccer moms and working families who are fearful about the future.
Palin blames “predator lenders” for the subprime crisis — and says there is corruption on wall street and wow. . .says directly to “soccer moms” and “joe six pack” that “we” should never let this happen again. Pretty direct to working class Americans. She’s more shrewd than folks may have thought.
Hmmm…I hope that the advisers and stage directors haven’t toned Joe Biden down too much. I like him when he’s wound up, going after his opponent ferociously. He should be tougher on her — going after her soundbites.
Finally. . .Biden goes after her for not being honest about John McCain’s deregulation record — and then she knocks back Ifill and Biden saying she’s not going to answer questions they want and talk directly to the American people. I don’t know how average Americans liked that, but I didn’t think it was too swift of Palin.
Biden. . .fairness, “the Middle Class is struggling. . .”, no one under $250,000 of income in the Obama plan will see a tax rise. He’s speaking to the Middle Class. He’s doing what she was doing — and that’s evening this encounter out. I hear the sense and logic in Biden’s comments — but I do miss his classic zingers which haven’t emerged yet.
Palin has not had any clear gaffes yet. Biden is meeting expectations — but thus far, she is exceeding them.
Now she’s trying to share some “details” of the McCain health care plan. Smart answer. Decent contrast of principles and issues with the Obama health care plan. She’s coming off as a libertarian, anti-government type on health care. Don’t know if the public will buy it in this environment, but she was articulate.
Biden is getting revved up. He says McCain is going to tax the health care plans of Americans in order to pay for the McCain $5,000 tax credit. LOL….Biden just called the disruptions caused by the McCain health care plan the “ultimate bridge to nowhere.”
Given constraints on the economy now, Biden says that we’ll have to probably slow down foreign assistance and then goes after an impressive list of corporate welfare tax cuts — but says we will not going to slow up on education and affordable health care, and other items that just swished past me. Biden is also against offshore strategies to avoid taxes — and stood by his statement that this was “unpatriotic.”
Palin is painting herself as the oil company slaying gladiator while Obama is one to acquiesce to big energy firms. . .none of her lines on this are memorable. Or maybe I’m just tired.
Palin just asserted that John McCain wouldn’t take anything off the table that he had promised because of the troubled economic circumstances we are in. She’s asserting that he would do nothing and smiling about it.
Biden just cited the windfall profits tax that Palin supported in Alaska but which McCain does not support in Congress. Point Biden.
Palin used the term “mainstreeters like me. . .” Good line actually.
Biden is the least wealthy Senator in the U.S. Senate (100 out of 100). I’d put him on Main Street too.
Palin all about energy, energy, energy. . .independence.
Ifill asks Palin about climate change. “We know it’s real, I’m not one to attribute every activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man’s activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet, but there are real changes going on in our climate, and I don’t want to argue about the causes.”
But she wants to reduce carbon emissions. If she doesn’t agree that carbon emissions contribute to climate change, than why reduce?
Biden gets the logic right. To change the pattern of climate change, we need to come to terms with causes. That’s a solid answer. I wish he’d just get riled up though — he’s staying calm. Calm. Smart but calm. I like Biden but would love some high octane zingers. He just gave one — it will take ten years to get a drop of oil out of any of the new wells McCain and Palin are talking about.
What does Palin keep looking at when she looks down? Does she have a cheat sheet?
Yo…question is would Biden support giving rights to same sex couples? Biden says hospital visitation, life insurance rights, ownership and more — the same constitutional rights are deserved by same sex relationships. Good answer.
Palin is opposed to redefining marriage — but says she is “tolerant.” Some of my best friends are gay. . .
Joe Biden and Obama oppose redefining marriage — and Biden just sort of whacked her fake answer on giving gay couples the same constitutional rights as any other Americans. She refused to go further.
Now to foreign policy. She’s happy about the surge. Saluted Petraeus and McCain. We are getting closer and closer to victory. . .all good points that sell to folks who want to hear platitudes and not reality.
Biden said “with all due respect, I didn’t hear a plan.” And Biden just called Palin out telling her that McCain voted the same way they did on war funding.
Ifill is limp tonight — not pushing anything. Jim Lehrer would tease stuff out, push here and there — and she’s letting off Palin and Biden with framing that should be kicked in the side. McCain’s people may have intimidated Ifill these last few days over the controversy about her forthcoming book.
We cannot have moderators who don’t push. This is too important an encounter.
Biden scored a zinger after Palin paid respect to Biden for his support of the troops – but then said “another story” on Obama. Biden was very good and strong in saying John McCain voted against war funding.
Now to Pakistan. Biden is showing great facility in talking about news and the tough neighborhood of Pakistan, Iran, and the environs. Biden says if we have an attack against the U.S., it will come from Pakistan — not Iraq.
Wow…Palin just said Ahmadenijad, Kim Jong Il, and the Castro brothers — she’s been studying.
I don’t agree with her view, but Palin did well on handling the negotiation with world leaders question. Palin said “Diplomacy is hard work by serious people. . .friends and allies lined up. . .and the like before sitting down with dictators who hate America.”
Biden is constantly strong — and raised the issue I was on Keith Olbermann’s show about — Spain. Biden reminded that McCain would not even sit down with the President of Spain, an American ally.
Palin supported a two state solution in Israel/Palestine — but also hit the buttons that Israel is our strongest and best ally in the Middle East. She just said that she wants the US Embassy in Jerusalem. That will strike a few matches.
Biden reminds that noone has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. Probably true. And then he rips a hole in the Bush administration’s Middle East policy — calling it “an abject failure.”
Ugh…did she say, “So happy to learn that we both love Israel.” This is false choice rhetoric that is weak and pretends that hugging one side of the Middle East equation solves things. It does not.
Biden is getting revved up again — he doesn’t know how McCain will differ from Bush on Israel, Iran, and more. . .Great segment there.
Ifill asks when nukes should be used. Palin says that they are the be all, end all. Says US systems are a deterrent. Not bad. She knows more than she would have a few weeks ago.
Biden: “Our commanding general in Afghanistan said that surge principles that were used in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan.”
Biden is a pro. It’s clear in every response. He went after McCain for voting against nuclear arms control regimes like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Sarah Palin is not doing badly actually — but her performance is amateurish. In terms of speaking to her audience, the ones inclined to support her, I think she’s probably connecting — but she’s still coming off as a junior, unprepared, somewhat amateurish force in the debate.
What she’s retained though and how she has framed her responses is not just from rote. She’s thinking — and she’s aggressive. It’s interesting to watch and hear how she frames her responses.
Palin. . .”oh, woe is me, I’m just an outsider who doesn’t know how you insiders do it.” Isn’t she running with one of the consummate inside players in DC? John McCain’s been a power player in the country for ages.
Biden was asked whether there was a line that mattered when we went into a country or not. He said the first measure is to know whether our action would achieve a desired result or not. That’s the right answer.
Ifill asks the heartbeat away question. How would a Biden administration be different than an Obama administration? Biden said he would implement Barack Obama’s plans on education, heatlh care, infrastructure investment, ending the Iraq War and generating a better foreign policy that engages allies in collaboration rather than dictating to them. Really good answer. Biden is turned on; reminds people that this is a vital, critically important election.
Palin said they are a “team of mavericks” and not going to agree on everything. She’d disagree with him on ANWR oil drilling — but agrees with him on reform and getting rid of the greed and corruption on Wall Street.
Whoa….she just said that she wanted the Senate to grant more authority to the Vice President. We’ve already had that with Cheney informally but brutally. I can’t believe that she just said she wanted the Senate to extend more power and authority than constitutionally provided for to the Vice President.
Biden gave a solid answer. He’d be in the room – a general portfolio – giving advice but recognizing that Obama was president.
Palin just said “we have a lot of flexibility in there” about how to work the vice presidency vs. the constitutional role in the Senate.
Biden: “Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president in the history of the country.” I couldn’t agree more.
Biden went right after Cheney’s attempts to aggrandize power and generate the notion of the “unitary executive.” I wish Gwen Ifill had asked Palin about her thoughts on “the unitary executive” – a concept cobbled together from past efforts to build an imperial presidency that can defy the checks and balances of government. John Yoo, David Addington and Richard Cheney were major promulgators of the unitary executive theory of the presidency.
Palin is getting too much platitude time. Not that it’s making her shake the amateurishness of her style.
Biden crafted the violence against women act, put thousands of cops on the street, worked hard on Bosnia’s aggression. Biden just had a very emotional moment about talking about being a single dad, being poor, and working hard to make it….powerful answer. Not scripted. Not false. Interesting and unexpected moment.
Just eight minutes left. . .
Biden says John McCain no maverick in providing health care for people, not a maverick on education, not on a maverick on the war, not a maverick on anything that people generally talk about around their kitchen table. . .very good answer.
Joe Biden on John McCain: “A maverick he is not. . .”
Joe Biden gave good answer that he had evolved and changed in his view that the president should almost always have the court appointments he believed in, particularly on the Supreme Court. Biden said he went against his earlier views and opposed the appointment of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court — a battle that he helped win.
Palin’s “caving” on issues of things she had to pass or veto in Alaska went into non-specific territory. So, no zinger or memorable line there.
Biden gave a mature answer because he doesn’t question the “motives” of people who come to Congress — even when he strongly disagrees with them.
Palin said she follows the same path, works across the aisle, and appoints competent people in her experience in Alaska (some might debate this of course). . .and then really hit all of the bullet lines that appeal to conservatives and paint Obama-Biden as the real “job-killing” liberals.
Palin’s closing statement was powerful — wrapped the life every middle class family wants to have in the American flag. Nice performance.
Biden ends by stating that this is the most important election that they’ve participated in during their life. He reflected on the eight years of digging into a hole that the Bush administration has done. He said we should benchmark progress on all sorts of personal stories of advancement and improvement, dignity and respect.
Very uplifting and powerful from Biden.
It’s 4:30 am here in Vienna, Austria where I’m watching this.
My view is that this was a win for Biden who came off as a real pro — solid, informed, steady, fair, and Biden had a touching, emotional moment reflecting on his kids. I think that this was one of the best performances overall Biden has given — and while I wanted him to rev up to perhaps reckless levels, the fact that he didn’t was impressive.
But this was not the loss for Palin that many expected and some even wanted. She had no real Katie Couric-interview like moments and held her own with some occasional bursts of complex answers. She connected with people on an emotional level. I think Palin came off as amateurish, particularly on foreign policy.
Biden gets a win from TWN tonight. He was just solid and excelled, but Palin did OK. She was not a disaster by any means.
In the first presidential debate, I thought McCain had the edge. Now, I’m looking forward to the next debate between the top seeds.
— Steve Clemons
Update
Here are some comments sent in from other observers:
TWN Contributor Richard Vague

Palin bumbled along just fine–her evasions and stumbles were minimal, and only slightly painful. The audience groaned or giggled at those moments she was particularly evasive. Her hominess and folksiness worked well and didn’t seem to wear too thin during the 90 minutes. I’m not sure the Bush folks appreciated her comment that they had made “major blunders.”
Biden did well, was gracious, and clearly knew the much more detail than Palin, but I’m not sure how much of that the average voter would notice.
Plently of energetic and vocal support for Palin inside and outside the auditorium. A women seated near me was wearing a Palin sweatshirt.
Palin was about as well prepared as a governor from Alaska could be in five weeks.
From inside the auditorium it looked pretty close. I think that’s all Obama and Biden needed.

TWN Contributor Brian Till

About fifteen minutes left and the press area’s getting restless. Lots of people moving around. Relative calm has given way to some outright laughter at ‘dog gonnit,’ a third grade shout-out and Palin’s second and hopefully final wink of the night.

European Journalist Watching Frank Luntz Focus Group

Steve, in case it didn’t work out in the Kaffeehaus — FoxNews’s Luntz group was evenly split on Palin before the debate, and after it they all save one thought Palin was great. In my own view, the was very evasive on a lot of questions, but she unleashed a barrage of main street charm onto Senator Biden, who had some trouble to not look old, although he was unleashing a barrage of facts on her.

More later.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

50 comments on “And it Begins for Palin and Biden. . .

  1. Kathleen says:

    Rich…Reagan was a bad actor in the thespian sense, too which is why he had to find a new profession…..one with just as much pretense and someone writing his lines…politics.

    Reply

  2. rich says:

    Paul,
    As I pointed out, Obama and Biden have NOT made the same mistake as many Palin critics.
    I was pretty clear, Paul. Is ridiculing Gov. Palin an effective way to counter her ability to turn out the Republican base? No.
    I’m not mis-stating this blog’s record or the overall perspective of commenters.
    But I disagree there is a real substantive difference between Bush and Palin’s policies, experience or religious leanings. Now, you can quibble all you want about denominations attended and the difference between Connecticut and Alaska, but let’s face it, who invented and pushed Bush’s economic policies? Folks in Connecticut, or folks in Alaska? Some of the GOP in each?
    Who instigated an alliance with Pat Robertson, Falwell, and Ralph Reed? Who exploited the evangelical base, encouraged Judge Roy Moore, and pushed HARD to erase the separation of church and state?
    It was Ronald Reagan. It was George Bush.
    Ultimately, there is a tendency, in the GOP, DC and MSM ranks, to ignore that tradition of fostering radical religious views and radical economic policies and radical Constitutional theories—and hang their sudden disbelief on Gov. Palin, who essentially espouses the same views. Using the same methods. Bush, Cheney and Reagan got a free pass relative to this kind of ridicule, considering its source. Yet Sarah Palin is deemed out of the mainstream?
    Not saying Steve or commenters are guilty of that. Just saying obsessing about Palin distracts from John McCain, and he’s the issue. Republican policies past and current are the issue. And how to counteract Palin’s electoral appeal is the issue. Attacking Sarah Palin on cultural grounds is ineffectual.
    When it comes to what they want to do, and who they are, there is no fundamental distinction between Bush, Cheney, Reagan and Sarah Palin. Gov. Palin is well-schooled in the mainstream Republican electoral method. Deal with it, Paul. Don’t pretend Republicans have a legacy to save here. There are many who will quibble; but that’s nit-picking, hair-splitting sophistry by those unwilling to take a good, close look at the era of Reagan-Gingrich-DeLay-Cheney-Putsch. Now we’re supposed to be all in a tizzy because some hockey mom from Alaska got the call instead of a pedigreed, vetted, certifiable lunatic from the Ivy Leagues. If Reagan and Bush didn’t tip folks off that going around the rules and around the arbiters of the process to win wasn’t Step One, they weren’t paying attention.
    Palin’s already fanning the flames; how far she gets is a matter of how strongly the media the pundits and Republicans are willing to stand up for basic truths, basic shared understandings of the American form of governance.
    Like:
    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-dont-get-your-oversight-by-dday.html
    Funny what’s not getting covered while we obsess:
    John McCain’s race-based smear strategy.
    No accountability and no testimony from Rove or Miers, despite the proven involvment of Rove in David Iglesias’ firing.
    Soviet military in Venezuela.
    Look, the discredit-and-ridicule method of dealing with opposing nominees is standard. But we’ll exclude many superior candidates if we get shallower in the process. It has to be consistent, and it has to be valid.
    Sarah Palin’s policy positions are standard, mainstream Republican politics. Right to the core. If that fact goes un-contested, we could elect Obama and still lose the election. There’s something wrong when those who installed these policies are not brought to heel.

    Reply

  3. Paul Norheim says:

    Rich, to win, Obama and Biden have to continue to attack
    McCain and his ideas. It would be a mistake if they started
    ridiculing Sarah Palin.
    Rich, to a certain degree, I think you`re fighting straw men
    here. Who says that Palin is the only issue, or that ridiculing her
    is the only way to win against the GOP ticket?
    As long as Sarah Palin wants the same powers as Cheney has,
    i.e. extended powers, there are several issues.
    1) McCain.
    2) Palin.
    3) The Bush/Neocon ideology and people behind McCain/Palin.
    4) The Washington DC elites.
    5) Pundits.
    6) Right Wing Radio talk shows.
    At TWN, people have dealt with all issues mentioned above.
    Most of the core commentators here have done little else in the
    last years than criticizing the DC mentality, the neocon
    ideology, the Reagan/republican mentality, and every thinkable
    aspect of the Bush/Cheney policies and mentality.
    Everybody from POA and to Carroll to Dan Kervick, Questions or
    WigWag despise the beltway mentality, as well as most of the
    pundits – perhaps for slightly different reasons.
    Is this done to convince the hockey moms, Joe six pack or core
    GOP voters? No. But still it make sense trying to analyze and try
    to formulate what went wrong.
    Will ridicule of, or warnings against Palin convince the right
    wing Christians that she is dangerous? No. but someone has to
    say that she is dangerous, and that here particular religious sect
    is actually far more extreme than the usual born again Christian
    churches. Because that`s the truth.
    Basically, I think you`re in line with the average commentators
    here (myself included), thinking that Obama should continue to
    attack McCain and GOP policies, but that the real problems and
    issues are fare more complex; are broader and deeper, and even
    include positions and mentalities within the democratic party,
    including Obama and Biden.
    Pundits like Maureen Dowd and others have had much fun
    ridiculing Palin, and some left wing blogs have specialized in
    this as well. There you have an obvious point. This may
    backfire. But it would be difficult for you to find a credible
    person at TWN, who really believes that Sarah Palin is the only
    problem in US politics today.
    And I find it ridiculous of you to suggest that Palin may be
    qualified, but that the real problem is her (read; the GOP)
    positions. We all agree that Bush was not qualified – especially
    on foreign affairs. Even the mainstream media were stunned at
    his ignorance in 2000, remember? And Palin is even more
    ignorant. And you`re saying that her religious beliefs are
    comparable to, say, G.W. Bush`s beliefs? If you`ve ever spent
    ten minutes studying the faith and actions of the Wasilla
    Church, you would see that they are way beyond that.
    And yeah, I know that by stating this, I won`t convince GOP core
    voters on the religious right. Most of them don`t read this blog.
    But it has to be said.
    Rich, I still can`t see your point, beyond the obvious. I think
    you`re wasting your time on this issue. Inventing straw men.
    DC insiders and pundits should have warned against Bush and
    Cheney from the very beginning, and especially during the first
    years after 9.11? Sure. That`s pretty much what this blog is
    about.

    Reply

  4. rich says:

    Paul,
    This’ll be incomplete.
    The ridicule of Palin comes with a risk. It’s not on-point, it ignores her visceral Reaganesque appeal, and distracts from the real task of talking about who McCain really is.
    Obama and Biden are doing a much better job than their self-appointed surrogates. No complaints there.
    Palin, much as I dislike her, should be assessed on her qualifications, her record, and her ideas. But by the same token, so should Georege Bush and Ronald Reagan.
    Same ideas; different mouthpieces. So where was the centrist, media, and moderate Republican criticism for Bush and Reagan? These guys were also cocky whackos in their own right, pushing unsound policies and divisive rhetoric, running on poor records and weak resumes.
    Yet they were taken seriously. Same policy positions. We all had the tools to know those policies were damaging and the nominees inadquate.
    Yet Reagan and Bush were taken seriously.
    Point is, Establishment Washington still has a lot to answer for. Many of the same folks are elbowing to swoop in as trusted advisor for the next Prznt. Yet they pushed our Iraq quagmire, backed Bush—or said nothing substantive to resist, and did less.
    So pointing the finger at Gov. Palin in ridicule is the easy way out. It’s a tactic that doesn’t effectively counteract her appeal among the Republican base. It doesn’t confront the real issue: John McCain’s qualifications, stability, and history. It absolutely does not tackle the Republican policies that’ve gotten us into these multiple crises. And it sure as hell holds no one currently in D.C. accountable for going along to get along. And it underestimates Gov. Palin in the same way most underestimated George Bush.
    The same ridicule can be turned against a candidate I like, but who just happens to lack the right pedigree or offical vetting. That’s not just bad, it’s stupid.
    If John McCain’s judgment were the issue, then why aren’t we talking about John McCain’s judgment?
    Making his VP selection the issue by demonizing Sarah Palin will never, never convince Sarah Palin fans she’s a bad gal. It’s Politics 101.
    It won’t prevent a massive turnout of the base—which is the one factor that could save McCain, but sink Obama.
    You assert that Gov. Palin is more dangerous than previous Republican nominees. That’s fundamentally ludicrous. Sarah Palin is no more or less dangerous and no more or less threatening to our way of life and shared values, and no more or less qualified than George Bush and Dick Cheney and Ronald Reagan.
    The parallels with George Bush are particularly revealing. But the experience canard is exposed by Dick Cheney’s malfeasance and corruption, and works equally well against Sen. Obama. Palin’s got Reagan’s methodology virtually perfected.
    It’s only now that the Emperor has no clothes that the media ridicules Palin. For 28 years we had to listen to this tripe as though it were responsible or plausible.
    Now, suddenly, the GOP is likely to lose the Przntl contest, and people are falling all over themselves to make fun of the same qualities, the same religious perspective and nationalistic fervor, the same corrosive policies they indulged in and encouraged before. Sorry, but some acknowledgment of their own (DC/GOP/MSM) responsiblity is warranted.
    In some ways Gov. Palin is a flawed candidate–on her record. Very flawed—until Reagan, Cheney and Bush lowered the bar to bargain-basement standards. It’s not simply that there’s little difference in the character and qualifications of those four candidates (and I do not exaggerate). It’s that anyone who knows anything about politics understands that Sarah Palin’s appeal at the polls will not be diminished by this kind of ridicule.
    Don’t think this ideologically-based criticism or personal ridicule will change anybody’s mind. The danger is in pretending the ridicule will work, or is enough. That outrage didn’t work against Reagan or Bush.
    But don’t sit and tell us that Palin’s religion is any different than Bush’s or Reagan’s, at root, by association, and including key alliances. Or really, her record. We’ve had NO accountability in Washington for 8 years; now suddenly we’re supposed to count Gov. Palin out just because she’s modeled her behavior on Bush & Cheney? Get real. Transferring responsibility to Palin for Bush’s malfeasance, and letting Cheney and Bush off the hook is a miscarriage of justice of historic proportions. Red herring.
    Many of the same folks (MSM, The Punditry, DC Establishment) now complaining about Gov. Palin couldn’t be bothered to engage seriously about the actual facts of Reagan’s or Bush’s record and character. Or their policies.
    Widening the circle of voices in these discussions is long past due. Had that been done in past years, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Instead, the GOP, punditry and MSM facilitated and encouraged right-wing ‘cocky whackos’ to break the rules, ram through irresponsible policies, and unleash religious zealotry.
    Fine job. Now, they want no part of the fallout. Excuse me for pointing out that offended liberal sensitivities will never deter right-wingers from voting for Gov. Palin. If anything, it’ll increase turnout.

    Reply

  5. Paul Norheim says:

    Rich, on and off, I`ve read some of your many comments re.
    Palin, but what`s your basic point?
    On one thread here, a couple of weeks ago or so, you attacked
    the “elite” attitude against Palin – if my memory is correct. (a
    very interesting and passionate comment, BTW, but I disagreed
    with your conclusion). In the last days, you`ve said that it`s
    absurd to attack Palin, as long as she is a continuation of
    Reagan, Bush etc., and that blog commentators should rather
    attack the Republican Party and McCain. Is that correct, or am I
    misunderstanding something here?
    If that`s what you`ve said, both Biden (in his last debate with
    Palin) and Obama have done what you`re recommending; not
    attacking Palin, but McCain. That`s fine tactically. But a lot of
    blog commentators are still attacking Palin, because they think
    she`s horrible, more horrible than the average republican
    candidate during recent years, especially regarding her
    dangerous religious background and certain actions committed
    while she was a governor and major.
    What`s wrong with that?
    You ask: “Should McCain’s choice of VP make a difference? It
    never has. People vote for Prznt. John McCain should be judged
    on his merits.”
    Well, first of all, one of McCain`s main “merits” in his effort to
    become the president is to chose a person as VP who is
    unprepared and a religious extremist.
    Secondly, the argument that “people vote for prznt” is much
    weaker when the candidate is old, and his VP candidate wants
    the same VP powers as Dick Cheney had. In this case the VP
    choice is rather important, if you ask me (and the rest of the
    world).
    Basically, people did not pay any attention to Dick Cheney when
    they elected George Bush,. And now you argue that we should
    pay less attention to Sarah Palin?
    Could you please explain this?

    Reply

  6. rich says:

    I know you don’t; just a friendly dig.
    ” . . . However, I do think it’s fair to argue that someone is unfit for office based on the power of his/her intellect, ideas, values, and philosophical outlook. Even, perhaps, knowledge or curiosity about the world.”
    Of course. Even Gov. Palin deserves to be judged on the merits. But that’s not what’s been happening, up ’til recently. Nor has examining Republican nominees for “the power of [their] intellect, ideas, values, and philosophical outlook” ever been a particular priority for think-tanker, pundit, journalist or political operative–not for decades.
    Palin’s type of approach makes straight-on attacks an ineffective way to counter her ballot-box appeal. Like-minded have been attracted; antagonists have been repelled. I think you can define yourself and what you intend to accomplish, and define John McCain (and Sarah Palin) on their records and campaign performance, without exaggerating the gimmicky stereotype that Palin’s a clueless rube. It’s hickstown, baby! the new meme, and we’re all to believe Sarah Palin became Governor of Alaska by accident.
    Even if she she didn’t quite pull it off; even if events outrun the power of the standard GOP lies she’s been using; even if her record speaks for itself—
    —let’s discredit the Republican policies John McCain’s been pushing. The same wrong-headed, corrosive Republican policies that Reagan and Bush pushed. Expose the policies for the damage they’ve done; expose the experienced party leaders that made the original mistake, Gramm, McCain, Reagan, Bush; then expose Sarah Palin’s record and qualfications.
    So let’s not pretend the MSM/villagers have been consistent. Sarah Palin is hardly the first “cocky whacko” thrust upon the national stage. Feigning shock and dismay at the Republican nominee’s depth or personal beliefs or qualifications or experience really goes too far, I think. NO one should be surprised. The GOP routinely put up nominees every bit as smart and forthright and capable as Sarah Palin. Moreover, the same interests backing Palin as backed her predecessors.
    Theirs may’ve been a slightly higher grade than Palin’s but it’s always been same sorry craptastic steaming pile.
    I do think there’s some sexism in play here. What sounded plausible and routine coming out of Cheney’s, Bush’s and McCain’s mouths, is suddenly glaringly ludicrous coming from Palin. Faux-i-ness from Bush and avuncularity from Reagan was indulged and applauded; folksiness and aunt-like familiarity from Palin is mistaken for naivete or shallowness.
    Different viewers I think take away entirely different responses to the debate, and for different reasons. She had a tough job; generating positive momentum and space to feed her flock under the circumstances was nearly impossible. Yet she delivered for the base, though she didn’t approach impresshing high-information voters.

    Reply

  7. Sweetness says:

    Lots of excellent points here, Rich. Thanks for going to the
    trouble. As to this…
    “If you’re “having a hard time, emotionally, with” America, “with
    this idea” that anyone can run for President regardless of origin,
    upbringing, profession, bloodline or wealth, then I have no
    sympathy.”
    This is most definitely NOT what I’m suggesting. However, I do
    think it’s fair to argue that someone is unfit for office based on
    the power of his/her intellect, ideas, values, and philosophical
    outlook. Even, perhaps, knowledge or curiosity about the world.
    Just because any older than 35 who’s native born CAN run for
    president doesn’t mean he or she is qualified–and we shouldn’t
    be afraid to argue that, in the manner you prescribe above.

    Reply

  8. rich says:

    Linda,
    Disagree there is any real difference between Ronald Reagan and Sarah Palin, in either substance or form.
    Gov. Palin clearly modeled her schtick on Gov. Reagan’s, and any difference in proficiency is just a matter of having practiced for decades as an actor and in three high profile campaigns before finally winning in ’80. Reagan got through national campaigns because his GOP handlers strictly controlled access, confined him to prepared scripts, and used a compliant media. You know Sarah Palin’s handlers will do the exact same thing. If she looks bad, the media’s not giving her Reagan’s free ride.
    Criticism like yours was met with “but people seem to like him!” which clearly still colors your perception of Reagan. Be careful of accepting ridicule simply because it confirms your viewpoint; that’s what eliminated Jimmy Carter and Al Gore. If you don’t think that matters, just compare: Day 444 Iran Hostage Crisis vs. Day 2,575 Osama bin Laden Still Free. Which was worse, Carter or Bush? Which received fair or deserving coverage?
    MainStream Media (Couric, Gibson) and pundits alike are only turning on Sarah Palin because their keisters are so exposed from not having adequately checked & balanced or challenged George Bush—who espoused the same damn policies.
    Your statement that Reagan’s personal papers reveal a “thoughtful and literate” man hardly prevented Reagan from displaying an ignorant and evasive public person, one not above exploiting race to put through destructive policies. Both Sen. Obama and Gov. Palin are projecting positive personality traits and positive take on their agenda, following Reagan’s ‘morning in America’ invocation of hope, hard work, and stubborn reliance on principle. There’s no reason you should assume Sarah Palin is not equally lettered and thoughtful, behind her public face. You underestimate her just as many underestimated George Bush. And as Reagan proved, upsetting the sensibilities of liberals is really no impediment to winning the affection of the middle or generating enthusiasm from the base. Further, I’d be remiss for not noting the sexism at root of your divergent opinion of the two.
    Point is, Reagan used the same culturally reassuring demeanor Palin adopts, and she doesn’t stop there. “Well, there you go again, Joe.” Sarah Palin comes across as ‘one of us’ and that’s no accident—the GOP is frantically telling gullible ‘low-information voters’ that “Barack Obama has nothing to do with America.” Same fear-based exploitaton of race that Ronald Reagan invoked. (Though Palin’s his better in that she hasn’t consciously abused that; she just is who she is.) People don’t vote based on merit or capability; they vote based on comfort, likability, perceived leadership & judgment and psychological factors.
    If Reagan’s persona was just an act, it only confirms he was a bad actor (in the metaphorical not thespian sense), for he surely was not responsive nor did he act in good faith on the issues of the day. That method is Sarah Palin’s model, and she’s not half bad at performing the routine.
    Sarah Palin openly uses Ronald Reagan’s rhetorical, electoral, psychological strategy. Turn out the base; divide those who belong from those who are different. Project an appealing, avuncular—aunt-like—persona with reassuring cultural demographic signals, tell Big Lies, use appealing parables, deflect, humor, patronize, and use spin and culturally powerful memes to define the other guy as Other.
    Gov. Palin’s accusation that Sen. Obama’s Iraq position is tantamount to “waiving the white flag of surrender” is vintage Ronald Reagan. Palin’s ‘never admit a mistake’, ‘Democrats cut-&-run’, ‘tax-&-spend liberal’ is straight out of Ronald Reagan’s playbook.
    The GOP Establishment doesn’t care who they use, and isn’t concerned about how obvious the lies are. If they’re repeated often enough, studies show, people believe them. The only lesson Sarah Palin has for us is just how full of shit Ronald Reagan was in the first place. After his second term concluded, his handlers fell all over themselves congratulating each other for their ‘public service’ in covering for him.
    Gov. Palin agressively pushes the same policies George Bush and Ronald Reagan and John McCain pushed through as nominees or as Prznt. They were ludicrously irresponsible then as they are now. Gov. Palin uses precisely the same rhetorical technizes and campaign gameplan as that used by Reagan and Bush. Gov. Palin carries with her the same record of inexperience, mistakes, abuse of power and as poor a grasp of policy as Ronald Reagan and George Bush. That’ll be ignored in the same way. Their supposedly superior qualifications ill-served the country. Sarah Palin should be viewed as the Repuglican machine politician she is. She deserves no less. And any less underestimates her. I can see her holding her own in the U.S. Senate, where she’ll fit right in. Not saying she’s incredibly accomplished, just that she shares the techniques and glaring flaws of those who’ve ascended, improbably, to the Przntzy.

    Reply

  9. taylorbad says:

    It would have only registered with a political/historical wonk, or a Montanan, but I felt a twinge of both pride and hope when Biden invoked the name of Senator Mike Mansfield of Montana and Senate Majority Leader. Mansfield was respected throughout the Senate for his fairness and integrity. He gave the young, newly widowed Biden the chance to recover his personal family losses AND appointed him to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mansfield saw something in Biden that was solid and he cultivated it. If Biden is looking to Mike Mansfield as a role model, he has increased his credibility with me.

    Reply

  10. rich says:

    Sweetness,
    lotsa points there.
    “Shouldn’t these moderates ALSO be expected to reject John McCain BECAUSE he chose Sarah Palin and put her in high office-
    -already with ambitions to “expand” the VP powers?”
    “Expecting” moderate Republicans to do anything or apply a little reason has never done any good. The past 16 years are proof of that. If moderate Republicans could be “expected” to reject candidates who plainly had ambitioned beyond those spelled out in the Constitution, ‘limited government’ Republicans would’ve raised a great hue and cry over Reagan, H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney and George Bush. Yet Lincoln Chafee can murmur into his tea over Bush, say nothing publically, but feels free to call Sarah Palin a “cocky whacko.” Takes a certain socio-cultural blindness and self-deception to fail to apply the same vocal criticism to the same policies and attitude displayed by cocky whacko George Bush. There’s little difference in the persona, stance or substance displayed by the two candidates.
    Should McCain’s choice of VP make a difference? It never has. People vote for Prznt. John McCain should be judged on his merits. He bears his own negative traits, shares others with Palin, and spouts the same nonsense and lies. To obsess over Pain is to ignore the task at hand: getting real about John McCain, who is THE issue to moderate Republicans who’re likely to swing or stay home. You’ll never change the minds of Palin voters; and McCain believers won’t be swayed by Palin’s faults.
    “I’m having a hard time, emotionally, with this idea of “let’s respect the rubes” because they’re citizens too and have just as much right to run for high office as the “sophisticates.”
    I had this same problem back with Reagan and with GWB who struck me as manifestly unqualified for office and possessing bad and even dangerous ideas.”
    If you’re “having a hard time, emotionally, with” America, “with this idea” that anyone can run for President regardless of origin, upbringing, profession, bloodline or wealth, then I have no sympathy.
    Why do you assume Sarah Palin is a rube? She’s not. Not any more than Lindsey Graham or Phil Gramm or George Bush or even Lincoln Chafee–who gets credit for being a humble horse farrier. Fair enough, ok, but Sarah Palin’s a GOP machine politician who bases her schtick on Reagan/Bush folksy, authentically Alaskan.
    They rammed Reagan and Bush through—do you really think they won’t push Sarah Palin by restricting access in controlled appearances with prepared speeches? Ticketed, GOP faithful-only ‘town-hall’ meetings—just like they did with George W. Bush—with lotsa friendly questions will work just fine with Gov. Palin. Do you really think they’d ever admit a mistake and take her off the ballot?
    Couric & Gibson only pretended to challenge Palin because they tide has turned and they have to save face for never truly challenging George W. Bush patent unfitness for the job.
    Those who accepted Bush/Cheney are the rubes here.
    Those wanting you to obsess about Sarah Palin on non-substantive grounds are treating YOU (us) as the rube here. It won’t change any minds among the true believers on the left or th right. It’s a distraction from the issues that’ll win or lose this election. That includes McCain’s temperament & qualifications as a candidate, and we ignore him at our own risk.
    Who gets ridiculed is a big deal, and I’d caution against getting sucked into it. It’s hard to fight, and Repubs won’t hesitate from turning it against you/us. The MSM and pundits ridiculed Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, John Kerry—and the country lost 30 years of opportunity to investment in itself.
    I’m not saying don’t fight back. Joe Biden went after John McCain and confronted Palin on the issues, on the record, and on the rhetoric and veracity of her/McCain’s performance. But you win respect by how you handle less able opponents.
    You say what you are for, what you’re gonna do, and what the country needs to hear and needs to accomplish. You act Presidential, command the facts, say what you think without getting baited into beating up an old man; you’ll do fine. You out-perform. A second viewing of Barack Obama’s performance shows he’s far more direct and confrontational than it might appear. He just does it on substantive grounds, does it respectfully, and doesn’t descend into personal, visceral or impassioned territory.
    Everybody knows the Republicans are hypocrites. They attack personally, then howl pitiably about ‘bipartisanship’. But that doesn’t mean it’ll work the other way ’round. John Kerry never fought back; was never crisp and direct and articulate enough to say, ‘the Toledo Blade’s 2004 Pulitzer Prize proved my 1970 winter solder speech: it matters how we enter a war and it must be through a Congressional Declaration; it matters whether we side with a just political cause and that we side with sovereignty and self-rule; it matters how we conduct ourselves on the battlefield.
    Do our tactics create enemies or win staunch allies? Failing to challenge the SwiftBoatLiars was a profound disservice to the country and to Vietnam and Iraq veterans. So Kerry got beat up—and he was the rube for figuring fair play and the high road would win points. Barack Obama corrects the records, sets it straight, and takes it to the other side. Kerry had all the advantages of a “sophisticate,” but wasn’t capable of, or fit to, win.
    Those who accepted Bush/Cheney are the rubes here. They, in turn, treated you and me as rubes when we expected some pushback, a little balance of power, some honest ponying up of what we all knew. Instead we got stonewalled, by Bush and by his ‘adversaries’, and they’ll be happy to do the same with Palin.

    Reply

  11. Kathleen says:

    Linda… Reagan sucked as President of SAG… my husband is and was a member of SAG and AFTRA .in the last year of his term…. many felt Reagan sold out labor….must have been when he was making his big switch to Conservative to protest FDR’s graduated income tax…. he was raking in the mega-big bucks as spokesman for GE….

    Reply

  12. Linda says:

    Oops, correction that is obvious, as I was thinking of Reagan growing up in IL and obviously Wasilla is in Alaska, but still being President of SAG for 8 years is much bigger job than being mayor of a small town in Alaska. I’m not sure what its membership was back then, but SAG now has about 120,000 members.

    Reply

  13. Linda says:

    Sweetness,
    When I lived in CA, I did not vote for Reagan for Governor or for President; however, I don’t think the comparison between Palin and him holds up in any way except ability to look good and communicate where he greatly surpasses her.
    Both did start in media–Reagan first in radio and then in TV where he was hired as a spokeman for GE because of his authenticity.
    Like him or his policies or not, he had a lot of valuable experience before becoming President. First of all he was for many years a New Deal Democract and was elected to the Board of SAG (Screen Actors Guild) in 1941 and earned in elections over years being elected as President. SAG has a lot more members than the population of Wasilla, IL.
    He gradually became more conservative and switched to being a Republican in 1962, and he was Governor of California with the largest population and most diversity of any state.
    And after his death as his letters and diaries have been published, it is clear that he was a very literate and thoughtful person who thought and cared about this country and politics a great deal.
    Reagan was not a rube and appealed to people (even at times me who opposed his policies) as sincere an authentic.
    So any comparison between Palin and Reagan is very superficial at best.

    Reply

  14. Sweetness says:

    Agreed…
    As to this…
    “Unless moderate Republicans reject John McCain on the basis of
    John McCain’s qualifications. Not Sarah Palin’s.”
    Shouldn’t these moderates ALSO be expected to reject John
    McCain BECAUSE he chose Sarah Palin and put her in high office-
    -already with ambitions to “expand” the VP powers–ambition
    she does not lack–and THAT close to the highest office?
    I admit. I’m having a hard time, emotionally, with this idea of
    “let’s respect the rubes” because they’re citizens too and have
    just as much right to run for high office as the “sophisticates.”
    I had this same problem back with Reagan and with GWB who
    struck me as manifestly unqualified for office and possessing
    bad and even dangerous ideas.
    Perhaps this has been your point: Attack the ideas mercilessly
    and leave the qualifications and, especially the person, alone.
    But let me ask you: Is that what the right wing does? Attack the
    ideas, but leave the person and his qualifications alone? Is that
    what they did to Dukakis in the tank? Is that what they did to
    Gore? Is that what Limbaugh, Hannity, and O’Reilly do when
    they hurl epithet after epithet at the “effete intellectual snobs.”
    And Coulter and Malkin are simply off the charts.
    And yet, it seems to work. And one hears nary a peep from
    right wing circles about respecting the 50% of the electorate who
    agree with Gore and don’t believe he invented the Internet.
    I know, I’m ranting here a bit. And I agree: the bottom line is to
    win and win on the merits. And frankly, with a few, a very few,
    exceptions, this is the kind of race Obama has run from the
    beginning. Even when the most vicious slurs are hurled at him,
    he sticks to the issues–forcefully–but without hitting back in
    kind, e.g., issuing an ad claiming that John McCain is FOR sexual
    predation against children.

    Reply

  15. kotzabasis says:

    Ah, the bete noir of the Democrats and the liberal intelligentsia: “Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president in the history of the country”. And I would say he has been the most clear-headed strategically and resolute in its history against the enemies of America. The Democrats and the intelligentsia MALICIOUSLY hate him-another of their bete noirs is John Bolton-because of his high intelligence and strong character, a rare combination not to be found among most politicians and intellectuals.
    TU NE CEDE MALIS

    Reply

  16. rich says:

    Sweetness,
    No humor there. You’re talking about 50% of the electorate.
    True believers aren’t interested in seeing past the cheap lies, easy spin, and slick talk.
    As much as I agree w/Steve that Palin came off as a game amateur against Biden, a seasoned pro at the top of his game . . . she easily outperformed expectations. She’s savvier than many want to acknowledge, and has nailed the traditional Republican methodology cold–even if she isn’t practiced enough to pull it off at this stage of her career.
    Believe me, I see all her flaws. There are many, though, who are as blind to Gov. Palin’s faults as they were to Ronald Reagan’s failings and George Bush’s inadequacies. And those faults, as well as their policies, are the same in many respects.
    If she can turn out the base, and indications are that she can, the vote returns may be closer than we think.
    Unless moderate Republicans reject John McCain on the basis of John McCain’s qualifications. Not Sarah Palin’s.

    Reply

  17. Garden Nymph says:

    Steve, thankyou so much for your blow-by-blow commentary on this debate, and for your involvement in Vienna whilst there.
    You basically got me involved in politics.
    Watching Palin makes me want regurgitate. I don’t know where she gets off “representing” women and womens rights, or even liberty. Her obvious nationalistic perspective will be an embarrassing and conflicting downfall when it comes to foreign affairs which she is not only ignorant of but also insensitive to.
    Whether “you” (the general public) are interested in or detest foreigners and the idea of foreign affairs, America needs and may always need strong allies not only to support them but to aid them, -and perhaps, at times, guide them! (as Biden mentioned when “talks” were urged for the past 5 years).
    When Palin talked about America being ‘exceptional’, I thought this would be easily construed as a positive and supportive Pro-America statement. But it worried me as it sounded to me that she honestly thinks that America is the best country in the world.
    (total personal opinion):
    For those of you who are proud to be American; there’s nothing wrong with that. But when you are a leader of a country, you ought to at least be humble enough to respect other countries and other leaders. I am not at all convinced that she would make America look ‘exceptional’.

    Reply

  18. Vexed in Vienna says:

    Gwen Ifill let Palin skate. Palin even had the gall to announce she wasn’t answering the questions. Maybe times have changed, but I didn’t think that was permitted.
    I really miss Tim Russert! Imagine how it would have gone if he had been moderating. Sigh….

    Reply

  19. Philippe Ohlund says:

    Nice post, Steve! 🙂
    You write concerning Joe Biden: “Very uplifting and powerful from Biden”.
    I quote you on my latest post. 🙂
    I must admit that you have very eloquent people in America.
    Best wishes and God bless

    Reply

  20. Sweetness says:

    Rich writes: “For those willing to overlook Palin’s tenuous grasp of
    issues, her amateur status, & desire to ignore reality—or who are
    intent on voting McCain regardless of VP—she probably didn’t do
    damage to her cause.”
    Nice touch of humor there, Rich

    Reply

  21. Sweetness says:

    Liz: “Sarah Palin scares the crap out of me. I can only hope
    McCain/Palin goes down in flames and she scuttles back to Alaska
    never to appear on the national stage again. I fear, however she
    will be back and next time she won’t sound like the amateur she is
    now. She has the potential to become George Bush on steroids and
    God help us all if she ever goes near the White House in any official
    capacity.”
    Never one to content myself with current worries, I, too, worry
    about this a lot. Rich has spoken to this point in various ways, too.
    Put a few more coats of paint on her and she’ll be good to go.

    Reply

  22. Kathleen says:

    Viktor…I’m with you… this was a snoozer …I’m reluctant to refer to last night’s exchange of canned comments as a “debate” or symphony….but rather a cacophony of pre-chewed MRE’s in the “Food for Thought” department.
    Palin’s mental meanderings caused my eyes to glaze over and every time I found myself in a dead end cul de sac…Novacaine for the brain….
    Biden at least made sense and a few points…I wish he hadn’t been looking down so much…it gave him a hang dog look….I do like him, although I haven’t always agreed with him….

    Reply

  23. rich says:

    Steve,
    Your analysis is right on. I had the same reaction, overall and on specific points.
    Biden’s mastery of issues and data, poise, and willingness to engage Palin & McCain respectfully was excellent. Relaxed without holding back on challenging McCain. Performing better running as a VeeP than as a Przntl candidate.
    Palin was more poised and articulate than many expected, I think. Not an easy job to push Republican interests, put up a good front on the record, catapult the propaganda, and run against Washington.
    For those willing to overlook Palin’s tenuous grasp of issues, her amateur status, & desire to ignore reality—or who are intent on voting McCain regardless of VP—she probably didn’t do damage to her cause.
    Palin’s turning out big crowds at campaign stops, according to the Lehrer Report last night. They’re coming to see her, not John McCain: some of the crowd leaves after he’s introduced.
    Palin’s body language was dominant at the RNC when onstage with McCain–interesting. She’s a little more dangerous and a has more potential than many want to admit. Agree she has to work on delivery and master responses that satisfy rather than evade.

    Reply

  24. Paul Norheim says:

    Quote from the last of the two links above given by “Spanish”:
    “Y ahí, McCain fue mucho mejor que Obama. Como explicaba
    anoche, mientras seguía el debate, Steven Clemons —un
    republicano de centro que ahora apoya a los demócratas— en su
    blog político ‘The Washington Note’, “Obama está reaccionando,
    no liderando”.
    Un republicano de centro?
    His he refering to the years at the Nixon Center, Steve?

    Reply

  25. Steve Hunt says:

    Someone needs to show Palin Reagan’s comments on the Osirak attack.

    Reply

  26. David says:

    Steve’s analysis rings true. And Biden did win for Obama tonight, even though all he had to do was not lose because momentum is clearly on Obama’s side. The narrative that Palin did not botch the show damns with faint praise, although one could see on display the skills that enabled her to win a beauty pageant and the governorship of Alaska, population 675,000, or thereabouts, a state without a fiscal crisis.
    All she likely accomplished was to calm the people who are committed to McCain. I cannot see how she changed the trajectory of the election, which could well be headed toward an electoral landslide by American standards. I personally suspect tonight was the coda to her erratic 15 minutes.

    Reply

  27. eberit says:

    Many of us political junkies don’t realize that this is probably the first time that many of the debate viewers have seen Joe Biden in action. This was most likely viewed by more Americans than last weeks debate. I know that many of my aquaintances were blown away by Biden tonight (this was a bar situation) and one friend asked why he isn’t the presidential candidate (he now is motivated to vote). Point being Biden was the man and Palin was considered a cute amateur. Biden was also given points for gentlemanly behavior. I believe Biden resonates with the undecides/independents.

    Reply

  28. Liz says:

    Sarah Palin scares the crap out of me. I can only hope McCain/Palin goes down in flames and she scuttles back to Alaska never to appear on the national stage again. I fear, however she will be back and next time she won’t sound like the amateur she is now. She has the potential to become George Bush on steroids and God help us all if she ever goes near the White House in any official capacity.

    Reply

  29. Jason says:

    Palin will not be doing another interview with a
    non-conservative reporter for the rest of the
    campaign. That was what her comment about the MSM
    at the end was about. The Couric interviews
    revealed her big weakness is follow-up questions,
    and she will do everything she can from now on to
    avoid them.

    Reply

  30. Paul Norheim says:

    That Sarah Palin wanted the Senate to grant more authority to the
    Vice President was really alarming. I guess she must have felt
    sorry for poor Dick during the last eight years, how he got
    attacked for being the real power behind the president. How
    unfair!
    Now she wants that power for herself: why leave Alaska just to
    waste four years attending funerals in foreign countries, as in the
    pre-Cheney years?

    Reply

  31. What Grief Is Good? says:

    Tom Friedman??? A good journalist??? One capable of moderating a
    debate??? Goebbels would have been proud of Friedman. What has
    happened to critical thinking in this country…??????

    Reply

  32. Dan Kervick says:

    It seemed to me that the two expressions Biden used the most tonight were “John McCain” and “Barack Obama”. He mentioned those names incessantly, in every answer. His inherent message was that this election, including tonight’s discussion, is not really about Joe Biden or Sarah Palin; it is about Barack Obama and John McCain. And he brought every question back to the central Obama message that the Bush administration has been a disaster, that John McCain is a continuation of the Bush administration, and that it is time for a change in the person of Barack Obama.
    He really got very little resistance from Palin as he pushed this message, and succeeded brilliantly in turning the debate into something that wasn’t quite a debate at all, but a sort of joint press conference in which Biden was able to reflect at unrefuted length, with little pushback from Palin, on the failures of George Bush, on the similarities between Bush and McCain, and on the sheer implausibility of the notion that McCain represents change.
    McCain is losing, and Sarah Palin’s job tonight was to make the point that McCain is not Bush, and can be looked to to bring in a new era of reform, restored confidence, or something like that. She wasn’t at all effective in doing that job. She should have challenged Biden vigorously every time he tried to tie McCain to Bush, and look to build up McCain’s “maverick” cred. But while she said the word “maverick” a lot, she spoke in generalities and didn’t back it up with substantive points to show that McCain is different from Bush. She almost seemed happy to acquiesce in that point, despite the fact that Bush is at 16% approval in the polls.
    Palin herself was reasonably well composed, and didn’t commit any gaffes. But she simply failed to make any persuasive case for electing John McCain. And that after all was what she was there to do.
    Biden’s demeanor and treatment of Palin were spot on, I thought. He was firm, but natural, courteous and respectful, and simply didn’t get drawn into anything that would have made the debate a Biden vs. Palin story.
    I thought he really sealed the deal with the nexus of Middle East issues: Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon and Israel. He was very clear and cogent, and while Palin seemed content to rest the McCain case on a vague military allure and a promise to win the Iraq War, Biden kept looking to the broader strategic pirposes of US policy, and the problems Iraq has caused for it. I’m fairly certain that the public agrees with Obama and Biden, in substantial numbers, so I’m surprised to see McCain and Palin so willing to go down stubbornly with the Iraq ship.

    Reply

  33. Lurker says:

    Steve, you are a great analyst. I saw this just like you did. I can’t believe you are still awake over their in Europe.
    Good job. Sharp analysis. Gwen Ifill was soo weak. Everyone is saying it on the blogs, but you got it out there first.
    Thanks for this Steve. I’m thrilled as always to read your insights.

    Reply

  34. Mr.Murder says:

    Biden delivered a TKO.
    Sometimes he got a bit wordy though.
    He actually neutralized Palin’s attempted life story bit with his own experiences.
    He ran laps around her on merit. “He sounded Presidential” should be the opening statement of anyone who viewed the debate.
    Palin sounded like she was still a good choice for PTA.

    Reply

  35. WigWag says:

    Viktor is absolutely right, Gwen Ifill was awful. She didn’t ask probing questions, she didn’t pursue intelligent follow-upsa. She represents everything wrong with the media.
    She is nursing a broken ankle so maybe that’s an excuse. But she seems to be selected as a moderator in these debates every four years. It’s time for her to be retired from this role.
    The real question is, is there even one intelligent journalist in America who can moderate an intelligent debate? If the selection of moderators is limited to television journalists the answer is probably no.
    Two print journalists who should be given a chance to moderate debates are Tom Friedman and Jim Fallows.
    They couldn’t do any worse than Ifill. They might do alot better.

    Reply

  36. DonS says:

    Palin must have had a cheat sheet. Her answers, when “substantive” sounded rote. Biden’s sounded spontaneous and informed.
    Biden wins on substance. Palin got over the minimum bar.
    Biden avoided condescending and attacking the “woman”. Palin was unreservedly condescending and dismissive and attacked with cliche after cliche or concern for offending.
    Now we go back to the disaster that is the previous program. The economy, the war, the record of Cheney/Bush.

    Reply

  37. Linda says:

    No major goofs–no game changer. But kudos to Gwen Ifill who was attacked by right blogosphere right before this debate. As noted above, the format was set for them all in advance. But I don’t think anyone could accuse Ifill of being biased in any way.
    On to the next debate on Tuesday that will be more important.

    Reply

  38. rich says:

    Large enthusiastic crowds have been turning out to see Sarah Palin on the campaign trail, according to Kate Zernicke (of the NYTs on tonight’s Lehrer Report). Some’ve been heading for the door after Palin introduces John McCain.
    They’re coming to see Gov. Palin. She’s the sizzle, and there’s a good chance she could turn out the base in November.
    As predicted, Palin went after Wall Street, Washington and the Bush administration, running against D.C. even though she & McCain are toeing the party line.
    Richard Norton Smith just now: “we won’t konw for awhile whether Sarah Palin was refreshingly Reaganesque or Gidget goes to Washington.”

    Reply

  39. Mary says:

    “Ifill was a rubbish moderator. Absolutely terrible. There was no
    engagement between the candidates. Just two candidates
    regurgitating stump speeches. This wasn’t a debate. It was a
    symphony of talking points.”
    That wasn’t Ifill’s fault – the format was hammered out by the campaigns. McCain insisted on this format to help conceal Palin’s lack of a functioning brain.

    Reply

  40. viktor says:

    Ifill was a rubbish moderator. Absolutely terrible. There was no
    engagement between the candidates. Just two candidates
    regurgitating stump speeches. This wasn’t a debate. It was a
    symphony of talking points.
    Biden had so many opportunities to go after Palin, and chose to be
    Mr. Cordial. He treated Palin like his Mother.
    Palin’s voice grates on my nerves. Biden’s is like silk.
    Overall though, this was a snoozer of a debate.

    Reply

  41. What Grief Is Good? says:

    Palin just talked about freedom — I’m on a special screening list
    when I fly — why??? I have no f*cking idea — except– because of
    the “War on Terror” anyone who questions the government is on
    that list.
    PALIN– WHERE IS MY FREEDOM???
    John King is already talking about the polls going for Palin when
    the debate just ended.

    Reply

  42. rich says:

    “Wow…Palin just said Ahmadenijad, Kim Jong Il, and the Castro brothers — she’s been studying.”
    Yeah. She won’t need Barack Obama to help her pronounce “Ahmadenijad” when she’s President, unlike John McCain.
    Fascinating debate.

    Reply

  43. PissedOffAmerican says:

    We oughta just give these posturing pieces of shit baseball bats, and let them womp the hell out of each other. It would be just as constructive as their constant finger pointing and partisan bickering.
    This business about Israel merely makes known that there will be no change in policy in the ME no matter which candidate gets in.
    Palin is doing much better than one would have expected in this debate. If it wasn’t for her actions as Mayor and Governor, one could almost buy into her guile and horseshit. But a careful examination of her past reveals her to be a vindictive bitch, who abuses power, and has done more than her fair share of fucking people over to amass and retain that power. And her manuevering to impede the troopergate investigation reveals the actions of someone who believes themselve to be above the law. After eight years of these criminals in the Bush Administration, the LAST thing this nation needs is a leader that has already shown a disdain for the law. Why would any sane American, with a respect for the rule of law, vote for someone that is actively showing disdain for the law, even while campaigning?

    Reply

  44. Michael says:

    She’s going to get away with it tonight.

    Reply

  45. the718 says:

    what about biden’s botox?

    Reply

  46. What Grief Is Good? says:

    Ahmadinejad is NOT in control of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran
    does not have nuclear weapons, nor does it have delivery
    systems. Israel is not our ally, by Israel’s choice.
    Palin just said “standing up for women’s rights” when she as
    mayor of Wasilla did not stop the law that stopped women
    having to pay for their own rape kits.
    OK, Biden is being sane –he just mentioned that Ahmadinejad
    does not have control. Pigs are flying…
    Now Palin’s sucking up to the Israel lobby — she just said that
    “Israel is a “peace-seeking nation”
    Now Biden is trying out-suck Israel’s c*ck.
    F*ck Israel.
    Hezbollah was founded as freedom fighters in Lebanon, after
    Israel’s multiple invasions.
    Biden is saying we must back Israel – WHY???
    Sarah Palin said that she was so glad that both parties back
    Israel.
    F*ck Israel.

    Reply

  47. WigWag says:

    Sarah Palin=Stepford Wife

    Reply

  48. PissedOffAmerican says:

    If she ain’t interested in finding our what CAUSES climate change, how does the ignorant shrew expect to reverse or slow the process??
    Biden gets it.
    Google “Lake Lucille” if you wanna see what kind of custodian to the environment Palin is.

    Reply

  49. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, Palin doesn’t seem to wanna answer any of the questions. Perhaps, when she gets back to Alaska, it might not be so easy to dodge the questions…..
    GOP Suit To Halt Trooper-Gate Suit Dismissed
    By Zachary Roth – October 2, 2008, 9:12PM
    An Alaska judge dismissed a suit brought by state GOP legislators that aimed to stop the Trooper-Gate investigation.
    Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski found that “it is legitimately within the scope of the legislature’s investigatory power to inquire into the circumstances of surrounding the termination of a public officer the legislature had previously confirmed.”
    continues at….
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/

    Reply

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