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October 02, 2008

Comments

That thing Palin does of, "No, I'm going to condescend to you" drives me only half as nuts as it does Mrs. D.

"we all tend to underestimate what a tremendous asset it is to have nominated a war opponent"

...including, alas, the Obama campaign, which decided to nominate a war-supporter for VP.

(Although, to be defensive for a moment, the clearer-contrast-than-Kerry was a pro-Obama argument I heard a lot during the primary, so I don't think people underestimate it; it's just that it's the background now so it's less commented on.)

Could somebody explain the context for the "only been at this for five weeks" remark"? It's quoted on one of the live blogs I've been following but with no explanation. Did palin say thta? What was she referring to?

Could somebody explain the context for the "only been at this for five weeks" remark"? It's quoted on one of the live blogs I've been following but with no explanation. Did palin say thta? What was she referring to?

As I see it this debate is going to play out and things will stay exactly as they are now. And I consider this a win for Team Obama.

The partisans on either side have already made up their minds, Dems will think Biden did great and Republicans will think that Palin went out there and won the hearts of all the small-town "just-folks" people.

The undecideds, though, will have seen little to move them strongly in either direction. Since Palin hugely improved from her Couric interview performances some of the bleeding will have stopped, and by next week Palin will be back burner through the end of the campaign.

McCain and Obama will move back to the forefront with their next debate coming up in a mere five days. The more that Obama and McCain are the focus of the news the happier the Obama campaign will be. The current economic situation is causing people to break for Obama. And with McCain ceding Michigan the paths for him to get to 270 are increasingly narrow.

I'm sure that there will be some sort of October surprise that won't be as favorable to Obama as the current climate is, though, so I guess I should try to check my optimism. But I never felt this optimistic during Kerry's campaign. I hope that I don't feel foolish five weeks from now.

Unless 10 point wins make you feel foolish, I think you'll be fine.

Also, I think that Palin's weak answers won't hurt her, even among undecided voters. That bar has already been lowered. And after all, do you really think there's a very high percentage of people who have any clue about how the VP's role is defined in the Constitution?

@wonkie:

I can't remember exactly to quote, but basically, it was in response to a question asking which of the candidates' promises would have to be broken in response to the economic crisis, and she said that she'd only been at it for 5 weeks and hadn't made any promises to break, or something to that effect.

Also, I think that Palin's weak answers won't hurt her, even among undecided voters. That bar has already been lowered.

See, I disagree. Those answers will hurt precisely because the bar had been lowered. People had been hearing about and watching a candidate that looked out of her league, unprepared for the presidency and generally lacking in knowledge of vital issues.

Her weak answers reinforced that. No, she didn't implode. Not by a long shot. But I think that, ultimately, undecideds are looking for something more. Something substantive and reassuring. That they didn't get, and the early poll numbers are bearing that out.

The undecideds' reaction depends on why they're still undecided.

If they honestly can't tell the difference between the two tickets at this point, they're idiots and I have no idea what their decision making process is like. Maybe they'll flip a coin on Nov 4.

If they honestly think both tickets have something to recommend themselves, it's likely to come down to who is more likely to deliver on what they say. I think - hope - that intelligence, competence and, hell, basic awareness of the world will matter to them, in which case Biden won hands down.

If they wanted to support McCain/Palin, and just needed some assurance that Palin isn't completely the empty-headed cipher of the Couric interview, then I guess they're reassured. (If they were leaning that way anyway, her brazen mendacity and bottomless ignorance don't bother them.)

Anyone who ponders the possibility that Palin might wind up becoming President due to McCain's incapacity or death, and isn't incredulously scornful at the very thought, is someone who doesn't think the Presidency matters very much. I know there are such people, but I doubt there are enough of them to be statistically meaningful.

I'm going to have to reassess my opinion of independent undecideds in view of the polling results. According to the pols and pundit quotes posted on Daily kos Biden won. She came off as a lightweight. He came off as being more in touch with the ordinary person. So I thought the narratie would be that she won since she didn't clearly make a fool of herslef. So far that doesnn't seem to be the reaction from either pundits, focus groups or polls.

If the narrative holds this will be a debate where subastance triumphed over style.

Can I get a translation on this:

"Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president's agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we'll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation. And it is my executive experience that is partly to be attributed to my pick as V.P. with McCain, not only as a governor, but earlier on as a mayor, as an oil and gas regulator, as a business owner. It is those years of experience on an executive level that will be put to good use in the White House also."

I am sorry, I can't get over the gibberish, I just keep thinking of the end of Billy Madison. I was relieved when Cafferty lost it the other day in regards to her bumbling, if I gave a Palin answer to my boss at work, let's just say I would have more time to comment on blogs.

Here's my favorite part:

IFILL: Next question, Governor Palin, still on the economy. Last year, Congress passed a bill that would make it more difficult for debt-strapped mortgage-holders to declare bankruptcy, to get out from under that debt. This is something that John McCain supported. Would you have?

PALIN: Yes, I would have. But here, again, there have -- there have been so many changes in the conditions of our economy in just even these past weeks that there has been more and more revelation made aware now to Americans about the corruption and the greed on Wall Street.

We need to look back, even two years ago, and we need to be appreciative of John McCain's call for reform with Fannie Mae, with Freddie Mac, with the mortgage-lenders, too, who were starting to really kind of rear that head of abuse.

And the colleagues in the Senate weren't going to go there with him. So we have John McCain to thank for at least warning people. And we also have John McCain to thank for bringing in a bipartisan effort people to the table so that we can start putting politics aside, even putting a campaign aside, and just do what's right to fix this economic problem that we are in.

It is a crisis. It's a toxic mess, really, on Main Street that's affecting Wall Street. And now we have to be ever vigilant and also making sure that credit markets don't seize up. That's where the Main Streeters like me, that's where we would really feel the effects.

I really hate people "who were starting to really kind of rear that head of abuse."

I'm watching highlights, and I'm noticing that Sarah Palin blinked. A lot.

90 minutes of Palin unbound was more than enough for me, although I guess some people like all that gushy, general, pandering to the base sort of nonsense.


Her weak answers reinforced that. No, she didn't implode. Not by a long shot. But I think that, ultimately, undecideds are looking for something more. Something substantive and reassuring. That they didn't get, and the early poll numbers are bearing that out.

Agreed. Tonight didn't reinforce the narrative created by the Couric interviews, but I don't see how it did much to dramatically change those perceptions either. The old saying is that you never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression, and I think that as a result of the Couric interviews (and the additional publicity given to them by SNL) that Gov. Palin is not nearly as much of a blank slate to voters as she was at the RNC and in the immediate aftermath.

Also, I wonder how many people out there were taking in her very high energy and somewhat rushed approach to spitting out answers and thinking - yeah I want to listen to 4 straight years of that on my TV. I found 90 straight minutes of it to be exhausting - that style is a much better fit to discrete segments of 30 min news show split up by commercial breaks and it didn't wear well over time. The repetitions of her favorite lines ("maverick", "reform", "fer sure", "you betcha") and winks at the camera piled up and became more obvious as the night went on, and repetition drained some of the folksy charm out of them and made them look less sincere and more rehearsed. It was like watching a magician perform the same trick too many times in a row.

It took the commentariat on TV about a day to latch on to McCain's no-eye-contact tic.

It will take them about a day to catch up on Palin's "also" tic.

They're slow, but they're simple.

The spinners will spin, but a new mash-up of the Miss South Carolina contestant and also Sarah Palin will be on YouTube in about an hour, and on TV tomorrow also. And that will be that for Palin. And McCain, also.

--TP

zer0- Yeah, when I heard that, I just went, "Huh?" I found it incredibly funny, though, when Palin tried to pass her lack of knowledge of what the VP does as a joke.

LeftTurn- Also, I wonder how many people out there were taking in her very high energy and somewhat rushed approach to spitting out answers and thinking - yeah I want to listen to 4 straight years of that on my TV.

It became a chore to listen to her after 10 minutes or so. She speaks just as you described, but even worse, there isn't any substance behind it, just talking points and gibberish. My IQ probably fell a couple points because of her.

A couple of general thoughts. First, Biden did a terrific job. He came across as knowledgeable and competent. Biden didn't sound mean and he focused his criticism on McCain, so he didn't come across as a bully. All in all, I'm very impressed with Joe Biden tonight.

Second, Sarah Palin was incredibly annoying. Every other sentence was about her (The others where vapid non-answers that sounded like a pageant contestant). Her narcissism was terribly grating. I also thought she was a lot like McCain: aggressive, rude, and with a disregard for the facts. My sister described her as 'catty,' and that doesn't seem too far off the mark.

Without getting too deeply into the Macchiavellian weeds, the "five weeks" answer rather fascinated me. To be sure, it could be entirely a dodge, and heaven knows Palin's not up for any introspection prizes, but it seemed to me during the debate that while Palin was perfectly happy to praise McCain (mostly with meaningless words such as Meverick or Bipartisan, but it still functioned as praise), She doesn't want to be held responsible for him, or identified too closely with him. So in five weeks of largely cloistered campaigning she hasn't promised much, and she isn't interested in McCain's promises. You saw this also in her frankly shocking answer to the "what if you're veep and the President dies?" question. The correct answer is always, always to say that you will carry on their legacy, that you're running on a ticket with shared values. Instead, Palin said she was too much of a Maverick to care about McCain's unfinished work. And she seemed to relish the question. Think maybe she's planning ahead?

Zer0, as with her confusion confirming the Constitutional right to privacy but saying the states should decide (in the Couric interview), the answer on the role-of-the-veep question can be clearly interpreted: she could not pass a high school civics class. I thought Biden's comments on the job of the veep were Excellent; hers would be frightening if I thought they meant something.

I think what it comes down to is that the Republican talking points just aren't that complicated. In fact, they're designed to be that way. If a reasonably intelligent person couldn't memorize enough of them in a few weeks to pull the wool over the eyes of all the rest of the drooling idiots in the country, I'd be surprised. My guess: McCain's numbers bounce.

warren, your 12:06 touched on something I just started to suspect: in the waning days of this campaign, with Obama starting to open up a lead, Palin's interests are no longer identical with McCain's. Palin was far less aggressive than the pre-debate hype had led us to expect; consequently, I think she did herself more good (in terms of her viability as a future Republican leader) than she did McCain.

When she winked at the camera, I wanted to vomit.

I thought Palin was effective on attacking Biden for supporting the war.

Biden said that he accepted Bush's argument that Authorizing the Use of Military Force was a way to pressure Saddam into accepting weapons inspections. Palin's response was that she couldn't understand Bush's argument. Which is to say, Palin was admitting that she has even less of a grasp of diplomacy than George Bush does.

I'm watching highlights, and I'm noticing that Sarah Palin blinked. A lot.

I initially thought she was just scared, but my wife noted that Palin was instructed not to be too 'Tina Fey'. So my take is that she was simply trying really hard not to be a charachure of herself here.

Gov. Palin is still a sportscaster in everything but title. This is not a compliment.

How many undecided or soft-support voters do you think will be able to hear the word "maverick" without snickering, after listening to this debate tonight?

How many do you think would have had that reaction before this debate?

On the bright side, at least Governor Palin probably once saw a movie, or even read a book about the Civil War:

[...] Mrs. Palin said that the general had called for more troops – in essence, a “surge” - and said the counterinsurgency strategy that had reduced the violence in Iraq could also work in Afghanistan.
In citing the general’s remarks, Mr. Biden did not name him. Mrs. Palin referred to him as “McClellan.” The commander is Army Gen. David D. McKiernan.
If Governor Palin succeeds to the Presidency, perhaps she can request General Grant be put in charge of Central Command.

Many commenters on many blogs are criticizing Ifill for letting Palin not answer debate questions, for letting her use cheat sheets, and for ignoring her obvious gaffes, inaccuracies, and untruths.

There are a lot of reasons Ifill would have given Palin that much leeway, and none are particularly complimentary to Ifill.

But one thing it would have accomplished, perhaps deliberately, perhaps inadvertently, is that no one can claim Palin was bullied or treated badly. She was able to ignore questions she didn't want to answer, say pretty much whatever she wanted, and not get called out on, well, anything - by the moderator, I mean; Biden did quite well on that head.

In other words, she lost, and lost big-time, in probably the easiest Presidential campaign debate ever.

... Palin was instructed not to be too 'Tina Fey'. So my take is that she was simply trying really hard not to be a charachure of herself here.

Well, she certainly failed at that when she winked.

That would all be great solace if I didn't think that Republican hacks everywhere weren't about to throw a huge temper tantrum about how unfair Ifill was, facts be damned.

And that is not mentioning the fact that the post debate moderators seemed to agree with the polls that Biden won on points, though not a knockout. I have no doubt that this will be pointed out as the MSM being in the tank.

Reality has a well known liberal bias.

I was pleasantly surprised that Biden did not attempt to spring and leap over both podia to strangle Palin, to stop her from babbling on in that irritating fake-folksy tone of voice.

On reflection, where I recognize that tone of voice from is Peggy Noonan.

Another modest proposal*: Keep a herd of mavericks backstage and let them stampede any speaker at the end that overuses the term. Size of the stampede depending on overuse.
Fully grown bulls when term is used more than 10 times!

*In Gulliver's Travels Swift proposed a speech limit: No noun may be used without the actual item being present. So, no use of "maverick" in absence of a bovine and every BS can be answered with a thrown cowpat.

Lost in the debate coverage, Palin and Biden answered yet one last set of questions from Katie Couric, which was shown on last night's news.

The choices of favorite movies says it all.

Gary- A little OT-ish, but my thoughts on your post. Ambition is sometimes a good thing, but Sarah Palin's (and McCain's, for that matter) version is winning at any cost.

I'm not a religious guy, but it reminds me of http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mark%208:36&version=31>Mark 8:36.

"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"

Country first my ass.

I LOVED it when Biden slammed her at the end about the role of the vice president. I loved his rant about Cheney claim to be part of the legislative branch, it was succinct and passionate. He sounded authoritative and genuinely disgusted. The contrast between his remarks and Palin BSing. It was my favorite moment of the debate, he really got her.

tfan- It was my favorite moment of the debate, he really got her.

I agree that it was a great moment, but what struck me about it was that Biden, while obviously upset, wasn't a bully. Biden was a gentleman and he came across as a genuinely good person. I think the impression he left as a level-headed but passionate guy was the key to the debate.

Where her gaffes with Couric pretty clearly displayed an utter lack of knowledge about damned near everything -- and certainly everything I'd want a president to know -- a number of her gaffes tonight that have been mentioned here and elsewhere are ones I'm willing to forgive, because (frankly) they're analogous to goofs I've made -- genuine "misspeakings" (as opposed to the way "misspoke" has come to be used in politics).

E.g., "McClellan" instead of "McKiernan." I was on the radio a few years back talking about the then-current movie "The Alamo" and managed to conflate Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie and hence refer to Billy Bob Thornton playing David Bowie. Luckily for me, everyone else on the show cracked up so totally that we had to stop tape, which meant that we could back up ten seconds and redo that part. (Now the show goes out live, and I'm just waiting for my next grade-A blunder.)

Same thing with the "mess on Main St. that's now hurting Wall St." gaffe, which Josh Marshall seem to think was almost Couric-interview-level. I've gotten stuff reversed like that, as well.

But, to pick on an even more trivial mistake....

Will someone please tell Palin what "attribute" means? I.e., exactly the opposite of what she thinks it does. She got it backwards with Couric and then twice more tonight. This is not "misspeaking"; this is basically having the meaning ass-backward.

Again, I can't feel vastly superior on this. I didn't find out until sometime in my mid-30s that I had "comprise" backwards. And I'm pretty sure I consistently (if infrequently) misused "beg the question" until some blogger/ethicist explained it to me.

Still there were several instances of near-Couric-level gibberish tonight, including the one posted by zer0 at 11:48 pm and then (to a slightly lesser extent) the one in the following post. As others have pointed out, the difference is that Ifill couldn't or wouldn't press her on them the way Couric did (or even Gibson did on the Bush doctrine).

Finally, Palin's speaking drives me crazy: there's the chipper-speak and its cousin, the flirty, aren't-I-just-so-cute mannerisms; there's the unprepared-student-who-can't-even-bs-effectively content; there's the flat regional accent (which I'd like to think *wouldn't* bother me in another context).

I've been trying to figure out what movie/TV character it reminds me of. All the gee-gosh-whillikers stuff makes me see Marge from Fargo, though the accent isn't precisely the same. But there's also something off about her cadence/pitch/rhythm, particularly when she's getting lost in one of those thickets of memorized points, and the sentence (if it can be called such) is rambling on. Near the end of tonight's debate, I think I finally identified it: Andrea Martin as Edna Boil on SCTV. "Tex and Edna Boil's Organ Emporium and Prairie Warehouse buy an organ take home a budgie..." It's like the natural rhythm of the words is at odds with the pauses and tone.


This election will be (I hope) the Revenge of the Nerds. Johnny the Jerk and Spunky Sarah were (and still are) the "popular" kids who sat in the back of the class in high school, mocking and throwing spitballs at the kids who listened to the teacher and actually studied for the tests.

They scraped by and passed the tests (with C's and D's) because Johnny had family connections and Sarah was adept at flirting with the teachers (wink! wink!).

Maybe it would have worked in 2000, but now that we've finally maxed out our national credit card, Americans are sobering up. It's doubtful that a majority of voters will fall for their narcissistic bafflegab.

Republicans have been successful at fake folksy for years but this year it doens't seem to be working. That Senator Jim Webb defeated --Allen?--had a whole good 'ol boy act going even though his whole life was the opposite. And Bush is the obvious example of fake man of the people.

And Mr. Seven Houses and Fifteen Cars who said just yesterday on the news that he isn't rich.

My take away from the debates is that Crazy Sarah's coaches told her "Memorize this" and had her rehearse some "folksy " mannerisms--speak to the camera, wink, smile and pretend to be a nice person, tell personal experience stories etc etc--the kind of crap that has worked in the past.

But doesn't seem to have worked this time.

"My take away from the debates is that Crazy Sarah's coaches told her 'Memorize this' and had her rehearse some 'folksy' mannerisms--speak to the camera, wink, smile and pretend to be a nice person, tell personal experience stories etc etc--the kind of crap that has worked in the past."

That's obviously not true, since she used all those mannerisms in her gubnatorial debates. She didn't need to rehearse or told to use what's always worked for her.

MeDrewNotYou - yeah, he was very gracious, not bullying at all. His knowledge spoke for itself. He authoritatively and succinctly describes the office of the Vice President. In contrast Palin is going through her usual high-school-student-who-didn't-do-the-homework routine. So obvious she doesn't know the role of the VP - the office that she's running for!!!

From Joe Klien on Swampland:

She was animated and confident. She displayed an ability, for the first time since her convention speech, to repeat with a fair amount of credibility, the formulations that her handlers had given her. You knew she was well prepared when practically the first words out of her mouth were, "Go to a kids' soccer game..." She had that folksy thing down—although I did notice, watching the squiggly lines down at the bottom of the CNN screen, that when she tried to get cutesy with her folksiness, it didn't work.

"The formulations her handlers had given her"

So I'm not the only one who thinks she spent her prep time memorizing her lines. She had to learn new lines since the ones she learned for running for governor wouldn't work.

"So I'm not the only one who thinks she spent her prep time memorizing her lines."

Of course she did, as regards issues.

Judging the debate loosely, I'd call it a tie -- he didn't hurt Obama, she didn't hurt McCain.

Palin seems to have one thing going for her: authenticity, a certain "gee-gosh-whillikers" charisma, as Andy upthread put it, that either you find endearing or annoys the hell out of you.

Biden was impressive; I thought his answers were to the level that he should have been debating McCain. And he never came off as Mr. Know-It-All.

One last thing: On the subject of gay marriage/gay rights -- and this is simply going by her body language -- I thought Palin looked like she was saying, "Yuk."

OK...I have to jump in on the discussion of the VP authorities part of the debate.

First, I about jumped out of my seat when she started blathering about how the Constitution gives all this authority and flexibility to the VP.

But, I'm still reeling from that whole exchange. One, I can't believe she chose to basically inject this unprompted into the debate. Then, to deliberately side with DICK CHENEY, the most unpopular politician in America just seemed downright retarded - did the McCain campaign actually green light this talking point???

I know this won't have much play with the average voter - though I think this largely the fault of the media who could easily discuss this in a non-complicated or technical way, but won't - but am I alone in thinking this was the single most important part of the debate? What could be more relevant to a VP debate than exploring the question of whether or not the last eight years of expanded VP power is justified/constitutional/desirable?

OK...I don't post much, but I had to rant for a bit. And since I'm mostly a lurker, I also want to take a second and tip my hat to the whole ObWi community...Probably my favorite blog for the excellent blogging by publius, hilzoy, and Eric Martin combined with civil, thoughtful, discourse and discussion in the comments section.

BTW, did anyone else notice Biden's gaffe last night when he cited Article I of the constitution as defining the Executive branch?

In Gulliver's Travels Swift proposed a speech limit: No noun may be used without the actual item being present.

That would make discussion of foreign policy difficult. How could the candidates talk about foreign countries if they had to be physically present in the room? Would they be able to get Vladimir Putin or Osama bin Laden to show up just so they could discuss them?

" On the subject of gay marriage/gay rights -- and this is simply going by her body language -- I thought Palin looked like she was saying, "Yuk.""

Agreed. She conspicuously did not agree when Biden said that they both thought gays should have equal rights (though that also sounded odd after both had denounced gay marriage).

I LOVED it when Biden slammed her at the end about the role of the vice president. I loved his rant about Cheney claim to be part of the legislative branch, it was succinct and passionate. He sounded authoritative and genuinely disgusted.

that was hot. now if only he'd cited the correct Article...

For me her whole folky, gosh darn act doesn't work at all (it is nauseating). Who wants Jethro from the Beverly Hill Billies possibly running the country? For all her allegedly down-to-earth caring persona, it was most telling for me when Joe Biden choked up talking about the death of his wife and daughter and how he didn't know if his sons were going to live, and the "mom" Sarah Palin didn't even blink, didn't even acknowledge the moment. She just went right on with her folksy blather.

her frankly shocking answer to the "what if you're veep and the President dies?" question....Palin said she was too much of a Maverick to care about McCain's unfinished work. And she seemed to relish the question. Think maybe she's planning ahead?

Her most sincere comment of the whole campaign was about soccer moms and pitbulls. Make no mistake, she's VERY ambitious. She will kiss any ass she has to for as long as she has to, and then slough it off without blinking. All her praise of McCain is completely fake. Pretty much everything she says is fake. She's in it for Number One, end of story. Someone in the other thread said he felt sorry for her, being out of her depth and all. Generosity of spirit is good, but PLEASE, save the sympathty for people who deserve it. She *accepted* this position, and she did it for personal ambition's sake and nothing else. Even the most arrogant and ambitious regular politician would admit to themselves, in this situation, that they aren't really ready. Not Sarah. She is an appalling figure, although she probably appeals to other huckster-narcissists, as well, probably, as a chunk of anti-feminist women like her.

publius wrote:

I think we all tend to underestimate what a tremendous asset it is to have nominated a war opponent.

As someone for whom Obama was not a first choice in the primary, I discounted this at the time. I was wrong and publius was/is right. This was Palin's only semi-effective (substantive) moment of the night, and it made my liver shiver.

My $.02 (derivative CDS available) - a draw: which will most likely translate to bad news for the GOP. They needed, I think, for Gov. Palin to really wow the (TV) audience and specifically overcome the "complete gibbering idiot" image her prior appearances have engendered; and coming out of the debates assessed as "just OK" probably won't cut it.

I only actually saw the last 40 minutes live (quite enough thank you!) - but I was fairly underwhelmed by both candidates' performances: "dueling talking-points" is how it came across to me. But the boilerplate rhetoric and political cliches somehow came out sounding just a bit less tedious coming from Joe Biden. Just enough to make a difference.

Oh, and yeah: that smiley, chirpy, folksy "you betcha" stuff was hugely Teh Annoying. Maybe what might be expected for the Mayor of Wasilla: NOT ready for the prime-time on the national stage.

If the word is to have any positive connotation, I can't think of anything less maverick-like than self-identifying as a maverick.

Jay C:
"Oh, and yeah: that smiley, chirpy, folksy "you betcha" stuff was hugely Teh Annoying. Maybe what might be expected for the Mayor of Wasilla: NOT ready for the prime-time on the national stage."

Agreed, but how will it wash with undecided drifters??

Of course Palin dodged questions, looked fake, regurgitated talking points etc...

But I think it's a mistake to dismiss Palin's performance, even if it was vacuous.

The fact is, the VP debate wasn't the train wreck (or NASCAR pile up) most people were predicting. And while Biden was great, the story of the debate has become, "Palin didn't screw up".

Sure, she might have dodged every question put to her and reverted to talking points, but like it or not that was smart strategy, given her apparent mental faculties....

Interesting clip here shows a media coach talking about the debate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4vDcnAahAk

He describes Palin's "bridging" - seamlessly jumping from the question to the rehearsed talking points.

We've all seen it and it's frustrating but works for most viewers!

There must have been some heavy coaching this week! As well as managing down expectations of Palin's ability...

Anyway - it allowed Palin to survive and shine (depending on who you ask) as the folksy, fundie, hockey/soccer/whatever mom that the right love to love.

heh.

I think Jim Henley is right here: Palin spent waaaay too much time talking about how she was a mavericky maverick from Mavericksylvania (and a "Joe Six-pack" and whatever). She might have gotten away with it a couple times but at some point she needed to stop calling herself a "Maverick" and stick to talking about how she "doesn't understand all this fancy talk from Washington" or whatever.

"Palin seems to have one thing going for her: authenticity, a certain 'gee-gosh-whillikers' charisma,"

I don't mean to be finding things to pick on her for, but I don't see what's "authentic" about the kind of perkiness taught weather reporters and sportscasters, which is what she seems to me to have.

In the department of not picking on her, I've seen a lot of people writing as if she were clearly a crazed fundamentalist, and she doesn't strike me that way, beyond a certain point, or she's doing a great job of hiding it, if she is; she spoke up clearly and firmly for teaching evolution in school, for instance. She's a Christian, but doesn't seem to be remotely the caricature many seem to assume she is.

Can I get a translation on this:

"Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president's agenda in that position.

Sure.

Palin thinks the Cheney/Addington analysis of the Constitution is just fine, and she intends to continue, if not expand it.

Maybe that went over the heads of "average Joe and Judy" sitting at home, but I'm pretty sure every US Senator has their radar up at this point. They might be willing to bend over for Dick Cheney, but I'm not sure they are interested in extending the same deference to the honorable Governor of Alaska.

That's probably not going to help McCain.

And I'm not so sure Joe and Judy are that stupid, either.

I think both Palin and Biden met, and slightly exceeded, expectations. That means Biden came out ahead, because the bar for Palin was that she wouldn't sound like a bobblehead doll.

Palin is on the ticket to keep the social conservatives from staying home in November. She will achieve that.

But any thoughtful person will watch her performance and say "Rotary Club President? Maybe. Vice President of the US? I don't think so."

That works to Obama's advantage, because the economic fiascos of the last month have concentrated the minds of a lot of folks who would otherwise not be paying that much attention. All of a sudden, lots of folks want to know WTF is going on, and Palin's bromides are not going to satisfy.

Thanks -

"He describes Palin's "bridging" - seamlessly jumping from the question to the rehearsed talking points."

Bridging to nowhere.

He describes Palin's "bridging" - seamlessly jumping from the question to the rehearsed talking points.

Seamless? It seemed pretty seamy to me. Hell, sometimes she specifically said she was going to ignore the question and talk about what she wanted to talk about.

By the way, apologies for calling your comment "sp*m" a few days ago, YBCsteve. It looked fishy, and I hadn't seen any other comments from you.

@ YBCsteve:

Agreed, but how will it wash with undecided drifters??

Just a guess: not much, one way or another. Myself, I didn't see much in last night's VP debate that would serve to change anyone's mind one way or the other, but YMMV.

Besides, one really has to wonder, at this point in the campaign, how many "drifters" there really ARE out there? And are they a relevant-enough bloc?

First, I thought that her performance was impressive. The pressure had to be enormous but she didn’t get rattled. She had a few good lines and landed a punch or two. Her knowledge of the topics was obviously weak, but she bobbed and weaved like a pro.

With that said, the comparison with Biden was striking. On the heartbeat away question it was soccer mom vs. elder statesman all the way. I’m inclined to like her and dislike Biden, but I had to look away at times. And yes, I could go for at least a year before I hear about mavericks again.

Biden kept his cool and even managed to look like he appreciated her performance at times. She tried to get under his skin but he didn’t fall for it.

In short, Biden by a mile. Palin redeemed herself to some extent, but she does best on her own when there is no obvious point of comparison.


CaseyL: Many commenters on many blogs are criticizing Ifill for letting Palin not answer debate questions, for letting her use cheat sheets, and for ignoring her obvious gaffes, inaccuracies, and untruths.

I think she was pretty evenhanded. She tried to get Palin to respond to the actual question several times. I saw Biden looking down at notes quite a bit as well, and she ignored his obvious gaffes, inaccuracies, and untruths as well. (It’s not like she called Biden on his Article I gaffe, or his “meeting Ahmadinejad”, “clean coal”, or “McCain surprised by the mortgage crisis” misrepresentations.)

The fact is, the VP debate wasn't the train wreck (or NASCAR pile up) most people were predicting. And while Biden was great, the story of the debate has become, "Palin didn't screw up".

Most people I was reading predicted that the debate would go pretty much as it did. Every video I've seen of Palin's gubernatorial debates show her to be perfectly competent at ignoring the questions and repeating vaguely coherent and uplifting talkingpoints a bit more coherently than she managed to do with Gibson and Couric. And since many predicted in advance that the story would be "Palin didn't screw up," even that's not much of a story.

It's also worth noting that the two greatest examples of participants in presidential campaign debates "winning" by not screwing up were sitting presidents: Reagan in his second debate with Mondale and Bush in his second debate with Kerry. In both cases, the first debate performance had raised emperor's-new-clothes-like questions about sitting presidents whom the public knew and, at the time, more or less liked. That's why "not screwing up" was enough to "win." It made the first debate, in each case, seem like an off night and returned the public to their previous, well-established feelings about Reagan and Bush. Palin's in a rather different position here. Her managing not to come across as a blithering idiot suggests no more to the public than that she is not a blithering idiot. They still may not feel she's a plausible VP, let alone preferable to Biden (as snap polls, in fact, suggest).

"Another modest proposal*: Keep a herd of mavericks backstage and let them stampede any speaker at the end that overuses the term. Size of the stampede depending on overuse."

There may be a murder of crows or a gaggle of geese, but by definition there really shouldn't be a collective noun for mavericks.

Palin thinks the Cheney/Addington analysis of the Constitution is just fine, and she intends to continue, if not expand it.

I think this is highly unlikely. My strong sense is that Gov. Palin has never given the U.S. Constitution, let alone the VP's place in it, any serious thought whatsoever. And nothing in her answer suggested that she had, either.

I'll grant, however, that her record of personalizing power as Mayor and Governor suggest that she might be amenable to the Cheney/Addington understanding of the Constitution (or at least to its practical consequences) if she ended up as VP.

or “McCain surprised by the mortgage crisis” misrepresentations

How did Biden misrepresent McCain on this? I admit that I began to tune out towards the end -- partly out of boredom, partly out of embarrassment at Talking Point Barbie's utter ineptitude -- but everything he said seemed to me to be perfectly accurate.

I thought Palin came across as the annoying person who gossips loudly on her cell phone on the bus while chewing gum.

"Who wants Jethro from the Beverly Hill Billies possibly running the country?"

Other Jethros and Ellie Maes.

For a reaction to Palin's folksiness, I only just caught up to Matt Taibbi's go for the throat piece in Rolling Stone back at the Republican National Convention. Real red, or is it blue?, meat.

Hey, OCSteve, I'd be curious what you think of it. :-)

"If the word is to have any positive connotation, I can't think of anything less maverick-like than self-identifying as a maverick."

"Maverick" is one of those words that should never, ever, be self-applied.

"or 'McCain surprised by the mortgage crisis' misrepresentations.

O rly?

"It's also worth noting that the two greatest examples of participants in presidential campaign debates 'winning' by not screwing up were sitting presidents: Reagan in his second debate with Mondale and Bush in his second debate with Kerry."

Not the Carter-Reagan debate?

"There may be a murder of crows or a gaggle of geese, but by definition there really shouldn't be a collective noun for mavericks."

A contradiction of mavericks.

There may be a murder of crows or a gaggle of geese, but by definition there really shouldn't be a collective noun for mavericks.

"Ticket".

a puffery of mavericks
a ballyhoo of mavericks
an arrogance of mavericks

Anarch: How did Biden misrepresent McCain on this?

Link

The claim: Biden said McCain said he was "surprised" by the subprime mortgage crisis.

The facts: McCain's use of the word "surprised" came in response to a leading question in New Hampshire last December. At the time, he compared it to the dot-com collapse of the late 1990s, adding: "I was surprised at other times in our history. I don't know if surprised is the word." Later in the same interview, he said, "When I say 'surprised,' I'm not surprised when in capitalist systems that there's greed and excess."

I think everyone has a factcheck out this morning. Seems to be plenty of material to work with. ;)

Ummmm... that's awfully weak tea there, Steve. Got anything better?

"At the time, he compared it to the dot-com collapse of the late 1990s, adding: "I was surprised at other times in our history. I don't know if surprised is the word."

Steve, mine has video, and your "quote" leaves out McCain saying, in response to being asked about the subprime mortage problem, that he was surprised.

Questioner: "To many people, to many others, there were feelings that something was amiss, that something was going too fast, that something was a little too hot--"

McCain: "yeah."

Questioner: "--going back several years."

McCain: "yes."

Questioner: "Were you one of them or -- I mean, you're a busy guy, you're looking at a lot of things, maybe subprime mortages wasn't something you focused on every day?"

McCain shakes his head no.

Questioner: "Were you surprised?"

McCain shakes his head yes, and says "Yeah, I was surprised."

And then goes into your part of the quote.

I have to believe you didn't see this video, and went with someone else's transcript, someone who is obviously being deliberately deceptive by leaving out the relevant part.

Ta Gary. I had suspected as much, but audio is tricky when I'm at work so I didn't want to presume.

USA Today. Well, apparently those guys didn't view the video, either. Who are you going to believe, them, or your lying eyes and ears?

Based on the video Gary linked, he sure looks like he nods his head in the affirmative and says “yes” before the rest. So maybe the factcheck needs a factcheck. Not sure how to reconcile that with the fact that he supported more oversight and spoke about the risks a year before that.

On my larger point though – they both made misstatements and misrepresented the other side. There are a lot of lists out today and I guess we could pick apart each claim and counterclaim…

Not sure how to reconcile that with the fact that he supported more oversight and spoke about the risks a year before that.

One thought - I guess you can warn about something, and support trying to do something about it, and yet still be surprised when it actually comes to pass. It’s a stretch then for someone to imply that you were completely surprised and had no clue it might happen.

There may be a murder of crows or a gaggle of geese, but by definition there really shouldn't be a collective noun for mavericks.

I think we need to come up with a term for when mavericks roam in packs, as McCain and Palin insist every day.

Also, isn't a self-aware maverick actually just a contrarian?

I think this is highly unlikely. My strong sense is that Gov. Palin has never given the U.S. Constitution, let alone the VP's place in it, any serious thought whatsoever.

That may well be, but she's clearly acquired, from whatever source, a fairly expansionist view of VPOTUS's role and responsibilities.

Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that's not only to preside over the Senate and will take that position very seriously also. I'm thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president's policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are.

The Constitution says exactly this on the topic:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided

Sure smells like Cheney and Addington to me, wherever the hell she picked it up from. Who knows, maybe it just popped into her head, struck her as a neat-o idea, and thought she'd run with it.

In any case, I don't want her anywhere near the White House, or any other place where she can do any damage.

Thanks -

There may be a murder of crows or a gaggle of geese, but by definition there really shouldn't be a collective noun for mavericks.

A chaos of mavericks
A clusterf*ck of mavericks

Thanks -

I thought I was being generous judging the debate as a tie.

Watching CNN last night, longtime Republican strategist Ed Rollins -- who is usually temperate with his analysis -- pretty much said that, if McCain loses, last night's debate performance thrusts Palin as the GOP's standard-bearer in 2012.

I don't think Palin's going away, but I'd have to think there will new faces to go along with a Romney rerun.

Russell: "Who knows, maybe it just popped into her head, struck her as a neat-o idea, and thought she'd run with it."

I'd go with that.

Neat-o.

Darn right.

Wink-wink.

Who is the tall dark stranger there?
Maverick is the name.
Riding the trail to who-knows-where
Luck is his companion
Gamblin' is his game.

Smooth as the handle on a gun.
Maverick is the name.
Wild as the wind in Oregon
Blowin' up a canyon
Easier to tame.

Riverboat ring your bell.
Fare-thee-well Annabelle.
Luck is the lady that he loves the best.
Natchez to New Orleans.
Livin' on jacks and queens.
Maverick is a legend of the west.

On my larger point though – they both made misstatements and misrepresented the other side. There are a lot of lists out today and I guess we could pick apart each claim and counterclaim…

And frankly, I think we should. I also think that Palin might actually do decently by this test -- on the grounds that half of what she said was simply unparseable gibberish.

OCSteve: "Not sure how to reconcile that with the fact that he supported more oversight and spoke about the risks a year before that."

For what it's worth, he signed on to co-sponsor this bill over a year after it was introduced. Iirc, it was in the wake of the accounting scandals at Fannie and Freddie, and this seems to have briefly engaged his crusader streak. He doesn't seem to have done much after giving that speech, though: the bill died for lack of support in the Senate.

Moreover, that's his only glimmer of apparent interest in all this, until very recently. Obama, meanwhile, sponsored legislation to prohibit some of the forms of mortgage fraud that were involved in the subprime crisis two sessions running, gave speeches about it months before McCain's "surprised" video, etc.

People are making a whole lot out of McCain's co-sponsorship of that bill. It's good that he did co-sponsor it, but not nearly as good as people are saying.

Hilzoy: yes, it was after the initial scandal in 2006:

For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs--and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO's report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO's report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.

I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.

That’s a pretty explicit statement. It just doesn’t square with him saying a year later that the crisis was a “surprise”. So I can see surprise, as in still surprised it could happen, but not surprise as in he had never given it a thought.

Unless, you know, he just can’t keep track of his past positions. Which I do not rule out at all. ;)

...Palin as the GOP's standard-bearer in 2012.

I predict, in all seriousness, that Palin ends up with her own semi-political, topical talk show. She'd be a guaranteed draw and already knows how to work in front of a camera. So long as she had dominion over those working around her, her power lust would be sufficiently satisfied, she could enjoy the praise of her fans and the trappings of celebrity, she could spout off her opinions in a national setting to her hearts content, and she could make wheel barrows full of cash.

"That’s a pretty explicit statement."

To me it reads like boilerplate that was, I'm 99% sure, written by a staffer. I find the idea that John McCain (or, indeed, most Senators) personally writes this sort of thing incredibly unlikely. I'm surprised that you seem to think he wrote it himself. I'd be surprised to find that he'd ever read it.

I could, of course, be wrong. But my understanding of how most Senators work is that they'll give agreement to what their staffers propose as to how they vote, and in some important cases make up their own minds, but otherwise leave the bureaucratic details to their staff.

I've worked on too many memoirs where the "author" has no idea what "they" "wrote," to have many illusions that just because someone's name is on a statement that they wrote it. Remember how it came out that that outraged letter to Obama back in their pre-Presidential campaign days wasn't even written by McCain? Give me a reason to think this is different. The man isn't known either for writing, or personally micromanaging details.

"That’s a pretty explicit statement."

To me it reads like boilerplate that was, I'm 99% sure, written by a staffer. I find the idea that John McCain (or, indeed, most Senators) personally writes this sort of thing incredibly unlikely. I'm surprised that you seem to think he wrote it himself. I'd be surprised to find that he'd ever read it.

I could, of course, be wrong. But my understanding of how most Senators work is that they'll give agreement to what their staffers propose as to how they vote, and in some important cases make up their own minds, but otherwise leave the bureaucratic details to their staff.

I've worked on too many memoirs where the "author" has no idea what "they" "wrote," to have many illusions that just because someone's name is on a statement that they wrote it. Remember how it came out that that outraged letter to Obama back in their pre-Presidential campaign days wasn't even written by McCain? Give me a reason to think this is different. The man isn't known either for writing, or personally micromanaging details.

Gary: I'm surprised that you seem to think he wrote it himself. I'd be surprised to find that he'd ever read it.

I’m sure he didn’t write it. We know that he read it – at least one time. How much thought he gave it after that – probably not much. I suppose if you do that day in and day out it becomes unlikely you’d recall something like that in detail a year later. But if that’s the case, when the crap hit the fan later you’d think that a staffer would whisper in his ear that he previously had a position on the side of angels. Obviously not!

Highest-watched debate in history.

As Palin would say, "Gosh."

Or: "That's a lot of Joe Six-Packs."

Have you read the comments on that thread, btfb? Yeesh.

Bedtime, it now says "16 years", not "history". And elsewhere I've read that the record number of viewers was for Carter-Reagan.

Anarch: "Have you read the comments on that thread, btfb? Yeesh."

Now I have -- a lot of "Sarah was outstanding."

Yikes.

KC:

I was going with this: "If the rating stays above 43.6, it will mean Thursday night was the highest-rated vp debate in TV history, surpassing 1984's most-watched record holder between George Bush and Geraldine Ferrarro."

Worth noting that this would be the highest-rated VP debate.

Point is, A LOT of people watched. I think the first Obama-McCain debate didn't draw as big an audience as initially expected because it took place on a Friday night.

OT: How about the Phils, btfb?

I posted this comment on Matt Feeney’s “Taking Bets on Palin–Biden” at American Scene and as a summary I’m pretty pleased with it. It parallels a lot of comments here:

What a puzzle and fascination.
Palin makes sense as a Wal-Mart assistant manager or owner of a second-hand clothing store; mayor would seem to challenge her native abilities.
To have such a person in the national spotlight is kind of a dystopian Cinderella story; Cinderella turns out to be as scheming and devious as her wicked step-sisters, and the dreams, pretenses, and self-deceptions of millions of grocery-store check-out clerks are brought into high relief in all their crazy absurdity. Reality television indeed. A real life apotheosis of a bathos central to American domesticity.
Palin is indeed a powerful archetype of the little person, magnified and exposed in all her sleazy and corrupt small-mindedness who would, left to the quotidian devices of customary reality would remain respectable and unexceptional, a neighbor in the next pew filling her appointed place in a superficial world.
But the utter extraordinariness of her rise has thrust her into a place where her inadequacies stand out in stark relief.
It’s a crushing blow to the ‘you can be anything you want to be’ mindset. ‘You’ may in fact be wholly unequal to being what you want.
Once again life outstrips credible fiction by a vast margin.

Commenter matoko_chan says, w/out cite, in the same thread “Team McCain has already negotiated NO FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS.” FWIW.

Now I’m gonna go find the quote from Palin to her friend and campaign manager after she won her run for governor; when her manager expressed satisfaction, Palin amazed her by responding that her sights were set higher. IIRC, “Im gonna be President.”

hairshirt: Looks like the Brewers are suffering the same not-ready-for-prime-time syndrome that we did last year.

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