Friday, October 3, 2008


After all the hoopla leading up to the vice-presidential debate, they both did fine. Palin exceeded expectations (she could hardly have done otherwise), and Biden did too. Palin didn't have any of the painful deer-in-the-headlights moments she's been having in her one-on-one interviews, and Biden didn't run on endlessly and didn't make any gaffes.

I agree with the general verdict that Biden did better. He answered more of the questions and showed his great depth of knowledge, particularly on foreign policy matters. If he were compelled to take over the Presidency on a moment's notice, you know he could do it. Palin showed that she might not be as bad as her performance over the last three weeks suggests, but you still feel she couldn't possibly handle being President next spring if that should become necessary.

I did think Biden could have jumped on a couple of Palin's statements a little better. When Palin kept saying that Obama and Biden are looking backward at the Bush administration too much, a good riposte would have been, "we're looking back at the Bush administration because you and John McCain are planning to keep doing the same things!" The bad policies of the Bush administration are relevant when one of the tickets is promising more of the same in most every way. Also, he didn't respond to Palin's "white flag of surrender" comment. That would have been a good chance to explain again that setting a timeline to leave Iraq is not surrendering, but a necessary step to make clear to the Iraqi government that it's going to have to stand up for itself and not count on American support forever. But Biden did a good job of hitting on the basic campaign theme of change v. more of the same.

As to Palin, she ignored a lot of the questions. For example, she certainly didn't answer the question about what should be the trigger for use of nuclear weapons, and when Ifill asked if she agreed with Senator Biden's statement that there should be no distinction in rights between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple, all she said was that she was against gay marriage. Of course her goal wasn't to answer questions, but to win votes. Sometimes you do that better by ignoring questions than by answering them.

It still comes down to change v. more of the same. Palin kept trying to say that her ticket is all about reform and change, but Biden convincingly pointed out that McCain is not for change on the war and he's not for change on most domestic policies either.

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