"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


the debate in review

A few brief thoughts:

  • No major gaffes for either of them. That's good for them, boring for us.
  • Here's an early fact-check. More here. Lots of misleading info tonight.
  • Palin has learned to not answer the questions like any good politician.
  • Biden was too policy-wonky, insider DC baseball-ish. It was painful.
  • Palin was too folksy. It was painful.
  • When I heard Sarah Palin say that she believes the powers of the vice-presidency are constitutionally broad, I almost choked.
  • Moving the embassy to Jerusalem? That's Steve Biegun all the way. It happens every election, and it will tick off the Arab street.
  • Gwen Ifill did a bad job. She let them get away without answering questions almost the entire debate. Part of that is due to the conditions about the debate that the campaigns set, but the moderator should always do more to keep them on topic.
  • I think Biden won. Watching the CNN undecided-voter-o-meter, it was clear that his answers were more popular more of the time. For so much of her answers, especially for the last hour, was flat.
  • That said, Palin could have destroyed the McCain campaign tonight. And she didn't.
  • Palin's suit was really cute.


Blogger David McCullars said...

I can't agree more that the loser of this debate was Gwen Ifill. I counted maybe two or three times when Palin actually answered the question given to her -- well, answered it with something other than "yes, I agree, but what I really want to talk about is ..." This was infuriating. If I want to hear pre-rehearsed statements, I'll watch political advertisements. This was supposed to be a debate, and it's the moderator's job to press for real answers and not bull.

Something that I caught that I thought was odd: Palin at one point said we need to stop the greed and corruption on Wall Street. Maybe she meant DC, but as I see it her statement was a complete contradiction of her primary talking point of the night, that we need small government, to get government out of people's lives, etc. How exactly do you stop the greed and corruption in Wall Street without invoking the powerful hand of government, without regulations? I was at a loss for words on that one. Of course, I've never understood how a party that is so in favor of small government can be so in love with a huge military -- that's a fundamental contradiction in terms.

In my less than informed opinion, I don't think either candidate won. Biden employed his strategy of staying away from attacks on Palin and focusing entirely on McCain. It just made him look weak and allowed Palin to escape unscathed. Palin just offered well-rehearsed statements, but she did a fabulous job at it. She connected with the camera, kept her talk simple (albeit annoyingly folksy as you point out, TIA), and generally came across much more likable than Biden. With one moving exception, Biden just looked like a boring old white guy, and unless you really listened carefully, you probably missed the fact that he actually answered the questions put to him (well, most of them).

Oh, yeah, and since when did we start referring to the Presidential candidates by their first names? Every time I heard "John" or "Barrack" I did a double-take.

Thursday, October 02, 2008 11:54:00 PM

Blogger CharlieMac said...

45 minutes! I was able to hang on and watch the debate for that long. A recent record for me. It was pure Pablum from both. I was really happy about one thing! Palin finallg brushed that annoying clump of bangs out of her eye. That was the most interesting thing either did and she did that off camera.
Charlie Mac

Friday, October 03, 2008 6:27:00 AM

Blogger Michael said...

Biden looked better, but I think if you were a normal American (i.e. someone who gets political info through a couple of TV clips or word of mouth instead of actually studying it)you might have thought that Palin wasn't as bad as everyone thought. Because expectations for her were so low, it might have helped her appear to be the winner to many.

Anyways, I thought both would have major screw ups, but they really didn't. Palin came off non-Washingtony and Biden came off very knowledgeable.

Friday, October 03, 2008 6:59:00 AM

Blogger the librarian said...

Palin's experience in broadcasting definitely came through, especially with the way she looked and spoke directly to the camera. Her smile was not creepy like McCain's and she didn't stammer her way through her answers like she did in her TV interviews. She didn't embarass herself or her party and although I kind of wanted to see it happen (in that morbid can't look away from a train wreck kind of way), I'm glad it didn't.

BUT...She winked at the camera! Multiple times! And she didn't really say anything you haven't heard her or McCain say before. I lost count of how many times she said "surge" and "maverick" and used the names of the foreign leaders she has so obviously been practicing. I saw nothing from her that gave me any more confidence that she is capable of being second in command, or heaven forbid, in charge of our country. When she's staring into Putin's or some other world leader's eyes to see his soul, is she going to wink at him? ;)

Friday, October 03, 2008 10:02:00 AM

Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Ifill was shackled because of the rightwing attacks that she was in the tank for Obama because she's black and mentions Obama in a book she's writing. Hard to be effective in those circumstances.

Since nothing in the debate was gamechanging for either candidate, the ground continues to favor Obama. McCain is going to spend the next 30 days in complete attack and smear mode--and that may work. But if he has not changed the basic dynamics of the race by 15 October, he'd better start practicing his concession speech. (Or pray for a terrorist attack--which is horrible, but I have heard GOP folk actually wish for such!)

If the economy becomes even slightly better, McCain may look less frazzled and thus try more for swing voters--which he lost the last 10 days.

I think the Obama folk have the better ground game in swing states, but in most of them it will be too close. On the other hand, several conservative commentators are now predicting a McCain loss--most recently, Krauthammer. And what was McCain's comment that Obama's polling lead was "because life's not fair?" Combined with his pullout of MI and possible pullout of PA, this looks weak.

Electoral maps show Obama with 22 routes to victory, McCain with only 12 all of which require him to hold BOTH OH and FL--and Obama is now leading FL (thought not by much) and is statistically tied in OH. But if Obama wins NM, CO, and NV, he can lose OH or FL and still win--though his odds of winning while losing BOTH are very long. Most statisticians are saying that Obama's chances of winning AT LEAST the 270 needed electoral votes are now at about 90%. But MUCH can happen in 30 days. Can you say, "October surprise?" I knew you could. :-)

Saturday, October 04, 2008 9:28:00 AM

Blogger MamasBoy said...

"Ifill was shackled because of the rightwing attacks that she was in the tank for Obama because she's black and mentions Obama in a book she's writing. Hard to be effective in those circumstances."

Ifill doesn't just mention Obama in her book. Ifill titled her book "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama" The book is scheduled to be released the day of the Presidential inauguration, giving her a monetary incentive to influence the election. If a conservative journalist had written a book about the military leaders in politics, included McCain's name in the title and scheduled the release date for January 20, 2009, you can bet that liberals would have been complaining... and rightly so.

Debate moderators need to at least appear to be unbiased.


Monday, October 06, 2008 2:26:00 AM


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