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Posted by on Oct 3, 2008 in At TMV | 8 comments

Palin and Biden: Low Bars and High Standards

Tonight’s debate was kind of a letdown, eh? No embarrassing gaffes (though there’s plenty of fodder for parsing and picking). No bumbling or incoherence. No bullying. Not even any bias from the moderator.

Kind of bland for those of us who popped popcorn and expected a show. I did, however, come away with some impressions.

First and foremost, of course, is that Sarah Palin did much better than the (ludicrously low) expectations. If all people wanted to know about her tonight was whether the Couric interviews were accurate depictions, then she exceeded their wildest dreams. Furthermore, she came across as likable and warm (though the folksiness wore thin for me), and simultaneously engaged and scrappy (a good debate quality).

Oddly, even though I watched the debate hoping for some clarity on Palin, it was Joe Biden who left the bigger impression with me. While I wouldn’t say he “wiped the floor” with her, his command of issues was vastly superior — and I think he connected in a more genuine way.

At the most general of levels, I’d have to call the debate a draw; Biden was much stronger, but Palin cleared her bar with more air.

However, there was another evaluative level altogether.

They can discuss and debate issues and policy until they’re blue in the face, but the bottom line for a vice-presidential candidate is… if push comes to shove, how do you feel about that individual in the Oval Office?

That’s the real standard they have to meet — and while I got a clear picture tonight of Joe Biden in this role, the visual just wouldn’t come for Sarah Palin.

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  • StockBoySF

    I thought Palin would do well tonight and she did- she even exceeded my expectations in many ways. Overall she came across as strong, confident and articulate. While she did offer some specific answers and facts, it is clear that she doesn’t have years of knowledge and debates behind her.

    Biden did better than I expected as well. And in my mind he did win the debate. One word that came to my mind twice was “wise”. I’ve never characterized any candidate anywhere as being “wise” before in a debate, so I was a little surprised that the word came to mind while watching Biden. But putting Biden and Palin side by side it was clear he had more experienced in the world (not only in politics but in life) and that he was wiser.

    I think the right person for the job as VP of the US is BIden. His experience and knowledge and understanding of the issues are really valuable as VP. Palin comes across as the rookie she is on the national stage.

  • StockBoySF

    Polimom, if I recall correctly one of the questions left unresolved for you in the prez debate was what (if anything) in their plan each of the candidates would have to give up in the face of the $700 bn bailout. Did you get more resolution with tonight’s veep debate? It was one of the questions.

    • Stockboy — no, I’m still pretty dissatisfied on the question of spending (or deficits via tax cuts). My problem with that, though, predated the debates. It did look, though, as if Joe Biden had at least anticipated the question this time. One has to wonder about all the talk of pumping $ into Pakistan, though, when Biden’s sole cut (that I heard) was foreign aid.

  • pacatrue

    One of the most intriguing moments of the debate was where each candidate talked about their intended roles as VP. I’m fairly comfortable with Palin in her described role — special needs kids, government reform, and energy (though less so on energy), so if I just considered the McCain – Palin ticket in those terms, then I could put the VP candidate to the side and just concentrate on McCain’s positions. Unfortunately, if you consider her for Prez and not VP, since actuarial tables give her a 1 in 5 chance of having to step in, things shift dramatically still for me.

    I’m completely comfortable with Palin handling issues of special education, but would I want her making the call on bombing an Iranian nuclear installation, cajoling Congress to pass a critical bail-out bill, or redesigning our health care system? That’s still a resounding no.

  • StockBoySF

    Polimom, “when Biden’s sole cut (that I heard) was foreign aid.”

    That’s how I remember it too. Though that’s better (relatively speaking, of course) than Palin’s answer which was that McCain has not made a promise that he can’t keep….

    I agree with you that Biden anticipated the question, but what really struck me was that camp McCain had not anticipated it….

    I thought it was a good question brought up by you (and others) in the media so I wonder how camp McCain missed it.

    Thanks, Polimom!

  • There is no reason we should be pumping so much aid to Israel and Egypt. By cutting back on that, we could definitely send more to Pakistan, not that I think we should really be doing that either.

  • mlhradio

    Over the past week the various pundits in the media have been talking about how expectations for Palin during the debate was extremely low (as one person put it, if she came away without breaking an arm she’d be the winner). But I had a realization yesterday — Palin didn’t have just one bar to cross, but *two* bars.

    The first bar, the low bar of expectations, she handily jumped over last night. This was the bar that represented her base, the core Republicans who needed to be reassured that she wasn’t as big a goofball as she had appeared in all those ‘nasty, mean, partisan Couric interviews’. By that measure, she was a success.

    But there was also a SECOND bar, representing the non-Palin fans, the undecided independents and Obama supporters. That bar was set extremely high, and she missed it by a mile. In order to *win over* new voters and supporters, she had to pwn Biden…and she didn’t. By that measure, she was a failure.

    By jumping between the bars, she has managed to shore up her previously-liquefying base, but did nothing to add to it. And in the final analysis, because her performance was NOT a game-changer, this does not help the McCain campaign which is running out of days to catch up to Obama.

  • duffbear

    So we have a democratic VP who wants to cut foreign aid??!! A Republican Secretary of Defense who is trying increase the role of the State Department to ensure diplomatic and economic aid is given to Iraq; and a republican President who has tripled foreign aid to promote health care and education systems in Africa. I thought democrats believed in expanding national security interests through soft power and republicans hard? Is it just me or have party ideals been redefined?

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