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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.