IfillFirst, I'll admit right up-front that I was mostly wrong about Ifill. Both her demeanor and her questions were far better than I was anticipating. My predictions were more than half-serious, and I'm happy she didn't fulfill them.
But "mostly wrong" is not all wrong. My impression was that she gave Biden responses, second and third responses more often than she did Palin. Becky said it well in commenting on the previous post:
Like you said and Trinian agreed, I noted that multiple times she cut off the interaction, leaving Biden with the last word.More pointedly, when Palin said that she was "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," Ifill asked this:
What I appreciated most: How Sarah really seemed to be enjoying herself. While Biden was speaking, when the camera panned to her, she was usually smiling. I loved it when she said that she would leave the verification of the truth or falsehood of his facts to the pundits. She seemed to be in her element.
Obviously Ifill knew she was being closely watched, due to the book controversy, and did an amazing job of appearing to be non-biased and still giving Biden every advantage. There were a couple of places where Sarah said something and, though Ifill was ready to move on, Biden started a rebuttal; Ifill would make a lame attempt at protest and then allow him to vent. I was wishing the camera had panned to Ifill's face. I wonder if we would have seen a look of smug satisfaction.
Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?I told Valerie, "OK, that's a curveball, meant to link her to Dick Cheney, who many people really hate." It struck me immediately as a favor to Biden.
And Biden picked it right up. He exuded the absurd snarl, "Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history," followed by an unhinged rant.
Also, I'm thinking she probably actually helped the under-fire pro-death Roman Catholic Biden by not broaching the abortion issue in any way.
Best I've ever seen him. That's not damning by faint praise, either. I've found Biden charming, affable, and wrong about everything. He's been exceptionally gaffe-prone. Given that his son is heading off for Iraq, I found his final words genuinely moving: "May God bless all of you, and most of all, for both of us, selfishly, may God protect our troops."
At the same time, I noted that he slurred his words a lot. Rather than his famous smile, he frowned and sneered and snarled a lot. Next to Palin, he looked old, sour, negative, obsessive, intractable. He rattled off far more facts and figures than she, but I think his manner will defuse their effectiveness to many viewers - and voters.
Plus, of course, he lied and got things wrong. A lot. (See also here.)
PalinIn a word: she's back. And not a nanosecond too soon.
She strode across the stage, shook his hand, said "Hey, can I call you Joe?", and never lost grip. I was minded of Reagan in many ways.
Particularly, for one debate (I forget the year) his aides pumped Reagan full of facts and figures — and it was awful. He bombed. Because his strength, his charm, wasn't in being a fit Jeopardy contestant. It was his vision, his values, his amazing communication abilities, his charisma.
Ditto Palin. She has an impressive record of accomplishment, but it's fueled by her own values. She's a "conviction politician." She connected directly with viewers, unfiltered by MSM editors and gotcha-engineers. She is as Mark Steyn says: "autentically authentic."
In brief, I think she was absolutely terrific. Scan pundits (note: only one "n" in "pundit") such as Hugh Hewitt, the articles linked at Real Clear Politics, and the Corner for more details. But I think she did very well.
Here's what I think the problem is: she is a terrific #2, supporting an at-best-so-so #1. I think that's the problem.
My wife and I wondered why she didn't hit some points harder. But I realized she couldn't, given McCain. He wants to be bipartisan, he loves this "Maverick" label, and he's not ideologically-driven as Reagan was and Palin is. So she's saddled with his uneven, complicated record. I don't envy her having to answer for it.
McCain is clearly the choice over Obama — but that's reflection on how inept, dead-wrong, and dangerously extremist Obama is, not on McCain's excellence.
If you pressed me to name one thing McCain ever did that I liked, with no "buts"? The selection of Sarah Palin. And that's about it.
So here's how I make it: Sarah Palin has saved the McCain campaign twice. McCain had better (A) continue to set her loose, and specifically (B) let her loose on the critical and influential venues McCain disdains; and (C) McCain had better step up his own campaigning, and "close the deal."
This election, it really matters.