Friday, October 03, 2008

The Palin/Biden debate

A few thoughts about this, and then let's move on. (Feel free to meta-statize, though.) I am fighting my too-frequent tendency to do a numbered list... but probably should just yield.

First, 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.

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.
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:
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.)

In 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.


Rachael Starke said...

"She strode across the stage, shook his hand, said "Hey, can I call you Joe?", and never lost grip." Probably my favorite moment - you knew that the real Sarah was walking onstage. It was awesome.

"Sarah Palin has saved the McCain campaign twice."

No kidding. And this time it looks like it's the esteemed Ms. Noonan at the WSJ that agrees wtih you(I'd do that linky thingie but I'm an eternal novice when it comes to that fancy blog stuff.).

You seem to have this uncanny gift for predicting what the media will say before, during, or after an event. The Force is strong in you, young Jedi.

CR said...

On the Vice Presidency Question, on whether it is part of the legislative branch - my comment is this, not all questions have to be answered with a simple no or yes. Palin could have responded first, by correcting Biden that the executive branch powers come from Article 2, NOT from Article 1. Palin could have answered Ifill in this way, that the Vice President's power to break a tie vote COMES form Article 1. Article 1 outlines the powers of the LEGISLATIVE branch.

This was a trick question asked by people who don't understand the articles of the Constitution. It would not necessarily be wrong to say per se to that that the Vice President was part of the legislative branch. His power to break the tie vote is outlined in Article 1 which defines the powers of the LEGISLATIVE branch.

So, anyway, trick question asked by ignorant people, answered by a ignorant Senator and answered correctly by Gov. Palin - albeit not answered as forcefully as she could have. So called Fact Check doesn't even address.

I don't see how McCain can close the deal. You have a massive media machine in the bank for Obama. You have a financial crisis that the media is lying along with the democrats about what caused. Bill O'Reilly really got angry against Barney Frank yesterday because he wouldn't admit he was to blame.

So, you got a media for Obama, lying about McCain, lying about Palin, lying about the causes of the financial crisis.

Oh, one more thing, consumer confidence went up in September. Guess how Al-AP reports it, something to the affect that this is one of the worst consumer indexes. They get to some paragraphs later admitting the CPI index went up.

So, yes, Dan, Sen. McCain has some responsibility of explanation, but how does one compete against not only a media that is in the bank for Obama, but lies about the causes of the troubles in our economy.

Becky Schell said...


how does one compete

Gentle reminder: We pray. We trust God, who is able to turn the hearts of kings and their subjects. The results are in His sovereign hands and His plans will not be thwarted by political stuff. We serve a mighty God who cares for us!

The other morning I had a flash of thought: if the whole world should have a financial collapse, that could certainly pave the way for a certain man of lawlessness. I had this little thrill of excitement when I thought of the fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18; come quickly, Lord Jesus!

CR said...

Oh, yes, of course, Becky, as believers, we do pray, but what I was trying to address was Dan's statement that McCain has to step us his campaign and close the deal.

I do not see what McCain can do step up his campaign and close the deal unless he stops being himself and becomes like a Palin or Reagan.

Peren said...

Cheney as the most dangerous VP ever? Alexander Hamilton would beg to differ.

JackW said...

Dan, sometimes I just have to say ... Good job dude!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...


Win or lose, we remain faithful in Him. His sovereignty guarantees ultimate victory.

Ostracism, ridicule, mockery, derision, it's just part of the package. Of course, this comes across to secular libs as a persecution complex or playing the victim card by Christians.

Solameanie said...


LOL, ROFL and then some! Best quip I've seen in a long time! Of course, many in this generation wouldn't know to what you are referring.


Good post. Did you note the "polls" by CNN and CBS (go figure) showing that Biden won? Funny, because most of the other polls and focus groups I saw - broadcast or on line -- thought Sarah Palin won. In the tank doesn't begin to describe the media and their love fest for the Obamessiah.

~Mark said...

Hi Dan,

as much as I so far admire Sarah Palin, I was wondering your opinion on something La Shawn barber raised that I haven't seen anyone else touch on. She said she likes her (to a degree) but doesn't like the idea of a mom being chosen for a position that will take her away from her family for extended periods of time.

I dunno how much time the VP stays away from home, but I think she has a point.

Gilbert said...

I flipped between CBS, NBC and ABC at the end. Surprisingly, NBC thought that Palin had won. they had Geraldine Ferrara and she admitted that, while in the tank for Barack, that she thought she did well, just disagreed for everything she stood for (natch). ABC, however, wasn't even funny. In fact, at one point even good ol' Charlie had to interrupt it and start playing "devils advocate" against the punsters he had on. And what was up with their Republican analyst blasting her? Sheesh.

I've been doing a study of Hosea with our church. During that time, Israel never had a Godly leader. Not one. In fact, their leaders were being murdered at the rate of once every few months! You look at the other tribes and they each had at least a few Godly leaders, but not Israel. Now, granted, we aren't killing our leaders every few months, of course, but the rest of the idolatry that's going right now is almost EXACTLY what was going on in Hosea's time...idolatry, worship of false gods, and the usual human-centered sin-sewer actions humans have done since Adam and Eve. And when you read God's judgment back then to them, let's just say I am NOT amused as to what is coming eventually, no matter who wins the election.

Yes, yes, I know we'll be in heaven by grace; I just hate to see what is happening in this country. I vote for massive repentance...

"The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit."
---Proverbs 14:8, KJV

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Gilbert: "let's just say I am NOT amused as to what is coming eventually"

Will this make you feel better:

Youthful Enthusiasm?

Gilbert said...

Geraldine Ferraro, sorry for my typo.

Oh, one more thing: I do wish Palin had stopped repeating somewhat endlessly about what John McCain was going to do. Otherwise, going up against Biden was going to be really tough, and everyone knew it. But still, I agree Dan: I cringed at some of his beliefs. Just cringed. I understand more and more each day why Jesus told anyone who is wise in this world to become "fools" and then become wise in Christ.

And for the moderator to say that "(they) agree that Marriage is between one man and one woman" is laughable.

CR said...

Wow...70 million households watched the debate last night...that's more than any watched presidential debate, never mind, vp debate...

candy said...

A couple of things. I think, but am not sure, that the "May I call you Joe?" might have been in reference to the Presidential debate where Obama kept calling McCain, "John" to push his buttons, while McCain respectfully called Obama, "Senator Obama".

Also, I wish Palin had brought up the fact that the current economic crisis was birthed well before the last eight years, and in fact, owed many of its roots to the Clinton administration.

She seemed to skim the surface of many issues, but I was pleased that she addressed "No Child Left Behind", her opinions on same sex marriage, and climate change.

BTW: My fifth/sixth graders got extra credit for writing a report dealing with various aspects of the debate.

J♥Yce Burrows said...

This election, it really matters.

Dan, "you get it"; spot on ~

ps. sending you an email in case your spam filter catches it as many do with the addy.

John said...


You know I love you...but I am just not getting having any excitement about the Palin-McCain...(ooops McCain-Palin - sorry) ticket. These people (ie politicians) just passed a bail-out package riddled with pork and earmarks. No change is coming - only things worse. The fundamental issue is every one of these people talk about change and change for long-term solutions never, ever, never happens. In the debate Biden and Palin both mis-stated facts. You know: if you sleep with dogs you're going to catch flees. OK - so I'm ranting a little. Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Tim said...

Re: the "wink" photo...

I've seen the video of the wink, which there comes across as folksy and warm.

The photo comes across as a little creepy, especially to someone who doesn't know the context.

DJP said...

It's the only photo I've seen. If anyone knows a better, I'll replace it.

DJP said...

Well, Tim... there's THIS.

Tim said...

There's WHAT? (Linkless link)

CR said...

I didn't want to be the first one to say anything, but I agree with Tim. Actually, it's the same photo that Drudge Report used. I imagine this will be SNL's spoof on Palin because they won't have anything else to make fun of. Of course her wink was very cute and natural, it's just the still photo that looks weird.

CR said...

I'm glad that Palin is really hitting hard against Obama ties.

Obama said recently, again, that "I" (meaning he) would, I repeat, "I" would restore our moral standing so that America is again the last best hope for all who called to the cause of freedom who long for lives of peace and who yearn for a better future.

And people get upset about the Obamessiah label??? He talks about "I" will restore, "I" will restore.

DJP said...

Weird, Tim. It showed as a link in preview. I'll do it twice.


And this:

DJP said...

OK, Tim, if you're still around; see if you like it better now.

Tim said...

Much better, brother. ;-)

CR said...

I would just say a couple of things in reply to your post, jk, without necessarily agreeing with your assessment of McCain/Palin, which I think I do. First, in this world, among fallen human creatures, you will never find a morally perfect government. All governments, no matter what structure they manifest, or what political party is in control (even Republicans) are representative of fallen humanity because governments are made up of people. And people are fallen. And exercising government doesn't involve an exemption from that human corruption. I'm sure you would agree jk.

Secondly, Augustine said that governments themselves are evil, but that it is a necessary evil, and the reason it is a necessary evil, it is necessary, because of evil.

So, you may not be excited about McCain. (not many of us are). Then, imagine an Obama presidency and the turning back of the clock of moving towards defending the unborn or perhaps gay marriages being ruled legal by a federal judiciary.

Maybe that will put things in perspective.

DJP said...

Math isn't my greatest strength, but here's how I figure it.

One, though not one hundred, is still a bigger number than zero — let alone negative numbers.

One inch net in the right direction, though not a mile, is still more than zero, net — let alone a mile in the wrong direction.

McCain will certainly do the right thing some of the time, distinctively.

Obama would certainly NEVER do those right distinctives, and would certainly do great harm, in those distinctives.

Simple choice for me, as a Christian.

CR said...

With regards to you saying that she is a terrific #2 supporting a so-so #1. I would say, as a campaigner, McCain is an atrocious #1.

This goes back to what you said way back when. This election is McCain's to lose. (And it looks like he's going to lose). McCain wanted to run an "honorable" campaign. That means, to him, not pounding the electorate with Obama's associations with Ayers and Wright. It's quite pathetic that his #2 is having to do this in speeches rather than himself.

Much of the electorate is unsure still about Obama and rather taking advantage of that, McCain is running a "honorable" campaign. There is nothing dishonorable about telling the truth about associations. I know what McCain is going to say after he loses the election (which I hope he doesn't lose): "I'm proud to say, we fought hard and ran an honorable campaign." No Sen. McCain you ran an absolute horrific campaign and a stupid campaign. You did one of the best things in your political career, picking Sarah Palin, and you blew that opportunity because of your arrogance of wanting to run a pseudo "honorable" campaign, and now we may be stuck with Obama for eight years. Thanks for nothing and you have proven to be the bad Senator and campaigner that we hoped you would not be, but turned out to be.

I hope I'm wrong.