October 02, 2008
Live-blogging the V.P. debate
Posted by: Chris
9:01 p.m.: Did you hear that from Sarah Palin when she shook Joe Biden's hand? "Can I call you Joe?" This is pre-emptive so that the campaign can avoid hypocrisy charges since they complained that Barack Obama called John McCain "John" instead of "Senator McCain."
9:04 p.m.: Both Biden and Palin look to be aggressive, though Palin's "save" attempt on what McCain meant by "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" was weak. He meant "the ingenuity of American workers"? Please.
9:10 p.m.: How many times can Sarah Palin say the word "that" in one sentence? Palin says we should demand "strict oversight"? Since when is that something John McCain stood for? Palin's call for personal responsibility, however, was a clever change of subject. Biden comes across stuffy in response.
9:13 p.m.: That's the second "darn right" from Palin. I guess you love it or hate it. Biden slams Palin on the tax standard and for not defending McCain on deregulation. Is she spunky or annoying for saying she'll refuse to answer questions like Biden or moderator Gwen Ifill wants?
9:15 p.m.: Palin takes issue with "that redistribution of wealth principle you're talking about there." Apparently Palin and "Government" are on a first-name basis, since that's the way she talks to them. Palin defends McCain's health care plan -- how is a $5,000 tax credit "budget neutral"? Biden's attack on McCain's health care plan explains that somewhat, pointing out the tax on employers to pay for it, but he gets bogged down in numbers and verbosity in making his point. Definitely Biden's weakness.
9:23 p.m.: Palin opposes the idea of "greed" at the center of corporate operations? Does she understand capitalism? Isn't she a Republican? Now she says she and McCain will "stop greed and corruption on Wall Street"? How exactly do you "stop greed"?
9:29 p.m.: First Palin gaffe: She reflexively says "That is not so" in response to Ifill when it's clear from context that she hadn't listened to Biden's answer and doesn't have any clue what the question was about (i.e., the Biden proposal to allow troubled homeowners to adjust the principle and not just the interest rates paid on their mortgages).
9:34 p.m.: Another Palin bluster through the Ifill question about carbon emissions and clean coal to get to the sound byte ("Drill baby, drill.") Good for Ifill for circling back to the question, and getting a clean answer from Palin that she supports carbon emission limits.
9:36 p.m.: Biden backs "benefits" for same-sex couples "like in Alaska." Of course the Alaska Supreme Court forced the state to offer the benefits and Palin backed an amendment to reverse the policy. Palin doesnt support "exporting" the Alaska policy on D.P. benefits elsewhere if it "approaches marriages." Palin says the McCain administration won't try to prevent gays from visiting loved ones in hospitals or entering contracts. Wow. Gee, thanks.
I can't wait to see the transcript on this because I didn't hear Palin promise "no civil rights distinction between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples," as Biden claims she did.
9:40 p.m.: Palin says "we can't afford early withdrawal from Iraq" even though one of her few public statements on foreign policy before being selected by McCain was that she wasn't sure about the surge unless it had a "clear exit strategy." That was two years ago. Nice response from Biden, getting good response from the "uncommitted voters" on the CNN graph. Palin looks positively ridiculous to me when she tries to be tough.
9:47 p.m.: Palin completely misses the point that the central front in the war on terror is in Iraq because the invasion allowed Al Qaeda to -- for a time at least -- recruit at will against the U.S. invaders. Biden references President Bush, in a complimentary way, reminding me that there have been very few attacks painting McCain as more Bush. Very surprising.
9:54 p.m.: Palin's smugness, especially in light of her weak record, grates on me on ways that very few have before. Just the idea that you can grin and smile your way through a serious debate really irks.
10:08 p.m.: Biden brings up "the Bush doctrine." Clever.
10:11 p.m.: "Say it ain't so, Joe. There you go again, pointing at the past" because he brought up Bush. I can understand why she wants to change the subject; that's for sure. Her answer on education is as vapid and nonsensical as the one on nuclear proliferation. Can't wait to see the transcript.
10:14 p.m.: Oh lord, she wants "more authority" than the Constitution provides for the veep... No mention at all to the vice president's primary responsibility -- being informed and ready to step in and become president should the worst happen.
10:18 p.m.: Asked what is her own worst weakness, Palin wanders off into Ronald Reagan's "shining city on the hill" in a way that reminds me of Reagan wandering off near the end of his last debate with Walter Mondale in 1984. Biden's emotional remark about his son came off very genuine, something I wouldn't always say about him.
10:28 p.m.: Palin's use of cliche, ad nauseum, also grates, at least with me. "I like to be able to answer the tough questions," she says. So why doesn't she hold some friggin press conferences?!
All in all, the debate was as expected: Biden was more substantive, Palin managed through without any major gaffes. Whatever your views on the substantive issues, I can't imagine not being very uncomfortable with the idea of Sarah Palin as vice president, much less commander in chief.
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