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Matt Yglesias observed earlier this week that Sarah Palin tends to do fine in situations where she can pivot from the question to her own talking points and a cobweb of faux-folksy generalities.  She does poorly when the questioner tries to get her to answer the original question.  Katie Couric did this.  Gwen Ifil didn't.  So Sarah Palin got to respond to a question on Bush's Israel policy by chiding Joe Biden for talking about George Bush.  She got to answer the gay rights question by talking about her gay friends - though she couldn't bring herself to say the words.  She got to handle the economic questions by rhapsodizing about her pretend middle class lifestyle (she must agree with John McCain's definition of low-seven-figures income as middle class).

Watching tonight's debate should make it clear for anyone who wondered why the McCain campaign wanted so badly to limit the time each candidate got to talk and the time they got to interact with each other.  Palin had shown in the past that she could do a fine job with rules like this; it's unfortunate that the competent job she did tonight will draw attention away from the ways she's embarrassed herself over the past couple weeks.  Overall, she came off as more polished tonight, but Biden clearly knew better what he was talking about.  Biden let himself get somewhat frustrated and flustered, but I think he managed to stay within the lines imposed on him not to sound mean to Palin, and the moments where he vented some of that frustration ("John is no maverick on the issues that people sit around the kitchen table worrying about") were his best.

For two people who were hold up much of the week practicing, both Palin and Biden had a surprisingly hard time speaking in sentences that someone could read on a page and actually make sense of.  Palin kept saying things backwards - global warming causes human beings - while Biden would get partway through one thought and then switch over to a different one.

It's really maddening that this format allows Palin (and McCain last week) to lie about her opponent, never respond to the refutation of the lie, and then continue repeating it later on.

Biden seemed a bit too concerned with touting his own record rather than Barack Obama's - he defended his bankruptcy bill that Obama voted against, and towards the end when asked about their accomplishments as a ticket used up his time talking about what Joe Biden had done.  He was compelling talking about his experience as a single dad but stepped on his own moment a bit by suggesting Sarah Palin was being sexist.

If Palin really wanted to respond to a question about bipartisanship by just naming the line-up of GOP Convention speakers, shouldn't she have included George Bush and Cindy McCain?

Call me an East-Coaster if you like, but I think when Sarah Palin leapt on Joe Biden's explanation of his war vote and attacked him for nuance she sounded nasty, and when she spoke for "America" telling "Government" by name to stop taxing us she did sound like Tina Fey telling Russia to "go shoo."

Note to the media: Sarah Palin appealed tonight for vigorous fact-checking of what each candidate said.  Don't disappoint her!

Originally posted to Josh Eidelson on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 11:58 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I don't think she was talking about "Gay Friends" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DocGonzo, flight2q, Septima

    She was talking about friends who are tolerant of gays... and she was boasting about being tolerant of them!

    BushCheney Inc. - They lied to me, they lied to you, they lied to our troops.

    by jjohnjj on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 12:13:48 AM PDT

  •  No, apparently one of her best friends (0+ / 0-)

    is a lesbian...I just read about her today.

    "History supplies little beyond a list of those who have accommodated themselves with the property of others." - Voltaire

    by Robert Sandy on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 12:32:08 AM PDT

    •  Link? (0+ / 0-)

      Or troll?

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 01:10:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh geez... (0+ / 0-)

        Look at all of my other comments if you think I am a troll.

        I was just informing the commenter...I saw video footage of the woman today...it was on television...she was mid-forties and had shoulder length brown hair...look for the link yourself...

        "History supplies little beyond a list of those who have accommodated themselves with the property of others." - Voltaire

        by Robert Sandy on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 01:13:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No Link (0+ / 1-)
          Recommended by:
          Hidden by:
          vernonbc

          So that comment is a troll.

          Instead of praying to jesus, you could just post a link.

          So instead, your comment is indeed a "troll": a comment that adds nothing to the conversation except predictable responses. When you make a statement that's not just common knowledge, and you don't back it up, even after someone asks you to, that's not legit. It's your responsibility to back it up, or not say it at all.

          Just because you don't always troll doesn't make a comment like that not a troll. Learn to communicate before trying it in public.

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 08:49:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're the one who's trolling with your inane (0+ / 0-)

            and insulting arguments.

            He's not an African American candidate, he's and American candidate. - Jean Weiss on CNN

            by vernonbc on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 06:37:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Troll Horde (0+ / 0-)

              No, I have backed up my perfectly legitimate argument. You, on the other hand, are joining an inane argument that's turned insulting, by throwing in your own comment that's designed to add nothing to this discussion but predictable, probably angry, responses.

              Which, as I already demonstrated, is simply a troll.

              See how just a link to back up an assertion has some value, while obnoxious and empty attacks like yours has none? Probably not. Your fault, tho.

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 08:51:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Ifil should have recused herself (0+ / 0-)

    tonight, if for no other reason than I think that the internal fear of looking prejudicial or contemptuous kept her from doing her job.

    "History supplies little beyond a list of those who have accommodated themselves with the property of others." - Voltaire

    by Robert Sandy on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 12:35:01 AM PDT

  •  Sarah Palin survived. Joe Biden had an MVP nite. (0+ / 0-)

    Sarah Palin had no major gaffes tonight and she did well reciting her packaged talking points although she became more repetitive as the night went on. She also was not as sharp at the end as at the beginning seeming to run out of steam or more likely out of scripted talking points by the end of the debate.

    On the other hand, Joe Biden was on fire! He consistently hit his mark on question after question. He was knowledgeable, insightful and caring. He also picked up on the fact that Governor Palin was not able or ready to get off her scripted talking points which allowed him to hammer John McCain on the issues over and over again.

    While they had differing points of view on many issues Sarah Palin had no defense to Joe Biden's arguments on McCain's health care plan, on McCain's record as a deregulator, and on John McCain's complete lack of new proposals on major issues that would set him apart from President Bush.

    When Joe Biden destroyed John McCain's so called record as a maverick point by point by point she offered no defense at all but simply reiterated that she and John McCain were self-styled mavericks(talk about chutzpah by giving themselves this label!).

    Her worst moment of the night came when she tried to play the "Mommy" card. She implied that she could identify more with average middle class Americans sitting around the kitchen table talking because she was a soccer mom.  

    Unfortunately for her Joe Biden had an even bigger card to play. He pointed out with heartfelt emotion that he had to be both Daddy and Mommy as a suddenly single parent to his two young injured sons after his wife and infant daughter were killed in a tragic auto accident.

    As a single parent taking care of two young boys who almost died in that tragic accident, he pointed out that he was totally able to relate to middle class Americans sitting around a kitchen table talking as a family.

    And how did Sarah Plain respond to his heartfelt response to her playing of the "Mommy" card? She ignored his emotional comments about his biggest personal tragedy and went back to one of her many scripted talking points without so much as a comment about what Joe Biden had lived through.

    That defining moment of the debate, coupled with Joe Biden being spot on all night long while Sarah Plain surrendered whole areas of the playing field to the senior senator from Delaware, brought home the point to me just how masterful Joe Biden had been while Sarah Palin was "exceeding expectations" simply by "surviving" her first and hopefully only national debate with a truly mediocre performance.

  •  debate performance, amazing coherent polymath (0+ / 0-)

    No doubt we will now see Palin give a daily press conference, and an appearance each week on a show like Meet The Press.  She is taking leadership of this campaign.  Straight to the White House, where she will pursue her crusade to rid the world of snakes and witches.

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