Sarah impressed out of the gate. But the longer it went on, the more she was exposed as being out of her league.
Her persona is disarming. Quite effective, actually. She's a competitor and she goes for the jugular. Even if she misses. And she missed a lot.
Her disarming persona can't make up for her utter lack of knowledge and depth.
Cute and cutting can only take you so far.
And yet, a woman who admitted in one moment that she's only been at this for five weeks, stated, minutes later, without blinking, mind you, that she wants the office of vice president to have more authority over legislative matters.
She's George W. Bush and Dick Cheney with lipstick.
Thank goodness Biden reminded us that Dick Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president in American history.
I think this debate also showed that people don't know Biden either, despite his Senate career, so people were getting to know him as much as they were the "doggonit" fraud from Alaska.
He had to have won some hearts when he choked up near the end talking about being a single parent and almost losing all his children along with his wife.
Palin's response to his tragedy was to ignore it and start talking about how much of a maverick McCain is and how they would bring real change. "Change is coming." Her delivery was abysmal. She knows it's not true, and she's just not a good actress.
I think that was the most striking moment of the night for me and it summed up both of them completely.
Biden is human. Palin is a robot.
And the human had it in him to shred like a dry rotted sheet the notion that McCain is some kind of maverick while the robot stood stunned.
I think Biden did something unexpected and very effective in his choke-up moment. He turned gender roles on their head by saying that just because he's a man doesn't mean he doesn't know what it's like to be a single parent.
In almost one fell swoop, he took Palin's biggest appeal from her. Not that she's a single parent., but she's been playing the "mommy" card like it's the big joker. But motherhood isn't the only parenthood that matters. Fatherhood does as well. Both presidential candidates wrote memoirs featuring their fathers. Barack Obama has made fatherhood a campaign issue. Biden, by relating his own tragedy as a father and husband, drove that home in a way Palin couldn't respond to and he never had to demean her to make the point.
That will appeal to women and men.
Through two debates it's become crystal clear: One ticket exudes compassion and knowledge. The other, viciousness and ineptitude.
I won't be the only one who whittles it down to that.
:: :: ::
Friday Morning Reactions:
The New York Times editorial board agrees that Palin was too reliant on her prepared talking points:
But Ms. Palin never really got beyond her talking points in 90 minutes, mostly repeating clichés and tired attack lines and energetically refusing to answer far too many questions.
Senator Biden did well, avoiding one of his own infamous gaffes, while showing a clear grasp of the big picture and the details. He left Ms. Palin way behind on most issues, especially foreign policy and national security, where she just seemed lost. It was in those moments that her lack of experience — two terms as mayor of a tiny Anchorage suburb and less than two years as governor — was most painfully evident.
Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal compliments Palin's folksy, populist tone but has a back-handed way of doing it:
She is not a person of thought but of action. Interviews are about thinking, about reflecting, marshaling data and integrating it into an answer. Debates are more active, more propelled—they are thrust and parry.
Not a person of thought. Hmmm. Using Noonan's logic, Palin does badly in interviews because they are "about thinking." I don't know about you, but I think that is a pretty important quality in the potential President of the United States.
The Denver Post editorial board thinks she held her own, but might have lacked enough specifics to sway undecided voters:
She hailed Israel as an important ally, but didn't get much beyond calling for a two-state solution with Palestine. She called for cutting taxes to create jobs, but failed to counter Biden's outlining Obama's tax cuts for the middle class.
Bottom line: Palin's biggest task is convincing undecided voters that she could lead should she have to, and it's hard to see whether her performance, as clean as it was, held enough substance to sway them.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial calls it a draw:
In this debate, Biden clearly had a better grasp of the issues. Palin skillfully sidestepped questions she didn’t want to answer from moderator Gwen Ifill and, in so doing, did manage to sidestep that media filter she talked about.
But if the gauge is whether Palin could go toe-to-toe and present herself as genuine and an alternative, she clearly did her ticket a favor in this debate.
Diane Francis, one of our neighbors up North at the National Post is spot on:
She wasn’t present. She wasn’t real. She was Sally Sound-byte.
This debate was more revealing than the Presidential one last week because it became very clear that she simply doesn’t have the substance to be VP much less President which reflects badly on John McCain's judgment. Obama will crush McCain. Said that months ago. Truer than ever.
Headline of the morning: Sarah Palin ignores questions she doesn't like in debate (NY Daily News)
Best quote of the morning (Dougas Burns, Iowa Independent):
For her part, GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin – speaking with the programmed cadence of a GPS navigation system — used forced folksiness to deliver crammed material in the manner of a high schooler looking to score a good grade on a Spanish test. The kid may escape with a B-minus, but he wouldn’t be able to order a cup of coffee in Spain a week later.
Mike Madden of salon.com says Sarah Palin exceeds expectations - and still loses:
She might have undone whatever good will she earned with her "aw, shucks" Wasilla hockey mom ways, though, when she utterly failed to react after Biden choked up while discussing the death of his first wife and their daughter.
Palin's response was ice cold: "People aren't looking for more of the same. They are looking for change. And John McCain has been the consummate maverick in the Senate over all these years."
It was at this moment in the debate when Biden showed real authenticity and Palin showed just how programmed she was. She clearly did not know how to react - because she hadn't prepared for it - so she launched back into the talking points.
John F. Harris and Mike Allen of Politico declare Biden the clear winner:
To the contrary, it is hard to count any objective measures by which Biden did not clearly win the encounter. She looked like she trying to get people to take her seriously. He looked like he was running for vice president. His answers were more responsive to the questions, far more detailed and less rhetorical.
On at least ten occasions, Palin gave answers that were nonspecific, completely generic, pivoted away from the question at hand, or simply ignored it: on global warming, an Iraq exit strategy, Iran and Pakistan, Iranian diplomacy, Israel-Palestine (and a follow-up), the nuclear trigger, interventionism, Cheney's vice presidency and her own greatest weakness.
Scot Lehigh of the Boston Globe, Biden's ready for the job:
You can say this about Sarah Palin: She did better debating Joe Biden than she did being interviewed by Katie Couric.
But that sets the bar very low indeed. So let's pay Palin the respect of treating her exactly as a male candidate would be treated. And that means saying this: She was simply nowhere near as good as Joe Biden.