Notes on the Palin-Palin Debate

Here are some observations on last night’s debate that resonate with me.

Time’s report card on Palin (both candidates got an overall “B”):

By the standards of those Americans conditioned by the late night comics to think of Palin as an inarticulate idiot, incapable of putting coherent sentences together or understanding basic policy questions, she succeeded enormously. She had a solid ninety minutes of rapid, confident discourse and kept herself from being the story of the night (as well as the constant punch line of the election season). Improved her image and partially turned the page on McCain’s bad two weeks, enabling the Republican ticket team to try to regain some footing in a contest that has been steadily slipping away-but didn’t revolutionize the current race. Kicked off the debate with a demure handshake and query for Biden (“Hey, can I call you Joe?”) and indulged in some winks and folksy asides (referring to Washington insiders as “guys” for instance) but otherwise, didn’t leave Tina Fey much to work with.

Neo-neocon thinks Sarahcudda needs a live audience to thrive:

Some athletes are known for raising the level of their game when it is most important, in the championship or the World Series or the Olympics. Some are notorious for shining during the season but folding in the big ones.

Palin’s convention speech was a crucial debut in her rookie year, much like pitching in the season opener before the largest audience of her life. The Biden debate was more like stepping to the mound in the eighth inning of the World Series with bases loaded and nobody out, with her team behind. With most of America watching, she struck out the side.

That doesn’t mean her team will win, however. There’s still at least another inning to go, and she’s not the closer.

In contrast, Palin’s interviews with Gibson and Couric put her off her game. There was no audience present; it had to be imagined and filled in later. Since Palin seems to be most at ease and even invigorated interacting with a real crowd, this may have been part of the reason for her unease in the interviews. In her speeches and in the debate she was especially effective when she addressed the people directly.

From an astute commenter at Hot Air (via Neo-neocon):

We all know this was not the Palin/Biden debate. This was the Palin/Palin debate. Everybody who tuned into this thing, whether liberal, moderate or conservative were tuned in to see which candidate Sarah Palin handed the live hand grenade to, Obama or McCain. As usual nobody gived a rats a** what nonsense spewed from Biden’s cakehole. Nobody will remember a thing he said.

From Ross Douthat:

The Democrats have a lot of built-in advantages in this election cycle, and judging by the public’s reaction to the first debate, the key to victory for Obama-Biden is to do no harm – don’t squander your advantages, don’t freak out when the Republicans score their points on the surge and offshore drilling, and just be sure to always nudge the conversation back to the economy, to middle-class tax cuts versus tax cuts for the rich, to health care, and to George W. Bush’s record. So while Sarah Palin did an awful lot for Sarah Palin tonight, there was only so much she could do for her running mate – given her own limits, but especially given the state of the country, and the gulf between the issues the McCain campaign wants to fight on and the issues voters care about. She’s saved herself from Quayle-dom, but Obama-Biden is one debate closer to victory.

That last sentence sums it up pretty well, I think. The other day, my wife Nina came up with the line, “I can see the end of Palin’s career from my house” — a line which I grudgingly admire, even though I wish Palin well. But after last night I’m hopeful that Palin may still have a political future. I disagree with her on social issues and I don’t think she’s qualified to be vice president, but I admire her for taking on a remarkably corrupt Alaska political establishment, ousting a sitting governor of her own party in the process.

She’s in over her head, but she deserves better than the treatment she’s received. Ironically her best hope for better treatment is to lose the election. Who would remember Dan Quayle’s campaign-trail mishaps if he had never been elected VP?

3 thoughts on “Notes on the Palin-Palin Debate

  1. I agree with the sentiment of the Hot-Air poster, that Biden was free to pretty much say whatever he wanted. And he did, too, as McCain’s camp immediately issued a list of 14 lies (or “gaffes” depending on which media outlet you work for) Biden made during the debate.

    Palin has always been “in over her head”. Everybody thought that of her when she ran for governor too. I’m not counting her out just yet.

  2. I’m not counting HER out… I think the debate performance will help her recover enough so that she ends up being a net positive for the ticket.

    I am, unfortunately, pretty much counting McCAIN out. I support him because he was right on the surge and on the war. He’s probably going to lose, because the economy is (falsely, in my view) considered the more important issue.

    But the irony is, McCain was right on Fannie and Freddie, too — seeking to regulate them more effectively several years ago, while Barney Frank and the Democrats were still protecting them for their role in extending the American Dream to people who otherwise would not qualify for mortgages.

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