Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Our Sarah and Their Joe: Both Good

I said before that I thought McCain and Obama both did well. But I enjoyed both Sarah and Joe more. Biden was quick and well informed and did very well in dissing the Bush administration and connecting McCain to it. He was somewhat boring but no windbag and behaved like a gentleman. Sarah clearly didn’t know quite enough to "call him out" (as she said) some of the times he was quick and loose with some facts. But she was feisty and folksy, was prepared, kept her cool, and performed admirably for someone, as she said, who’s been on the national stage for only five weeks. It was more her night than his, I would say. My guess based on no facts: If this debate had been a couple of weeks ago, Americans would have given their hearts to Sarah and declared her the winner. But they might be going with Biden because they’re starting really to buy the idea that Barack is safe and needed change. I doubt the debate was a "game changer," but I bet it stopped Mac’s bleeding, at least.

Discussions - 6 Comments

Or...they might begin to think that Sarah is safe and McCain is the stability they want and not some kid with a gift for lofty oratory.

If the measure is how subtly one can call attention to one's experience, Joe Biden is a better debater than John McCain.

Sarah Palin did a reasonably good job, and displayed her strengths to good effect. Whether she did enough to separate her ticket from Sen Biden's constant hammering of the Bush-McCain connection is another story.

Perhps this stops the bleeding, but it doesn't change the fundamental dynamics of the race. And I didn't expect it to.

I disagree. Biden absolutely cleaned her clock tonight. I think McCain's toast. He'll never again poll within 4-5 points of Obama. Sarah Palin's knowledge of the issues and composure were both deeply, deeply lacking. Meanwhile, Biden had one of the best debates I've seen in a while. I think he would stomp Obama or McCain in a debate (though Palin never really put him on the offensive, which McCain could do).

Some thoughts in no particular order,

1. Palin was very good. She had some really witty moments (that line about Biden's stated disinterest in the VP job as a "lame joke" that no one got)and she did a good job on selling McCain's reform agenda while using Biden's own anti Obama statements against Biden in a way that wwas very effective but always respectful of Biden. In fact her very respectfullness of Biden made her summary of Biden's attacks on Obama that much more effective.

2. Biden was also good, but he spoke in a kind of senatorial drone. Its just not the most effective way to communicate through tv - it comes off stiff and arrogant. Biden got alot of shots in on McCain but I'm not sure of their impact on persuadable voters. There was something inauthentic about Biden that made him seem like the kind of guy who would say anything about anyone to get ahead. When Palin called him on the Iraq War vote as a waffling, deceptive Washington insider, I think she hurt his credibility. But then again I'm biased.

3. Palin's biggest weakness was McCain himself. She had trouble articulating parts of McCain's domestic agenda because McCain has done little to introduce it to the American people. She lost the exchange on McCain's health care plan because most people were unfamiliar with the plan and its alot easier to make it sound scary in two minutes than to explain the benefits to a public that is totally new to the plan. NOT HER FAULT!

4.Biden's strongest attack on McCain was that McCain isn't really a maverick on the things people care about. It wasn't true in the sense that Biden intended but there is some truth to that. McCain has done a lousy job connecting his domestic policies to people's lives (energy exepted) and people have real trouble picturing how a McCain administration will usher in any particular improvement in their ever more anxious lives. There is a real sense that McCain doesn't "get" the struggling American's problems and doesn't spend alot of time thinking about how to deal with them. In this enviorment it is a fatal flaw.

I am not sure that it was in Biden/Obama's interest to take such an emphatic stance on the question of what causes climate change. Sarah's answer that we don't really know what it causing it--some of it's cyclical, some of it's man's activity--was more reasonable. Biden said, in no uncertain terms, that it is "all" man-made. I think most Americans who have not bought into the AlGore movie will view that as borderline . . . well, nuts. But then, I don't think this is the burning issue of the election, either.

I grimaced only a couple of times when Palin spoke-as opposed to constantly throughout the Couric segments-and experienced an overwhelming sense of relief every time she managed to say something specific and coherent about an issue unrelated to energy. Needless to say, I don't rate her as having performed well (perhaps only in relation to her previously low standard) and agree w/jwc that she was trounced.

I expected competence though not the occasional flash of eloquence from Biden...given the same characters, would prefer that he were at the top of the ticket.

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