Thursday, October 02, 2008

VEEPage: A few notes on the debate 

I'm in Madrid and more tired than a should be, but I set an alarm so that I could watch the vice presidential debate. Sadly, my only option is CNN, so I have to break my habit of never watching Wolf Blitzer. Although I will get the realtime audience feedback lines, helpfully broken down by gender. Because, you know, men and women all think alike.

This may or may not turn into a live-blog post. Refresh the page after the debate starts to see if it does. Either way, I'll post my reactions here.

Watching some of the pre-debate commentary, it sounds as though Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric did not go well. I have been out of the country and only sporadially online since last weekend, so I had missed that. Anybody out there see it and have a different view?

The first question is whether the struggles of the Congress over the Paulson plan represents the best of Washington or the worst of it. Biden does not answer the question, but gives the solid populist answer. Palin shows up with an articulate -- she's not black, so it is just fine to say that -- answer that touches on the insecurity of individual voters and John McCain's record. She pushes the audience meter into positive range.

Who was at fault, greedy lenders or homeowners who borrowed more than they should?

Palin goes populist, and the audience meter goes through the roof. Damn. I am obsessing over the audience meter, and Palin's answer is driving it to the very top of the chart.

Biden goes on the attack, making this all about miscellaneous things that McCain has said on the subject of regulation, or rather deregulation. A huge gender gap opens up between men and women, with the ladies loving more regulation and the men not nearly so much.

Questions on taxes, for Biden the income tax increase, and for Palin the proposal to tax health benefits.

Biden is winning this on points so far, but Palin has done well enough to exceed expectations. His attacks on the McCain's health care plan -- which I do not support, by the way -- is disingenuous, but it gets him a chance to mention the "bridge to nowhere."

According to Biden, the "one thing" we will have to slow down in account of the new fiscal burden of the financial crisis is "our pledge to double foreign assistance." Seriously, we can no longer "double" the nickels and dimes in foreign aid because of the rescue plan?

Audience meter obsession update: Biden opens up huge gaps with women, Palin tends to move the lines, one way or the other, for both genders. Interesting.

Stephen Green:

Whew! Palin is slamming Biden for his patriotic-for-paying-taxes gaffe. But the trick is, luring Biden into fresh gaffes. If she doesn’t do that, then I think she’ll have underperformed.

Oops, Palin gaffe: "It's a toxic mess on main street that is affecting Wall Street." I certainly think that, but neither candidate wants to say that. She meant the reverse, but Biden does not seem to have noticed.

Again, on the mortgage debate Biden opens up a massive gender gap on the meter. Biden wants to cut everybody slack on the interest rates on existing mortgages; the women love it, the men do not like it.

Palin is scoring huge with the audience on an incoherent tangent about energy policy. I clearly have no instinct for these things.

Note to Sarah Palin: Work on the climate change riff. But the audience liked it fine.

Biden, though, is definitively declaring man the cause of the warming climate: "that is why the polar ice cap is melting." Unproven, but he is definitive on the subject. Scores big points, and attacks drill, drill, drill, claiming it will take ten years to get the oil.

Same sex marriage stuff: Biden finds a constitutional right to same sex legal privileges. Weird. I wonder what provision he means.

Foreign policy: What's the "real clear plan" for getting out of Iraq?

On the war, Biden's answer is outrageous on the facts, but he is doing very well with the audience. I think that he won this exchange rather decisively. His bit about "John McCain voted against funding for the troops" is transporting B.S., but Palin is not stuffing it down his throat and the audience meter twisters seem to like it.

Biden has an easy command of the facts, even when his facts are BS. Given the pressure on Palin, that’s probably all he needs to do tonight for a draw or better.

Palin says "nukuler," and every time she does it her little audience meter goes up. Just saying.

Palin just dropped Henry Kissinger's name. Let's see if Biden hammers her over it with some distorted claim about Kissinger supporting Obama's approach.

Biden: "Ahmadinejad does not control the security apparatus in Iran. The bureaucracy controls the security apparatus." Well, that can literally be said about the United States, too, but we actually do not know that. I put that very question to an Iran expert at Princeton a couple of years ago, and the answer is that we do not know how Iran would handle the command-and-control of nuclear weapons.

Barack Obama said that elections on the West Bank were a "big mistake"? Ex ante? I had not heard that before. Fact-checkers out there might want to run that one down.

I'm still fascinated with Biden's disproportionate appeal to women, as opposed to men, in the audience meter. Democrats have really mastered the code words. There is another way of looking at this, though: The men and women react differently to Biden's rhetoric, and very similarly to Palin's. Which is better for the country?

Biden: "The surge principles will not work in Afghanistan. We need more troops." He was quoting the top American general in Iraq, but accurately. That is so incoherent I find it hard to believe that any general would say that. Palin calls him out on it rather convincingly, and Biden fumbles the rsponse, obviously not expecting such a cogent response.

I love it, by the way, that the Republicans are forcing the Democrats to be hawkier-than-thou on Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. If I thought for a minute that they meant it I would feel more comfortable about the looming Obama victory. (Sorry guys, I know you hate it when I'm pessimistic.)

Biden calling for intervention in Darfur, now. Is there any war that Obama and Biden will not fight other than Iraq? And is the cost their only real objection to Iraq? It certainly sounds that way in this debate.

By the way, I think Gwen is doing a reasonably good job of being even-handed. Perhaps that was because of all the screaming at the refs before the game, but I have always thought she had a pretty good manner, substantially less snarky and more respectful than most of these mainstream media clowns.

Palin: "Doggonit, let's look ahead!" Indeed we should. I would think that these constant attempts to link John McCain, of all people, with George W. Bush are bigging to sound a bit tinny.

The "extra credit" crack got laughs, as well it should.

On the role of the vice president, Joe Biden will be "sitting in the room," and on point for dealing with Congress. Interesting. Biden as "super whip"?

Not surprisingly, Palin is not at all clear on what she would do as VP. Well, it is a suffficiently stupid job that lots of people are not clear.

Biden attacks Cheney, going on about the "unitary executive" and "dangerous Dick Cheney." Whether dangerous or not, Cheney is unpopular, and Biden scores. It is interesting, though, that these were among the first references to Cheney, almost all the way to the end of the debate.

Biden is really strong on his close, including his artful leveraging of his personal story. It worked very well, and it redlined the audience meter. Palin, however, is struggling with the close.

Oops, it wasn't the close. Biden is very strong on the "John McCain is not a maverick bit." It needs to be responded to forcefully. And I agree with one of my commenters, to Palin: "Stop saying maverick." Well, too late to stop, Biden got his shots in.

My wrap: Biden is more knowledgeable and more polished, but we all knew that. Sarah Palin avoided any big screw ups, and her personality asserted itself in a much more attractive way than in the one-on-one inteviews that I have seen. I think she has effectively neutralized the risk in her nomination, although probably did not achieve huge gains for McCain. Is there "victory" in there somewhere?

More: Glenn Reynolds rounds up the links, and supplies Instareax of his own.

Who won?
Joe Biden
Sarah Palin
Free polls from Pollhost.com

CNN talking heads generally agree that there were "no gaffes" on either side.

Me, I'm still in Madrid having flown here from Dubai all day on Thursday, so it is time to get some shut-eye.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:09:00 PM:

Not a bad start for Sarah. Didn't expect the focus on fear on the soccer field, but not a bad start nonetheless  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:12:00 PM:

I like how she is talking to the American people and not Gwen. She doesn't seem nervous. The more she says, the more I like her.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:14:00 PM:

Am I the only one here? Kinda lonely.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:18:00 PM:

Fine! I guess I'll go at this alone. I like how Sarah artfully dodged the deregulation question. Go Sarah!  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Thu Oct 02, 09:23:00 PM:

I don't think that I'm a fan of any politician dodging relevant questions, but that one was loaded. To answer it the way it was asked was to validate the original assumptions of the questioner, which were not valid.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:23:00 PM:

The Gaffo-matic isn't doing so bad. He seems focused, but playing it a little safe. However, there does seem to be a pretty clear contrast between him and the Cuda.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Thu Oct 02, 09:31:00 PM:

She is focusing too much on her running mate and not enough on herself. People aren't watching this to learn about McCain. His value is not in question.

I think she was coached with the wrong strategy.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:33:00 PM:

Good shot by calling out the East Coast politicians for not letting coastal states drill. And she nicely treads the edge on climate change, i.e. is it real or not.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:36:00 PM:

I think she is doing fine, and is using the right strategy which is to be just herself. I take that back, I think she is doing great!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:41:00 PM:

Holy Cow! The Dems just threw homosexuals under bus. I never thought I would see that happen.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:41:00 PM:

You´re not alone, I just can´t post. Appreciate your comments.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:43:00 PM:

I loved the "I will not answer every question the way you or our moderator may want me to...." comment early on. You go girl!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:47:00 PM:

Half way through the debate and I think the Cuda is doing great. I even think she is winning.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Thu Oct 02, 09:49:00 PM:

Jesus, Biden is totally speaking out of his ass but everyone in the audience is too ignorant to realize it.

"Reading the history of the last 700 years."


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:52:00 PM:

Get these squirrels off me!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:53:00 PM:

She's doing really great. I'm proud of her.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:54:00 PM:

Bullshit! Joe ain't no friend of Israel. He can't even vote that the Iranian Revolutionary Gaurd is a terrorist organization.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 09:58:00 PM:

Ha! That was funny... Biden kept saying talking about the president's policies like it was one big tongue-twister word... "georgebushs" "georgebushs" "georgebushs" "georgebushs"  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 10:02:00 PM:

Damn! The Cuda has the Gaffo-matic flustered on counter-insurgency. Good job Cuda.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 10:07:00 PM:

Gwen is being pretty even-handed. I don't think she has shown any bias. Anyone disagree?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 10:12:00 PM:

I think we are seeing here the same contrast that we saw in the first debate. Young and energetic versus old, slow and measured. And just like we had a battle of bracelets, we are having a battle of Main Streets.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Thu Oct 02, 10:12:00 PM:

She gave Biden an unscheduled opportunity to toss away gay marriage. He shouldn't have gotten that, I don't think.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 10:16:00 PM:

OMG!!! She is kicking Joe's ass! "Say it ain't so Joe" and getting extra credit for watching the debate. Hilarious!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 10:23:00 PM:

Stop saying maverick.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 10:25:00 PM:

Joe goes on the sharp attack 1.5 hours too late. Most people have already tuned out. I'm about to.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 10:32:00 PM:

Sarah is having a strong close, I think, speaking directly to the American people, whereas Joe peaked a little early. She is a strong debater and those that thought Joe would mop up the floor with the newbie are sorely disappointed.

Thanks for letting me comment. I had fun. See ya later.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Thu Oct 02, 10:37:00 PM:

Dawnfire: "So what was your impression?"

Dawn-wife: "I don't know. I didn't come out riled up and rootin' for either one."

Hah! She's not even from Texas.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 10:40:00 PM:

Did Biden say "Bosniacs" he meant "Bosnians"? Were we under attack by aliens at some point?  

By Blogger SR, at Thu Oct 02, 11:00:00 PM:

TH: If you say Biden is scoring with women, I guess it is not for nothing that the Dems are the "mommy party."  

By Blogger SR, at Thu Oct 02, 11:02:00 PM:

By the way, Joe, where in the constitution does it say that a judge's judicial philosophy bears on his or her confirmation to the Supreme Court. That one was teed up for Palin, but she took it like a John Lester fastball.  

By Blogger Pax Federatica, at Thu Oct 02, 11:02:00 PM:

Sarah Palin got off to a flying start on her 2012 presidential campaign.

Unfortunately I doubt she can help McCain much the rest of the way. As long as the Wall Street meltdown dominates the headlines, this will be for all intents and purposes a single-issue campaign, and Obama couldn't have asked for a better issue for it to be. Obama basically won the proverbial lottery there. With that and the MSM on his side, if Obama manages to lose in November it'll be a disgrace he'll never be able to live down.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 11:05:00 PM:

Interesting how, in a parallel environment in football, TH's comments could be that Palin is losing on the board but beating the over/under. I suppose this begs the question as to whether we are handicapping with a derivative victory measure, and whether we should be.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Oct 02, 11:15:00 PM:

I thought I heard it was the "theocracy" that controlled the Iranian security apparatus.

I also note that there is no difference between them on the gay marriage stuff. Ifill held Biden's feet to the fire on that one.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 03, 12:07:00 AM:

I expect Biden to master Palin on details . He has been in US Senate for 36 years. But Sarah proved to me she is very intelligent and capable.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 03, 12:38:00 AM:

anonymous - especially since it was demonstrable that Biden had foreknowledge of the questions.  

By Blogger nick, at Fri Oct 03, 01:32:00 AM:

Biden won

palin surpassed expectation

set em low of course she will

ifill was a moron  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 03, 04:32:00 AM:

I think she mentioned McCain ‘tapping’ her a couple times for a reason. My sister, Nancy, regular TH reader, not hip on slang, didn’t pick up on it. I did.

There are many men in this country that would tap her big time. Biden offered many opportunities for Sarah to just put him down like the cheap hairpieced suit that he is, but she didn’t go for the kill shot.

Rather, she batted him around like the almost dead mouse that he is.

I’m hoping that McCain, like Sarah, have been sandbagging, setting up part of the October surprise. A little political rope-a-dope. Set their expectations low, and hammer it home close to Nov 4 when people remember.

Just like Sarah said … (paraphrasing) … I welcome these opportunities to speak directly to the American People without the edit key of the MSM.

Ohyeh, you betcha, we got it.

Now, in the peoples republic of Carrboro, backyard of Johnny Hairdo with the illegitimate daughter Edwards, with a bunch of hairy legged, hemp panted, pseudo-intellectual enviro hipsters, there were times when you couldn’t hear the TV she was being heckled so loudly. But … I think they realize she kicked his butt. Ohyeh, you betcha.

She could’ve mentioned Biden’s and Obama’s votes for change on energy, taxation, donations from FNM or FRE, votes that enabled this credit meltdown, but I think that’s for John S. McCain Jr. to drive into Obama’s vampire heart.

As for answering the question you want to ... look to the wonderous William J Clinton as a recent master of that oratory art. She outfoxed and outdebated the 35 year senator. I think he knew there were places he couldn't go or she'd skewer him. And his faces to the crowd while he spoke were so Presidential. One bullet from the Oval Office, and this is what we get? all 25 votes he got in Iowa before being disgraced from the race? Yeah.

And the mention of Change … they’re taunting bambi with his own rhetoric, showing that the changemaster is McCain. Ending mentioning she’s ALWAYS BEEN PROUD of America, but what are leaving for our children and children’s children dig on that angry Obama woman …. bwahhahahahaha and may I add, HA.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 03, 04:35:00 AM:

... and she should've mentioned that Joe's there talking about himself, and not his candidate, which was his job ... because Obama has so few votes and so few positions, other than his self-promotion, to talk about.

The debate was to the heartland ... folksy, common, I'm one of you. It worked for Sarah, it didn't for Joe.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 03, 11:04:00 AM:

Biden was "knowledgeable"? On what subject? He doesn't know where in the Constitution his own legislative role is defined, he claimed "we" ejected Hezbollah from Lebanon, he mangled his way through explaining Obama's comments on meeting foreign nutjobs sans precondition or even an advance agenda, he seemed not to be aware that his favorite restaurant closed over twelve years ago and wasn't located where he thought it was, he misstated his own voting record in several instances...

"Knowledge"? Practiced dissimulation more like, covering up chronic stupidity.

My beef is tht Palin should smile, and just have called him out several times, on any one of about a dozen issues. Heck, I would have suggested she plead with him to show some integrity on any issue, just pick one!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 03, 01:21:00 PM:

What's the demographic of the CNN "audience meter" group. Does it in any way reflect CNN's demographic?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 03, 03:06:00 PM:

I thought I heard it was the "theocracy" that controlled the Iranian security apparatus.
Anonymous @ 11:15 PM

I thought I heard the same thing. Was hoping Palin would then ask if that meant Obama was in favor of meeting the "theocracy" without pre-conditions.

Biden's supplement to his answer seemed weird in either case, for it amounted to a nonsequitor, although I'm sure he thought it provided him a chance to reveal a profound grasp and superior knowledge. At least in his mind.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 03, 03:17:00 PM:

Initially I was disappointed Palin didn't go after Obama/Biden more stridently. Biden's framing of Iraq, for instance, was and remains laughable. But on reconsideration I think Palin's strategery was to appear friendly and not-so-confrontational--a strategy that Biden also employed.

The difference is that Palin comes off as 'just a regular person'--something that old Joe just can't quite manage, no matter how much he might try.

The McCain campaign should play this up, come up with a slogan tailored specifically to her strength. Something along the lines of: Palin. A real person. For real change.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 03, 03:21:00 PM:

Final observation: Palin was better prepared, articulate, and more fluent than the moderator.

Maybe she should write a book.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 03, 06:19:00 PM:

Oh, maybe I owe old Joe an apology. According to Peggy Noonan, Mr. Biden "has been for five years righter on Iraq than the Republican administration."

I guess trifurcating the country, collectively whisking our hands and walking away while congratulating ourselves on a job well done was the way to go after all. Way better than persevering through claims of premature defeat and staying until we won.

No, the President was wrong. So then am I. Kudos to Biden.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Oct 04, 09:08:00 AM:

I'm stilled stunned Tigerhawk described Biden as "knowledgeable". I mean, I know he wants to get over to the Prado and all, but let's not get go all slipshod here in the rush out the door.

It's clear, especially now that the smoke has cleared, that he was anything but "knowledgeable". I'm not speaking of Palin here, and I realize your comment was a relative comment, but it's premise still has to be that he was objectively knowledgeable, and he was not. He's a third class mind resting on a bed of highly flexible principles, wrapped in a botox/surgery/hair plugged package cover.  

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