Friday, October 3, 2008

Afterthoughts on the VP Debate

After a night to think about it, I have some thoughts to share about the Vice-Presidential debate. And I've determined the order of the discussion by a coin flip. Let's start with Joe Biden.

- After Barack Obama came off as being an angry kid at last week's Presidential debate, there was a lot of unseen pressure on Biden to change the tone. Unfortunately, he didn't. He came off as an angry grandpa, which just doesn't resonate with the American people. Just ask Bob Dole. Democrats are of two minds on letting Biden do his thing, but after last night, that comes with an additional risk. The election is far from being sewn up, and the more Biden acts like Biden, the more that election gets put in jeopardy.

- I may torque off some of my readers with this, but I think Sarah Palin did a good job. Not great, but good. She was up against long odds, both with the media mostly mocking her and with the debate set-up making it effectively 2 on 1, thanks to moderator Gwen Ifill's pro-Obama book in the works. But, she managed to hold it together and put together a stronger than expected package. Was it as good as some say? Not so much. But I think she was buoyed by Biden's sub par performance.

- The media did their best to make this a no-win situation for Palin. The day before the debate, the media start talking about how well she did at a 2006 gubernatorial debate as a means to raise expectations to a point where she could do nothing but fail. Combine that with the Ifill situation, and you could tell the Leftists were salivating as the possibility of a Palin flame-out. That didn't happen. Palin ultimately came across as articulate and, dare I say it, human. Any undecided voters watching the debate had to have seen or felt that.

- Was it just me, or were some of the questions Ifill asked rather pointed and designed to undermine Palin? Ifill did try to balance it out by asking Biden a similar question, but the choice of questions left me cold. Some were irrelevant, like the question about gay marriage. Seriously, when will the Vice-President ever have to wrestle with gay marriage? It's not that important an issue. But the question that really made me cringe was the question involving what the two VP candidates would do should John McCain or Barack Obama die in office. Not only was it a pointed question designed to make Palin look unprepared for the office, but the way it was structured showed a level of disdain for both Palin and Biden as though they were irrelevant. If they were so irrelevant, why even have a debate?

- Biden tried to connect with the American people after Palin made that connection early on. With his frequent references to where he grew up, the people he knows where he comes from, and what they know, he laid the groundwork to try to draw on the same image Palin has. But after he almost teared up talking about his late wife and the car accident that took her life, it became obvious that it was all an act. He wasn't trying to make a real connection with the American people; he was trying to look like he connected on the same level Palin does. And he failed. What Biden tried to copy, Palin has naturally.

Now, for the winner of the debate. I give it to Palin on points because she didn't knock out Biden, but she landed a number of punches that left Biden reeling. She was also helped by Biden not being as prepared as he should have been. I think he underestimated her, and it put him on the defensive early on, leaving him having to play catch-up for the rest of the debate. Even if McCain/Palin doesn't win in November, I think we've seen the emergence of a front-runner for 2012.

No comments: