Friday, October 3, 2008

VP Debate Reactions

It's been great to read the reactions to last night's vice-presidential candidates' debate. The predictable people have been gushing about Palin's performance; the usual suspects have been panning her. But first, I've got to join in slamming Joe Biden for his audacity of mendacity. The man just makes stuff up. Jonah Goldberg puts it perfectly this morning (my emphasis):
What struck me the most about the debate – and it probably helped having quintessential Obamaphiles in the room – was how Biden’s “gravitas” is derived almost entirely from the fact that he can lie with absolute passion and conviction. [...] It’s amazing how the impulse to see Biden as the more qualified and serious guy stems almost entirely from his ability to be a convincing b.s. artist. I’m not saying Palin was always honest or unrehearsed, but when she offers up a catchphrase or a talking point, you can tell. When Biden spews up a warm fog of deceitful gassbaggery the response seems to be “what a great grasp of the issues he has!”
Canada's Western Standard calls out his outrageous (and repeated) claim that we spend more in three weeks in Iraq than we have in 6 1/2 years in Afghanistan:
According to the Congressional Research Service, spending on the war in Afghanistan since 2001 has been $172 Billion. Spending in Iraq is, as the Democrats repeatedly mention, a little under $10 Billion a month. In other words, Biden's number is off by, oh, something like 2,000%.
There are far more capable researchers than I tearing apart these statements one by one but that's just my favorite, particularly considering all the flak Palin's been taking for exaggerating (by a few percentage points, not orders of magnitude) Alaska's portion of US energy production.

Okay, I'm done slamming Biden because beyond his disregard for the truth, he did a great job. He's a talented debater and quite personable. I think both candidates were pretty much at the top of their respective games. Biden didn't get angry or make any fabrications likely to be obvious to most swing voters. Palin never got caught out looking completely ignorant. Beyond that, there was some pretty lively back-and-forth between them. All in all, I really appreciated the tone, which was warm, even when they were vociferously disagreeing. It is a credit to Senator Biden that he did not show Palin the kingmakers' contempt she's dealt with from the media types. We would be living in a much better world than we do if the campaigns could manage to duplicate the mutual respect shown by the candidates themselves last night.

On to the meat of the issue, which is conservatives' responses to Palin. Because, as I admitted last night, I wasn't sure about McCain's choice. And I'm still not convinced she was the best choice out there; I didn't like Palin's economic populism last night and was disappointed in her inability to really pin Biden on his foreign policy misunderstandings (Gaza ≠ West Bank, NATO in Lebanon = huh?). Biden essentially outlined a policy of "no democracy for people who aren't likely to vote the way we want them to", and my ideal VP candidate should have been able to tear him apart for that. That aside, however, Palin's who we've got, and last night she showed herself to be credible, which was her biggest obstacle.

John J. Miller lands pretty close to my own opinion: "I'm heartened that others are giving her a big thumbs up. I'm certainly not giving her a thumbs down. It might be said that she was good enough. But I want her to do better, for her sake and ours." If last night was just the start, then I think we've got something. If that's all there is, I'm not confident it'll be enough.

Michael Graham outlines how this will affect the campaign:
Sarah Palin wasn't brilliant. She wasn't able to adlib like Sen. Biden could to score additional points. She let quite a bit of Biden nonsense go unchallenged. But six weeks into the race, she went toe-to-toe with a guy who's run for president twice, and she held her own and even pushed him around a few times. For the average voter, content was a wash which means this ended up as a personality contest. Which means she wins. And that means John McCain goes into the next debate on a level playing field.
So, it's looking to be a contest yet again. After the first presidential debate, there was a case to be made that after McCain's decent performance, Americans just aren't buying what he's selling this year. The size (or existence) of any bump in the polls in the next few days will be the proof on this one.

3 comments:

Uvulapie said...

All I could think of was how Bill Hartman would have done a great Joe Biden.

Evan said...

Oh man, Bill Hartman and Tina Fey doing Biden and Palin. Pure gold.

Shane said...

It's Phil Hartman, by the way. But I agree.