FINAL THOUGHTS: Palin didn't hurt her ticket, but they were eleven points down when this started. She had to do more than that.
10:30PM - Biden comes back with a bare-bones, stripped down, close-the-deal pitch to Joe Lunchbox, and, once again, scores. I love this man. He's a Democrat and he's not afraid of being a Democrat and he's not going to roll over and play dead when the other side tries to pull this smug, bully nonsense. I give the event to Biden 4-1, with Palin winning on the troop funding thing.
10:28PM - The "without the filter" nonsense isn't going to play. People saw Palin being unable to answer those questions posed to her by Katie Couric, and they KNOW it didn't have anything to do with filters.
10:27PM - I love the "don't question their motive" answer from Biden, but he could have brought it back to respecting McCain. Palin's answer certainly doesn't sound like an overture to bipartisanship, at all.
10:25PM - Biden turns his answer about change into the Judiciary, and scores points seamlessly, Palin, on the other hand, looks like she's bitching about not getting something passed. She sounds a lot like Bush when he was asked if he's made any mistakes.
10:22PM - Biden is as sick of hearing the "maverick" thing, as the rest of us are. Only problem is that he's left himself open to the charge that the things McCain has differed with Bush on aren't important, and one of them is torture.
10:21PM - Palin says "Maverick" again, and the ticket drops another point in the polls? Biden's gonna ask her how McCain isn't George Bush III, AGAIN.
10:19PM - Palin calls herself and her running mate reformers, again, which makes people like me want to shoot ourselves. Biden comes back with some strange personal narrative stuff, but in the end it comes around to being a single parent and... sorry, Republicans, that choke-up was totally genuine.
10:18PM - Another terrific question from Ififl. Does each of these people have a weakness that we don't know about? Gosh, I'm glad I'm not up there right now. Palin's trying to emote with the WalMart crowd (and probably does a little), and in the process reminds us how little she's reminded us of McCain at the top of the ticket.
10:16PM - Ifil wants to press Palin on Cheney's interpretation on the VP job, and Palin just strings bullshit syllables about being an executive. She hasn't done this very much tonight so she'll probably get away with it. Biden comes out swinging on Cheney, and he makes Palin looks like an idiot without calling her an idiot, because he answers the question.
10:15PM - Biden gives a great answer on how he was sold on being Obama's VP.
10:13PM - And this question goes to Gwyn Ifil, for asking both of them a tough question about the position of the Vice Presidency. Palin stumbles on her zinger-line, which makes her look bitchy, and then goes all wonky with her last minute.
10:12PM - What is she talking about? No Child Left Behind?
10:11PM - "Say it ain't so, Joe," and "doggone it" isn't going to play, I don't think. People want change, and they don't get it from someone who can't acknowledge that anything's wrong.
10:10PM - Biden is ready to draw the distinction between change vs. more of the same, and he's going to score big with this.
10:07PM - The middle class policy is a great answer, and so is the getting-us-out-of-Iraq answer, and so is the emoting directly to the camera on how big the stakes are. Palin's on, now, and let's see how she does: This "maverick" thing is not going to play much longer with the public, I don't think. People are coming over to the Obama/Biden ticket and Palin's not going to win them back by calling herself a maverick.
10:06PM - Palin is playing this hand about Biden and Obama and McCain on Iraq very, very hard -- she's not going to get what she wants out of it, but it doesn't always matter because she looks tough.
10:05PM - Will Palin turn around and call it "straight talk" that she can't answer Biden's point on McCain's Iraq policy?
10:03PM - "I'm a Washington outsider" is a set-piece, and those grins at the camera make it look like she thinks she's scoring points, which is making her look arrogant (and wrong). Biden did a great answer on this subject and it wasn't a for-it-before-he-was-against-it answer, at all.
10:01PM - Great answer on "having the stomach for success," because that brings it back to the failed track-record of the guys in charge. Biden is ready on the vote for use-of-force question before Palin even brings it up.
9:59PM - Non-proliferation, by the way, is an example of Obama working across the aisle, which is something the Republicans have said Obama never did. Palin's wrong about the General on the ground in Afghanistan, and the biggest sign that she's struggling is that she left the non-proliferation issue on the table.
9:57PM - Ah, there it is -- Barack Obama as the boogeyman. No worries, Biden comes back with... wait a minute... all the fact and no fear about using them. Again, again, again, again -- Go, Joe, Go! McCain is against the test-ban treaty? Holy shit; I didn't even know that.
9:56PM - Palin surrenders the field on how McCain's policies would differ -- which is all she can do, because they aren't.
9:54PM - The "pointing fingers" issue is not gonna play, precisely because the rest of us are pointing fingers too. Biden isn't going to let her get away with that. He comes back with the question of how John McCain's policies will differ from George Bush's, and delivered in a way that will fit nicely into a soundbites.
9:53PM - Hey, anybody still remember Palin's great answer about Israel? Biden is all over this, and the Jewish vote is going to remember his answer a lot better.
9:51PM - Palin panders to the Jewish vote, but on balance she gives a good answer. Biden is ready for Israel answer, and brings things back to the question Ifil actually asked--which is a nice moment, if anyone notices.
9:49PM - So, let's review: Palin loves diplomacy, but only with people who don't disagree with her? Biden comes back with the facts, and hits her on the contradiction. He knows exactly how to push the thing back our way. I hate to say this (since I was wrong about the first debate, and I thought Obama had lost), but I think Biden is winning this handily. McCain won't sit down with Spain?
9:47PM - You know something? Every time Palin and McCain say "Iraq," we pick up another 100 votes. The "reckless" assertion on peace talks is an old note, and Ifil has hit Palin up about her contradiction.
9:45PM - Pakistan is a fallow field for Biden, especially after Palin hamstrung herself at the cheesesteak factory.
9:43PM - Biden isn't going to let her just keep hitting this same note -- which is how she defeated her opponents in her previous elections.
9:42PM - "Your plan is a white flag of surrender" is only as good as peoples' ability to forget that Biden just pointed out the agreement we have with the Iraqi government on the question.
9:40PM - Palin shows up on the Iraq question loaded for bear on the troop-funding issue. Biden comes back with the plan, and that's great. Then he hits back on the troop-funding question the same way Obama did. This might raise serious questions (again?) on Palin's ability to avoid repeating something that has already been disproven. Biden really stole this one from her--I thought she was going to win this question.
9:39PM - ROUND ONE GOES TO....
Palin did better on the domestic policy stuff than she could have, but she didn't do much to stanch the bleeding.
9:38PM - There's no nuance on the other side and Governor Palin knows it. And Biden just nailed it. He's got Palin dead-to-rights, here.
9:37PM - Biden doesn't hide from same-sex benefits, which is great. No waffling, no nuance, no subtlety. He's got the Constitution on his side, and he knows it. Palin can't respond very well since they have same-sex benefits in Alaska, at least on points. She says she's tolerant, which might play (as long as nobody checks into her speeches).
9:35PM - The "drill, baby drill" clarification is easily the most bizarre moment so far in this event. Besides, the line "It is safe to drill and we need to do more of that" isn't going to resonate nearly as well as the idea of cheaper gas.
9:33PM - Biden is totally ready on this. I can't *BELIEVE* that they didn't prep Palin for the climate change issue. She should have said, "No, I don't think it's man-made," and it would've been less damaging. Biden calls for clean-coal, and points out that McCain voted twenty times against alternative fuel. If Palin doesn't swat that down, it's a commercial tomorrow morning.
9:32PM - She's dodging on the "is it man-made" question, and the American public will get that. She's a Texas Oilman in a skirt, and the public has had quite enough of Texas oilmen for awhile.
9:31PM - Palin *still* isn't ready on the climate change issue???
9:30PM - Palin sounds like she's running for governor of Alaska. Or, at least, running for the job of Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff.
9:27PM - Biden is ready on the bankruptcy bill, and he's ready with the facts about the home mortgage question. Look, folks, at this moment Palin may be getting a few sound-bites, but Biden is winning this thing with anyone who's watching. And after all that grinning about Biden's bankruptcy bill, she comes back with energy? That was bizarre.
9:26PM - Biden gets points on the windfall profits tax, big time. He's up at the high-end of the emotional range where if he gets any more pissed off he'll seem overheated. Palin, meanwhile, says that she would've voted to make it harder for people to declare bankruptcy. She's pandering and I think most people will get that pretty quickly.
9:25PM - I hope Biden comes back to the oversight question, after he gets done skewering Palin on the energy bill.
9:23PM - Here's a question: If you were leaning toward Obama but weren't sold, have you seen anything that changes your mind? Palin is groping for catch-phrases, and she's changing the subject. She scores points by talking about energy but Biden will come back with the truth about Palin's record in Alaska on energy policy.
9:21PM - One risk that had been worried about may be percolating to the surface: is Biden over-playing his hand? I just asked my co-audience if he's winning as much as I think, and they said "yes."
9:20PM - Biden is ready on the small business tax increase, and he's ready on the $5000 health care plan, and he's completely unafraid. He's talking directly to the audience, he's got the numbers, and he's kicking ass.
9:19PM - Palin's been prepped with the small business answer, but the "higher taxes is patriotic" line is something Biden never actually said, and addressing government in the second-person singular makes her look silly. The health care follow-up isn't getting back to McCain's position on oversight. Biden's "I don't know where to start" is terrific.
9:16PM - Pardon my French, but I love that Biden isn't pussy-footing around with this smug bitch. She's why the rest of us are Democrats, and he's not about to let her walk all over him as they'd suggested he would.
9:15PM - Palin just refused, openly, to respond to the charge that McCain didn't support government oversight until last week, and came back with gibberish. Her first Katie Couric moment.
9:14PM - Palin comes back with tax policy? Biden's loaded for bear -- and he's coming back with the fact that Palin didn't answer the question.
9:12PM - Biden's been prepping for the deregulation. The public is learning that McCain is not a champion of government oversight, and Biden pressed the point, perfectly.
9:09PM - Palin is wrong in her use of "predator lender" as a figure of speech, that's not who made this mess; that's a completely different group of institutions. Also, Biden knows what her running-mate's record is on government oversight.
9:05PM Biden's right, the follow-up was completely forgotten about by Ifil, and Biden is hitting this very hard and he's right. Palin's coming across smug and most people know what McCain meant when he said the fundamentals of the economy are strong. The wink, in particular, is a problem.
9:03PM Biden Comes Out Swinging -- great opening with the failed economic policies, including a dig on deregulation. Palin appears to be grinning to herself, like a smug, know-it-all bully from the right wing, which is what she is. She comes on with the soccer-game narrative, which is a comfortable opening for her and follows it up with fear-mongering. Certainly she doesn't sound like the same person who couldn't name a print media source a few days ago. She's wrong about John McCain, though, on the question of his position on oversight.
9:00PM ROUND ZERO GOES TO....
Nice gesture on the part of Governor Palin, if you heard it: "Can I call you Joe?" Very classy. Joe wasn't so bad, either.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
FINAL THOUGHTS: Palin didn't hurt her ticket, but they were eleven points down when this started. She had to do more than that.