Thursday, October 2, 2008

The BIG Show!!

The expectations were low enough for both Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin as they entered tonight's debate. For their part, all of the star-spangled media constellations came together to count it a pointless exercise, declaring - but for the trifling matter of counting actual votes - the election itself to be over. The MSM narrative suggested that the current economic malaise played into the hands of Barack Obama and his Democrat stalwarts; all Gaffe-master Biden would have to do was avoid tickling his throat with his toes.

Ms. Palin had another idea.

Her job tonight was to help relaunch the McCain campaign and vindicate his judgment in picking her in the first place. My sense is that she acquitted herself well enough; her initial request to Sen. Biden, "Can I call you 'Joe?' " set a positive tone. From the outset, Biden seemed to be handicapped from the standpoint of having to read from someone else's script. While Palin's opening seemed tentative, she did let Americans see the folksy side as the debate progressed, and was not afraid to throw some elbows while parrying Biden's thrusts.

On second thought, Palin saw her task as to assert - to thrust, not to parry at all. She seemed intent on reiterating GOP talking points on several topics, particularly in chiding Biden for "pointing backwards" in denigrating the work of the Bush administration, addressing foreign policy vis-a-vis Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan and speaking of her record of cutting taxes (while touching on Biden's dubious assertion that paying more taxes is "patriotic.")

The fact that many of her answers did not comport with the expectations of the conflicted moderator did not dissuade her from driving home the point that an Obama-Biden ticket would break the piggy banks of most Americans. Both candidates did their best to defend their man, but it was Palin who seemed to most admire her principal; she even took up McCain's tack of distancing herself from the "huge blunders" made by the current administration. At the same time, she scored points in showing that she would not be afraid to disagree with McCain, particularly in the case of drilling for oil in ANWR.

Again, the expectations for Biden and Palin were not especially lofty. For the most part, both met the diminished standard. While I will not opine on who won the debate, I will make a few "fact check" asides:

- Biden on clean coal

- Biden on Iraq

- Obama meeting with dictators without preconditions (see here and here)

- Kissinger on meeting with Iran without preconditions

- The practicality of a surge in Afghanistan

Last week, John McCain handed the debate baton to Sarah Palin. She ran her sole lap without dropping the baton, and prepares to hand it back to McCain. He has two more debates and some 30-odd days to make his case. I wish him Godspeed.

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