Thursday, October 2, 2008

Post-Veep Debate Reaction

The overwhelming question coming in to tonight's debate centered around the notion of whether Sarah Palin is able to assume the responsibilities of the presidency should the need arise. And in all fairness I think she proved she is. She had no 'major' gaffes or stumbles and managed to speak passionately into the camera without abandoning the hockey mom persona she has taken such care to cultivate. Yet I argue, so what? For me the defining question shouldn't be whether she is able but whether she is qualified. And I think on that distinction, tonight's debate affirmed what we have all been saying so far-- she is not.

A few quick thoughts:
  • Gov. Palin on more than one occasion referred to Sen. Barack Obama as merely Barack and even once merely referred to him as Obama. I know this is petty, but a little respect while addressing a national audience never hurt anybody.

  • Her regurgitation of talking points was so repetitive and staged is was laughable. This was never more evident than in her multiple, "Oh I am glad you brought up _____" moments. She had a checklist, and doggonnit if a moderator was going to prevent her from getting through every note card put before her.

  • Joe Biden's refusal to correct Palin when she referenced General McClellan-- yes he's from the civil war-- instead of the correct General McKiernan, was subtly effective and provides fuel for the fire down the home stretch. Well played on his part.

  • I thought the most memorable segment of tonight's debate was the two minutes Biden devoted to the shredding of McCain's maverick status. Alas Palin's note cards didn't cover this so she was surprisingly at a loss for words.
WaPo's Eugene Robinson nails it:
Exactly an hour into the debate, Joe Biden began an answer by saying, "Facts matter, Gwen."

To him, maybe. To Sarah Palin, maybe not. The pattern, so far, has been one of Biden presenting facts and Palin countering with… saying stuff. Sometimes she throws in a fact, but mostly she seems to be offering a string of approximate policy positions, encomiums to the American spirit, disputed interpretations of Barack Obama's record and anecdotes from Alaska.
Maverick he is not:


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