David Kirkpatrick

October 2, 2008

Veep debate: Biden v. Palin

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:06 pm

The sole vice presidential debate. McCain team only wanted one debate, along with not allowing Palin to give a press conference to this day since the announcement of her as the veep pick an unprecedented event in US presidential politics.

It’s interesting because toward the end Palin made what sounded like an honest plea that she likes speaking directly to the American public instead of the canned media events — such as with Gibson, Hannity and notoriously Couric — which before tonight was her only real national exposure aside from the convention.

As for the event, I don’t how it’s going to play out in spinning the performances of Biden and Palin, but as an actual debate Biden mopped the floor with Palin by (mostly) answering the questions asked and more importantly, actually rebutting Palin’s points. In contrast Palin regularly avoided the actual question by giving a one word answer and immediately stating she wanted to talk about a completely separate topic.

At one point early on in rebuttal on the second question she actually announced she wasn’t going to answer the questions asked by the moderator or rebut points made by Biden. Incredible! It really seemed to me she was rushing into her talking points as they came to her, not when it would make sense to us them in answering the question at hand.

Tonight’s debate was held in St. Louis at the Washington University in St. Louis at 9:00 pm EDT. The moderator was Gwen Ifill from “The Newshour” and “Washington Week” on PBS.

Immediately Palin looks a little nervous, but it’s not a completely fair observation on my part because I’m expecting a nervous Alaskan governor.

8:03 my time, it’s on …

Head below the fold for some more of my reactions to the debate, plus a bit of news on Troopergate out of Alaska.

Biden win a coin toss and goes first on a question about the bailout. He attacks the Bush 43 years and places the blame for the mess on those policies while praising Obama’s proposals. Palin immediately goes into some tale of fear in average American parents, pretty much throws Bush under the bus as well and brings up McCain’s bipartisan efforts last week. A very bad point since his efforts are being viewed as a complete failure.

Biden has a very weak rebuttal (one of the few as it turns out) and Palin namechecks “maverick” going so far as to push the “team of mavericks” brand.

The second question is on subprime lending and the mortgage problem. Palin goes first and attacks Wall Street, namechecks “joe six-pack and hockey moms” and gets a little angry. Biden has strong answer comparing Obama and McCain’s reaction to the subprime issue. Palin inexplicably rebuts with something about tax increases — completely off topic — and her statement really made zero sense.

After a short rebuttal by Biden she hits the, “I’m not going to answer the question asked,” comment. About the worst thing you can say and do in a debate by basically stating you’re going to monologue what’s been pumped into your head and you’re not capable of actually debating the points.

The third question is on taxes and Biden opens with a strong answer, Palin conflates business taxes with personal taxes in her rebuttal and, like McCain last week, uses this odd sing-songy voice during her answer. By this point she is visibly tight and her voice is a tad unsteady. Biden hits a strong rebut again. This theme will play out most of the rest of the way.

The debate lasted nineteen questions, plus the closing statement and covered some question from last week’s presidential debate, bankruptcy law, energy policy, same sex benefits, exit strategy for Iraq, Iran/Pakistan threat, talking to the enemy, Israel, intervention in foreign nuclear efforts, Darfur, how they would handle becoming president, what is the veep role, thoughts on Cheney’s view of veep role, personal Achille’s Heel, issue change due to changed circumstances and changing the tone in Washington, D.C.

Almost the entire debate involved Biden making strong points and staying largely on topic and Palin speaking with authority about either some garbled nonsense or the wrong subject. Biden did a good job of not attacking her personally, but strongly rebut her points and particularly her lack of points in the second half of the debate.

Palin looked visibly nervous at times, displayed a number of tics such as biting her lip and immediately stopping biting her lip and smacking her lips while answering. And she did that weird sing-song thing just like McCain did last week. She also became quite flushed and exhibited a large vein on her chest for a large portion of the event.

This thing will be spun for the next days or maybe even weeks, but Palin did not do anything to bring independents back to her fold with the non-answer on a regular basis. Biden won by sticking with the concept of a debate and not coming across as a haranguing old man lording over the overmatched “hockey mom” from “main street.”

And if the debate wasn’t bad enough for Team McCain tonight, news leaked out of Alaska today that the Alaskan GOP is trying to squelch Troopergate. This won’t play well in the lower 48.

From the link:

A state judge heard arguments Thursday over a Republican request to block a legislative investigation into whether Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power when she fired her public safety commissioner.

Judge Peter Michalski heard from both sides in the fight over the Alaska Legislature’s investigation but did not rule immediately. Attorneys in the case expected a decision later in the day.

The probe is looking into whether Palin, who is the Republican vice presidential candidate, and others pressured Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan to fire a state trooper, who was involved in a contentious divorce from Palin’s sister, and then fired Monegan when he wouldn’t dismiss the trooper. Palin says Monegan was ousted over budget disagreements.

Five Republican state lawmakers argued that the legislative body which ordered the investigation exceeded its authority and that the probe is being politically manipulated to damage Palin before election day.

Update — Looks like that suit has already been squashed.

An Alaska judge dismissed a suit brought by state GOP legislators that aimed to stop the Trooper-Gate investigation.

Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski wrote in his decision that “it is legitimately within the scope of the legislature’s investigatory power to inquire into the circumstances of surrounding the termination of a public officer the legislature had previously confirmed.”

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: