I thought Palin did well, even though she missed some big opportunities. For instance, when Biden blamed the mortgage meltdown on deregulation, Palin mouthed some platitudes about greed and predatory lenders. She should have responded that no financial players needed stronger regulation more than government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and that the Democrats consistently opposed any limitations on Fannie and Freddie’s activities. She did point out that McCain called for greater oversight of the GSEs in 2005, but I would have liked her to have conveyed in stronger terms the extent to which the GSEs caused this crisis, and how the Democrats bear a lot of responsibility for that.
Her folksiness was cloying at times, but no more so than Biden’s incessant references to his kitchen table and how much time he spends hanging out at Home Depot. And she dominated Biden on Iraq, because — like Hillary in those last few Obama-Clinton debates — he couldn’t come up with a convincing way to square his early support for the war with his later opposition to it. He found it even more difficult to square his shifting positions with Obama’s consistent opposition.
I also have to say that, for all the flak we gave her, Gwen Ifill did a good job. Of course, it’s impossible to know how much said flak put her on notice and influenced the tone of her questions. I don’t think this debate was very substantive, but it wasn’t a fiasco either.