On the whole, I thought Palin did a very good job above and beyond the expectations — that is, if she showed up not dribbling cerebral spinal fluid out the corner of her mouth she would do just fine. But Palin did very well on the merits. So well, that the I’m sure the goal posts have moved from “she’s a discredit to politics” to “she won the debate, but it won’t help McCain anyway.” My pessimism about how the media will yet again try and vilify Palin without cause aside, here are my other observations of the night:
- Did Gwen Ifill get caught up in the curtains on the way out the door and decide to wear them? (Ok, maybe that’s petty but I’m in no mood to be charitable to her.)
- Joe Biden is prone to interjections and non-sequiturs that are utterly bizarre. At one point, appropo nothing, he announced “The american public has a stomach for success.” Really? What does that mean? The American public also has a stomach for chili, but I’m not sure it’s relevant.
- Whatever you want to say about Palin’s performance, her gaffes just weren’t as bad as Biden’s. That part when he was talking about gay marriage and he said, “that’s in the constitution.” Oy. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt in that he was trying say everyone has the same rights, but that’s not how you communicate to voters on a sensitive issue. By contrast, Palin — supposedly the crazy religious zealot — gave a fantastic answer on the question that made her seem quite reasonable and moderate.
- Hands down the worst answer of the night (and maybe of the eleventy billion debates so far this campaign) was Biden’s answer on Afghanistan. Let me try and unpack it: “Well, the commanding general in Afghanistan says a surge won’t work, but the general above him, Petraeus at Centcom, says it will. But Obama’s called for a surge in Afghanistan and we need that, but I’ve never supported McCain’s military strategy which is, by the way, the surge. Oh look, here’s a picture of a cat with a piece of bacon taped to it.”
- Biden said, “This is the most important election since 1932.” Really? Surely, he’s kidding. Even if it were true, those kinds of things are really only judged in retrospect. Certainly not by people playing a major role in the election, clearly desperate to inflate their own role in history because they’ve spent 36 years in the Senate and haven’t made a significant mark.
- Speaking of making a mark, it was a cheap shot to go after McCain for voting against the Violence Against Women Act. I know it’s basically Biden’s sole significant accomplishment — in 36 years all he can say is he managed to convince his colleagues that violence is bad. But even still, that meany McCain voted against it — but you know who else voted against it? The Supreme Court, which decided that parts of it were unconstitutional. McCain had good reasons to vote against it.
The bottom line is this — people can talk about Palin all they want, but in a just and decent universe everyone would focus on Biden. He’s just that bad. On a clear day he can see his mouth from his brain and he’s pretty much eked out a career holding the exact wrong positions at the exact wrong time. Joe Biden is proof that Americans are kindly forgiving people.