My thinking is that it’s a tie or near-tie, which is very good news for Palin.
Both played to their strengths. Biden was a bit less of a blowhard than I expected, but he repeatedly got some basic facts wrong. His “I was taken out of context” excuse on the “no coal plants here in America” line is laughable. He had some classic Biden moments, confusing Articles I and II in the Constitution and saying America spent more in less than one month in Iraq than in seven years in Afghanistan” off by, oh, 2000%, says the Western Standard.
(And when did the U.S. kick Hezbollah out of Lebanon? “When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said, and Barack said, ‘Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it,’” Biden said.)
Sarah Palin, on the other hand… I was a Gloomy Gus heading into this. I continue to wonder how so many Americans were instantly triggered to a frothing rage by this woman’s debut on the national stage. But after some subpar television interviews, I braced for a rough debate, expecting the experienced blowhard to beat the inexperienced nice girl.
Instead, Palin provided much crisper answers, much more professional. She didn’t seem over-briefed; in fact she was able to rattle off a level of policy detail that worked for the conversational style of her answers. Did she play it safe? Sure. We were all shouting responses at the television. I belted out a loud “Watch the YouTube debate!” when Biden insisted Obama never agreed to meet with Ahmadinejad. But her answers ranged from the great to the okay, with a few wincers thrown in once in a great while.
Did she pass the could-she-lead-in-a-time-of-crisis test? Let me put it this way. I could picture the woman on stage tonight leading in a crisis. I couldn’t picture the woman interviewed by Gibson and Couric doing that.
She’s a natural saleswoman. She certainly saved her prospects for national office in 2012, if she so chooses. She certainly, my guess is, reenergized the GOP base and independents, centrists, and undecided, if they’re honest with themselves, will conclude that they witnessed an impressive woman tonight. Many Democrats will continue to loathe her.