Saturday, October 04, 2008

My take on the veep debates: Palin escapes with a win

I had discussions all day long yesterday with folks both in person and online about whom I felt won the debate, and I thought long and hard to figure out what to say. It finally hit me: Palin didn't so much win as she escaped with a win. Here's why I say that:

Joe Biden had mucho more experience in this sort of thing. It should have been in the bag for him. Not only that, Palin was damaged goods after having weak showings in her two interviews. On top of that, the debate was being moderated by a seasoned professional in Gwen Ifill. And yet, a comedy of errors led to Palin getting away with one.

I was told that Biden held back because Palin's a woman, and he didn't want to be viewed as sexist. I say: Pfft! How long did he know that Palin was going to be his debating opponent? And in all that time, he couldn't round up the local coven - er, I mean, a group of feminists to help coach him in debating female opponents without appearing sexist? How many feminists are in the Democratic Party anyway? (it could be that the Dem fems are still mad about the turnout of the primaries...)

Next, Biden had concentrated his attacks on McCain as a way to avoid criticizing Palin. Others told me that McCain is the top of the GOP ticket and that it was legitimate to criticize him. Yes, I agree with that - but, if the Dems wanted to show that Palin is too inexperienced for the veep job, then this was the time to do it. Here the Dems had an opportunity to take a wounded Palin down in probably the most public way that they're going to get before the election, and they let that opportunity slip away.

Not only that, this was a debate between vice presidential candidates! Their job in this debate is to show why they would be the better man (or woman) for the job. Part of doing that is to demonstrate why your opponent is NOT qualified. The closest Biden got was his "bridge to nowhere" comment, which actually got a brief rise out of the crowd that was supposed to be silent. But he didn't follow it up - instead continuing his attacks on McCain. Biden really needed a "You're no Jack Kennedy" Lloyd Bentson moment, and it didn't come. I blame Biden's failure to capitalize on finishing off the damaged goods that was Sarah Palin on poor coaching and preparation by the Democratic leadership. Look, do they want to win this election or not?

Next, in regards to Gwen Ifill, I felt that she handled herself professionally, and even said so here on my blog. However, others told me that she pulled her punches and didn't follow up on some of Palin's responses or chide her for going off track of the topic that was being discussed at the time. Others still said that this book controversy thing got into her head. I still feel that she is professional enough to deal with that, but I seem to be in the minority on that view. Why don't they think she could handle it? No one I asked who criticized Ifill's performance have been able to tell me that one.

As for Palin herself, her performance was well enough to save her a total meltdown. There were some of the flashes that got her in the national stage in the first place - even if she did use the word "maverick" half a gajillion times. Some critics chided her folksy twang, but maybe that's the way she talks - because 5 weeks into a national election is not enough time to lose one's twang. She went off track a few times, and didn't answer the question at other times. The shorter time for response benefitted her, but I think it did the same for Biden who has a tendency toward wordiness.

I'd rate her performance about a C+ at best, and she got away with a win mostly on the charity of her opponent rather than her own efforts. By the way, I give Biden a B-, but no more, because he didn't accomplish what he should have accomplished, and that was to stare Palin down. That Palin escaped being taken down completely is enough for me to award her the win.

Score for the debates so far:

Obama: 1
Palin: 1

Two debates to go. As usual, I'll be giving my take on how they did. Stay tuned!


blackink said...

J.P., honestly, that's the lowest bar ever set for a veep candidate before: she didn't embarass herself, thus she exceeded expectations.

I mean, obviously, I'm a bit biased here but there's no way that anyone can argue that she has a legitimate grasp of the issues. And certainly it'd be nearly impossible to say she's more prepared for the job than Biden.

I thought Biden put on a better performance than Obama, to be honest. He was direct, aggressive, gracious and, in that moment where he choked up about his family, genuine.

I dunno, comrade. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

But how about them Frogs?

John P. Araujo said...

I was waiting for your response, dude! :-D

I agree that Biden did better, and I actually gave him a better grade than Palin. And now that you mention it, I think he did do better than Obama did in his debate. I just feel that Biden didn't make the killing stroke when Palin was primed for one. She was damaged goods going in, and came out with no additional damage when it was expected that she would bomb. That lack of a killing stroke was why I gave Palin the nod for this debate even though I graded Biden better than Palin. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, but that's my take.

As for the Frogs, I think they should have used Marcus Jackson last week against OU, since Andy Dalton was proving immobile. We should have been 6-0 instead of 5-1. Yeah, OU had a revenge factor going in, but heck, we coulda done it.