Last night gave us our first taste of how Palin performs in a debate, under the hot lights while struggling with tense topics. She was expected to hold her own, while many expected Biden to stumble significantly.
I do think that Palin held her own, despite the glaringly annoying gosh darn its, ya betchas, and golly gee whizzes which she overindulged in. At times it felt as if Palin had become a deliberate parody of herself. Being a former political handler, I'm betting that she was coached this way in the belief that this folksy aw-shucks manner would be appealing to the American public.
Palin's initial semi-thawed stance and continual Andy Griffith style patter simply did not achieve the effect she had intended. Instead of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it felt as if we were in the middle of a bad SNL show at times.
I found it disturbing.
This late in the Presidential campaign, we need to be focusing less on the Cult of Character and more on the issues. (I'll add here that this applies to both sides and I'm sick and tired of Obama's fawning groupies who are merely voting for him because he's black or has sex appeal).
If Palin wants to be the Vice President, she'd better learn to become Presidential material. I recommend she take a page from Hillary Clinton's playbook. However, I do think that Palin is probably quite capable. She's obviously bright and could be quickly brought up to speed on the international arena. Simply because she's not as conversant on all foreign policy matters as Biden is doesn't mean that she won't be able to adapt.
Palin won points when she told Biden that she didn't feel obligated to answer the questions in the way that he or the moderator would like. She also said she was addressing the American public directly, and was using the debate as a platform to communicate. This was an obvious attempt to appear to be the feisty outsider who is trying to reach out to the people, and it possibly worked.
Biden was free from the nervous verbal tics that Palin seemed to display. He was polite and charming even as he demanded answers from Palin. He gave the feel that he was already The Winner who was obligingly doing the right thing by indulging his scrappy opponent in a debate that was already a foregone conclusion. He escaped being patronizing, which would have been his undoing.
Both sides had factual errors which are detailed elsewhere (and there were plenty of mistakes) so I won't get into any details here. Overall, I'd say it was a wash in the substance of the debate, but the winner was Joe Biden who came across as polished, caring, and well-versed in all areas.
Let me make it clear: I prefer Palin over Biden. But I cannot agree with the other conservative pundits and commentators who are attempting to make Biden's grins into leers, his corrections into snide asides, and his arguments into blatant lies. If we cannot truthfully and objectively assess both sides, then we can hardly hold the candidates to such standards.