Friday, October 03, 2008

Biden vs. Palin: Who Won?

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.


Ed Abbey said...

I absolutely agree with you on this one but after talking about it with a gaggle of coworkers around the water cooler, you and I seem to be in a minority. They all thought Palin handled herself brilliantly. They all said something along the lines that well she didn't answer many questions but she didn't fumble either. I felt like she was a doll pulling her own string attached to her back repeating the same four soundclips that you hear in the highlight real of stump speeches. Becoming a parody of herself is the best way I've heard this described.

The Doozie said...

Obama is a trojan horse

undergroundlogician said...

You think she was handled? I don't think so.

What I do find irritating is calling what we saw last night a debate. It was none of the sort.

Each candidate gets to give 2 minute, 1 minute and 30 second sound-bites. Big deal. I don't think it will have that big of an effect, other than calm the nerves of the base of both parties.

Saur, I think you're being a bit hard on her. Unless you can prove that she is NOT the way she portrayed herself last night, and that she had handlers "dumb her down", I think she was entirely herself. Maybe you don't like that part of her.

I think the greater issue is that we have become so cynical, myself included, that anything genuine can come out of government. Politicians are known since Socrates to be actors, liars, concealers, obfuscators, sophisticates, and in the last several decades, a willing and collaborating media. We just don't know at times what is really happening. WE are being handled, and we HATE it. So, we doubt...everything. If someone comes off genuine, we first believe that they were handled to appear genuine.

At best it's a judgment call. I don't know what else to say.

Scott said...

How many people out there do you think are not voting for Obama just because he is black? I am pretty sure that it is a high number. So, perhaps that will offset the vote of those who are voting for him just because he is.

I didn't catch the whole debate, but Palin does make me nervous. i am sure that she is intelligent, but to be a hearbeat away from the Presidency, well that is simply terrifying.

daveawayfromhome said...

"...could be quickly brought up to speed".

I dont want a candidate who could be informed, I want one who was interested enough in the job to already be informed.
Obama cant be any more of a Trojan horse than Bush was, and even if turns out to be a big mistake, maybe he'll be a mistake in the opposite direction, and cancel out the effects of Dubya.
Black, white, muslim, liberal, the point of voting for Obama is that he is not of the crowd that's created the mess this country's in. Two trillion dollars folks, that'll be the legacy of the last eight years. Two trillion dollars that we dont have, for decisions that many of us thought were dead wrong, and will still be extracted from our wallets.

As far as I'm concerned, the best vote you could make is for anybody who's not in office right now. Throw them all out, then throw them all out again in the next election. Maybe then they'll remember who they're supposed to be working for.

Anonymous said...

If Americans would stop making the election out to be American Idol we might have a chance to change things.

I hate politicians and the sheeple who follow them blindly.


undergroundlogician said...


What terrifies me is Obama actually becoming president. He's an empty chad away. Compared to Palin, he has very little executive experience.


What you're secretly looking for to offset Bush is a conservative. Someone who's mean with numbers and wants accountability. We don't have that in McCain; frankly he's a wuss. But, he's far better than the Marxist "community organizer."

Egad! One empty chad away...

Saur♥Kraut said...

Ed, Really? Well, remember that 95% of society has only average or subnormal IQs and take some small comfort in that. You're in the minority, and it simply can't be helped that you see things more perceptively than most do. And since I still favor the McCain ticket, I see it as a positive. Let's hope Joe Sixpack agrees in general!

Doozie, no doubt!

UL, She was definately coached by an expert handler, which would be a given (they all are). That puts her on a level playing field, however. The trick with a good politician is knowing when to take expert advice, and knowing when it's not appropriate.

You're right, it wasn't what we would consider to be a classic debate.

I've seen Palin speaking before she came onto the national stage. She was never so Mayberry-country girl as she was last night. In fact, I never noticed ANY awshuckisms in her major speeches before she ascended the stage at the Republican nomination.

I am not being cynical - just realistic. I would have liked her to sound a little more genuine and a little less like something out of Leave it to Beaver.

Scott, If the full 8% of white people that admitted they might be racist would all vote against Obama, please remember that the majority of the blacks in the USA are voting FOR him, simply because of his race. And blacks are 12.7% of our total population, so I think the weigh-out is in favor of the black racists, not the white ones.

Of course not all black people are racist, but here in the south I believe that the majority of blacks are. Perhaps it's different in other parts of the country... but I don't see it reflected in any TV or news shows, in their music, or their pop culture. In fact, Hollywood and the media generally encourage black racism.

I don't understand it. I don't see why everyone feels the need to polarize around someone or something because of the color of his or their skin. And I don't see how anyone can believe that skin color is the summation of the person.

As for Palin being only a heartbeat away... Yeah, but Obama is even closer and he's got the same amount of experience (or less), so that's even scarier.

Frankly, all our candidates suck.

Dave, You wrote I dont want a candidate who could be informed, I want one who was interested enough in the job to already be informed. However, NO candidate is ever fully informed before they come to the White House, and that's what they have advisors for.

I agree about throwing the lot of them out. It's too bad that can't happen.

Knot, so true.

UL, I agree.

daveawayfromhome said...

@ UL: What I want is a candidate who cares more about human beings than corporations. One who doesnt operate (regardless of what he says) under the feudal philosophy that what's good for the master is good for the plebe.
That's why I say kick the lot of them out, then kick the next bunch out, too, just to get used to the idea and let the new "leaders" know that they're nothing special either.

Obama's no more scary than McCain is, but he is somewhat less hostile, and he at least has been out amongst the plebes without a government safety net under him.

The Lazy Iguana said...

See that is the problem. You are listening to the so-called conservative commentators. What do you expect them to say? Really now.

There were a lot of questions that she simply did not answer, instead deflecting off to some other topic.

Most troubling is that she did not seem to know that the office of the VP is in fact part of the executive branch. That was one of the questions she did not answer by the way.

If you are going to claim Palin has "executive experience" then there is no way you can claim Obama does not.

And then lets belittle the "marxist community organizer".

Obama attended Occidental College, a small institution is a big city, ranked 37th.

Then he obtained a masters degree from Columbia University, a school with a very good reputation. A school that is the third most selective school in the Ivy League, accepting less than 9% of applicants for the class of 2012.

And then - after getting out of one of the most prestigious universities in the nation, Obama takes a low paying job working for a church based community organization. What a goof huh?

Imagine - working for peanuts to start up job training programs, college prep tutoring programs, and so on.

And then later the man went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School.

Palin obtained a 4 year degree in Journalism from a school that is not really even ranked. And that is it.

McCain went to the US Navy Academy, which is not a bad place to go. But he ranked near the bottom of his class, and it is likely that without having a father and grandfather who was an admiral in the service he would have ever set foot in that school.

So who has a capacity to learn more at a faster rate?

Oh yea, before being a lowly community organizer, Obama did work for Business International Corporation - a research firm dedicated to assist American companies operating abroad. And what did he do there? According to Wikipedia:

"He held a position as a research associate in its financial services division, where he edited Financing Foreign Operations, a global reference service, and wrote for Business International Money Report, a weekly financial newsletter."

I am sure Obama knows nothing about the economy - right?

What economic / financial research firm did McCain or Palin work for? What top ranked schools did McCain or Palin graduate with high honors from?

I am not saying they are dumb. Just because you do not get into the best schools in the world and graduate with high honors does mean you are a moron. McCain and Palin simply took another path. McCain went off to active military duty as a Navy officer. Palin got a job as a TV sports reporter, then went into local politics - and then on to more.

Experience is more than just your job history. It is also your education background - for your educational background suggest your capacity to learn new things, and not just be able to remember something either - but to be able to truly understand it.

Anyhow - the problem here is listening to the pundits. And by the way, they DID talk down Palin. Even those on the right. They lowered expectations to the point that anything Palin did would come in way above that bar. That way they could claim a "victory" for her.

I did not fall for that. I pretty much got what I expected to be honest. I did not expect a total failure from either person. I did not think Palin would flop.

I was not exactly super impressed with either, but I did get the impression that Biden had a better grasp on issues behind the questions asked.

And no, I am also not falling for the "it is the top of the ticket" noise. The pundits on the right were NOT saying this when Palin seemed to give McCain a boost in the polls. No, back then it was a "total package" line.

Only now, trying to deflect attention away from their VP pick (to the mainstream voter anyway) are they going to the "top of the ticket" line.

Not buying it.

Mr. Althouse said...

We may not agree politically, but I always respect your honesty and forthrightness (spellchecker confirms... that is a word).

Is it too late to initiate a "Saur for President" campaign?


Three Score and Ten or more said...

I'm glad you thought Biden avoided being patronizing. I wanted to slap him "upside the haid". He just drove me nuts. I agree that Palin was over-handled. The hick bit rode prett well for a few minutes.

I picked Obama as the winner after I heard his speech after the Iowa caucus. Until Palin came along I saw nothing to contradict this feeling. I think she has given the Republicans a chance.

I don't remember who said no-one should vote for a congressional incumbent, but I agree.

undergroundlogician said...


I agree that corporations, especially bankers CANNOT take priority over citizens. But, where the citizens' jobs are at stake, we need to take that into consideration.

But getting back to the debate, and addressing Lazy, I think the only proof if Palin won is how the electorate responds with votes. I would tone down the "shuckey-darns" too. But, I think she connected, and if so, it will show. The only one that can blow it for McCain/Palin is McCain. He's the key, and I'm not to hep on him yet.

This is going to be one of those hold your nose and vote things this November. I hate it.

DFTF said...

I agree with your assessment. I like Palin, A LOT. I think the media has trashed her unfairly, but the folksy dialogue does give them even more ammo.

Jungle Mom said...

I was pleasantly surprised the Gwen was a decent moderator irregardless of her biases. I think Biden was doing the best a gentleman can in that situation. I think Sarah was handled, as they all are, but did a fine job. It seemed she spoke to us where as Biden spoke about us.
I did come away thinking a Palin/Biden ticket would be preferable to and Obama/Biden or McCain/Palin!
Go figure...

daveawayfromhome said...

"Most troubling is that she did not seem to know that the office of the VP is in fact part of the executive branch. That was one of the questions she did not answer by the way. "

She wouldnt, not if she wanted to carry on in the Grand Old "tradition" newly set by Cheney, and her authoritarian tendancies would indicate that she does. The next VP may well help decide whether Cheney was a trendsetter or a criminal*. Personally, I think anyone who wants to apply only the parts of either branch that allow him to do whatever he wants without oversight is a criminal, regardless of trend, but that's just my opinion.

*Barring a lawsuit and a constitutionally responsible SCOTUS.

The Doozie said...

If Obama is a Trojan Horse, then he would be shoe-in for the next presidency. For example, all of the interest rate cuts Clinton put in effect while in office are now trickling down and being blamed on Bush, so therefore I wonder why clinton is not blamed for the upheaval in our banks?

Talk about a Trojan Horse...and he was sent in by his stupid WIFE, HILLARY. She is stupid, because if she was smart? She would have kept her big mouth shut, not slammed on Obama, and played dirty. In a race this close to play dirty? That is to go ahead and just sauce yourself. So Hillary? You are retarded.

No matter who gets elected, they are going to be blamed for all of the shit that happened before them.

Obama has very little experience with government, and he should never be elected just because he is "tan" because frankly, whoever said he was "black" is an idiot.

He is just a man, like everyone else. People who insist on pointing out "color" are the biggest idiots of them all. They are the ones who should just go home, watch Extreme Home Makeover and avoid Political TV, because Makeovers are the only things that require their "expertise" judgement of COLORS

Uncle Joe said...

I liked Joe Biden's teeth.

daveawayfromhome said...

"all of the interest rate cuts Clinton put in effect while in office are now trickling down and being blamed on Bush"

WTF? The loans going bad now are most often loans which start out low, then jump after two or three years (not eight), and so are from Bush's era, not Clinton's. Considering that housing prices have gone up at least 50% since Bush entered office, I fail to see how you can blame Clinton for the mortgage crisis. If nothing else, anyone with a mortgage from the Clinton era could simply sell their house for a very tidy profit, rather than lose it (unless they were dumb enough to get a home equity loan during the Bush years).
Even if Clinton did "lower" interest rates, Bush did not raise them, even during a period of rising inflation when conventional wisdom says that's the course to take. No, instead the Bush Administration lowered them further (though this was not passed on to the consumer).

As for blame, most of the blame for pretty much anything must be placed upon the shoulders of Congress. The president can only administer the laws (except when they employ signing statements) that Congress makes. Guess who's been dominating Congress since 1994? The Republicans. When Clinton was triangulating, guess which way he was being pushed? Not left, that's for sure. Even now, ask a Democrat whether the congress in which his party has a "majority" is actually doing what they were elected to do, or are still enabling the worst president ever. The president can only set the tone, lobby for change, and suggest action; whether that action actually occurs is up to the Congress (this is basic Government 101 stuff which the public seems to forget everytime they send their man back to Washington). Bush has been especially "good" at leading Congress by the nose.

If you want to talk about "trojan horses", let's talk about George Bush, elected to be a "compassionate" conservative, but who's administration has turned out to be exactly the opposite.
I'm sorry, but you cannot tell people that Obama is not to be trusted due to the actions of the previous president from his party, when there is such a terrible (and more recent) example from your own party.

You'll have to try a different flavor of your party's propaganda machine talking points, because this kool-aid's no good.

The Doozie said...

well in answer to you dave, I don't affiliate myself with a particular party, and I never said a word about whether or not I support bush, or ever did. I never said anything about Obama's"party". What I said was that Clit on was a retard, and his wife is a retard and there you go.

All I know is that typically in this Country, it is customary for the things put into effect during one persons terms to come rolling down the shit pile during someone elses, thus they get blamed.

If it is as you say? and it's CONGRESS that basically passes or doesn't pass the laws then why are you even arguing about this stuff? Why don't you just discuss the congress people you want to vote for and ignore the opinions that don't agree with yours about the presidency?

Have you ever attended a legislative session? If you have ? You would know that it is not presidents or congress people who control this country. No, it is LOBBYISTS. And behind every lobbyist asshat is money. We are powerless unless we have millions of dollars to pay some fat mouth to convince weak, fence riding politicians how to vote.

and by the way, I'm voting for Palin cause she's a hot mom, and she's gonna rock this country, not just when whatshisface dies, but when she's on her period. I'm thinking wars will be declared and shits gonna hit the fan one week out of every month


Uncle Joe said...

I liked Biden's hair plugs.

Bee Repartee said...

LMAO Dooz!!

Saur, if you haven't seen this youtubage on the mortgage crisis and who is to blame, you should.

Saur♥Kraut said...

I'm just sitting back and enjoying the fracas...

Carole Spray said...

As a fascinated neighbor, I am curious as to why this electoral process takes two years when you have to turn around and go through this whole process again in approximately 48 months. It must take away a huge amount of time, energy and money which might otherwise be spent on overseeing and governing. This is not a criticism....I am genuinely perplexed.. because it seems to me most other democracies operate more efficiently and within a Much shorter time frame with consequently more emphasis on issues rather than character assassination. Answer ?

Becca said...

I'm scared to post a political opinion so nobody yell at me please. Biden's biggest problem is that he is overqualified. I like Palin more than Biden but Biden is still overqualified to be vice president. Biden should be debating McCain and Obama should be debating Palin. That would be a better match experience wise.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Becca, Don't be afraid - my friends come in all sorts of flavors, and your opinion is just as important (and I know they'd agree). You actually have an excellent point. Truthfully, I would've liked to see Hillary Clinton vs. ah...say... Mitt Romney or Tom Tancreado. But yes, Biden is superior to Obama.

Carole, a very good question, indeed. You see, it wasn't really meant to be this way initially. In fact, many people don't know that George Washington was given the choice to be in office for life or merely over a series of terms (I'm glad he didn't take the offer).

We used to allow Presidents to serve indefinately as long as they were elected every 4 years. However, after FDR was elected repeatedly, Congress got panicky and became afraid that they might have a future dictatorship if they didn't do something. So, they created the 22nd Amendment which limits a President to serving only twice in a row.

Of course that means that Bill Clinton COULD run again, as time has elapsed since his last Presidency. But it has a way of stifling an ongoing rule.

The same should apply to everyone in government.

But at one time, the political machine didn't take so long to wind up.

It's kind of like Christmas. At one time, Christmas stuff was sold in December. Then it was sold right after Thanksgiving in November. Then it was sold right after Halloween at the end of October. Then it was sold alongside Halloween merchandise.

It's the same way with politics. It gears up earlier each time.

A lot of the reason is that they want plenty of time to get the message out. But, it may also damage them, as it gives everyone time to learn a little more than the candidate might be comfortable with.

It's a two-edged sword.

daveawayfromhome said...

@ Doozie: Well, that'll teach me to make assumptions. On the other hand, when you call Clinton a "retard", while ignoring the role that our current president (who helps make the legacies Carter, Ford and Nixon look better) had in this economic meltdown, I'm not sure you can expect much else. No, Clinton wasnt a great president, but he was far better than Bush.

As for the Perpetual Campaign, they'll stop doing it once we stop electing those who do it. Or maybe if we made campaigns totally financed by the government, which probably wouldnt work, but would at least restrict when the money could be spent (and nothing gets done without money).