Thursday, October 2, 2008
Debate Wrap up: It's a Tie, but . . . .
So who won? If you followed my stream of consciousness real time blogs (see below) to the end you'll see that I'm calling it a tie. I call it that because I think both sides did well enough, or at least did themselves no harm. Palin exceeded expectations (didn't I tell you that the"I'm an idiot" Katie Couric interviews were just a ploy?) which wasn't too hard given how low those expectations were. But Biden did well, too. No gaffes. No condescension. If anything Palin was the condescending one. It was a tie.
But now let's get honest here. Let's admit that what we were really looking at here, at least Palin-wise, was a high school debate student who followed her debate coach's instructions to a "t." And she had some of the best debate coaches in the country working with her.
And let's not forget that she was a sports announcer which means that she knows how to talk to the camera. I've been in front of a camera myself and this may be one of the most difficult things to get used to - speaking to a camera when someone near the camera is asking the questions. The normal humanresponse to do is to speak to the questioner, as Biden did most of the time. But Palin, given her TV experience knew that when the camera is on you speak to it because that's where the audience is. So here she came across better than him.
I'm watching CNN right now and what they see coming in from around the country is affirming what I'm saying here. People felt that Palin did better than expected, but not good enough to turn the tables for them mainly because they also felt Biden did a good job. In fact, when stacked up against each other more felt Biden won. And I would agree even though I still declare it a tie because both did well enough. Well enough to convince their supporters. Not well enough to convince those who aren't already on board. Independents, I believe, will remain confused.
In terms of memorable moments, Biden's tears made the most impact on me. Mainly because they were genuine. Thinking about the tragedy in his life, the death of his wife and daughter, what it meant for him to raise his sons on his own, that was real. Palin, on the other hand, was using this "I'm a working class mom" bit gratuitously. And, I must add, disingenously, as a recent report (see below) notes that she's a millionaire. Since when did millionaires start feeling our pain??
As for the best line of the night, or in this case, lines, it happened when Palin repeated her "maverick" mantra one too many times. Biden's response was to sound off a whole list of reasons why the maverick label does not fit John McCain. And he was dead on. It was much more effective than Palin's unrelenting attacks on Obama, partly because she kept saying things that clearly weren't true, like raising taxes on the middle class, partly because these were memorized lines; Republican talking points. Been there. Done that.
But here's the most important point. It isn't going to matter. What we just saw tonight isn't going to matter to the final outcome of this election. Not one whit. Not with two more presidential debates on the docket. That's what's going to stick in peoples' minds. Because in the end this is a race between Obama and McCain. And unless McCain has a personality change between now and November he's going to lose.
Did I mention that what I heard tonight hasn't changed my opinion of Sarah Palin one whit? She still reminds me of that self-absorbed, snarky prom queen student council president that made high school such a hell. No debate can change that. That's who she is.