Brief V.P. Debate Thoughts
--First off, Gwen Ifill should not have moderated the debate. Even though in the end she came off as a professional, just like sports referees the moderator should never be a focal point of a contest.
--Palin likely came off far better than everyone expected. She was confident and showed much more mastery of the facts than in her previous interviews. SNL doesn't have a whole lot of material to go on should they parody the debate.
--I hadn't seen much of Joe Biden, and came away thoroughly impressed. In fact I think he came off better in this debate than Obama did in the presidential debate (which I believe McCain won).
--While Palin exceeded expectations, those expecations were fairly low. And all things being equal, I felt Biden won the debate handily. This is not to say Palin lost the debate--there were no major gaffes as far as I could tell--but I felt Biden was simply superb. He came off as knowledgable, experienced without being out of touch, and human (anyone who didn't get a brief lump in their throat when he talked about his tragic accident simply doesn't have a soul). His reply to Palin's "being a mom" statement where he said "the notion that somehow, because I'm a man, I don't know what it's like to raise two kids alone...I understand" was powerful stuff and showed that you don't need to be a hockey mom to know what it's like to raise a family in tough times.
--Things I thought Biden did well: He knew his stuff, and hammered the specifics about McCain's plan, including Health Care which was fairly damning. He wasn't condescending to Palin, and in fact seemed genuinely gracious before and after. He attacked McCain's policies, was strong in his disapproval for the last eight years (his comments about Cheney were eye-opening) and was rarely rebuffed by Palin. He did not make any stupid comments, nor did he go after Palin specifically, a smart move since people do vote for the top of the ticket first.
--Things I felt Biden did poorly: At times it felt like he was more excited about a Biden vice-presidency than an Obama presidency. Got a little too wordy at times, and mumbled a bit which made a few comments hard to distinguish. Sometimes had no response but to smile or look at his dais when Palin critiqued him or Obama, and was hit hard when Palin pointed out where he and Obama differed.
--Things I felt Palin did well: She showed off her folksy charm, but with much more command of the material. She got in a few good digs at the Obama/Biden ticket, and really drew blood when talking about Biden's earlier criticisms of Obama and his refusal to accept a VP nod (which Biden did not respond to). Though her desire for "straight talk" was ironic considering her recent interviews, her critique about Biden being against the war before he was for it was a home run.
--Things I felt Palin did poorly: The folksy stuff got way too cutesy at times, and I couldn't believe she actually winked at the t.v. Winking is not folksy, it's flirtatious. And had a male candidate done that he would have been rightly eviscerated. She seemed to know her stuff, but as opposed to Biden she came off as more well-coached than innately knowledgable. And her "I may not answer the questions that you or the moderator want to hear" is an unnacceptable response. The moderator is a stand-in for the American people, asking the questions we want answered. Evading those questions does not make her come across as a Maverick from outside the Beltway, but made it seem like she was simply avoiding the issues she was less comfortable discussing.