Friday, October 3, 2008

Came the Dawn: The Veep Debate

It appeared that Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden had much more fun during their debate than did the Presidential candidates last week. Both of them smiled more genuine smiles, and both treated each other with more genuine deference. The nuances of each were fun to catch: I swear Sarah Palin said “Obama and Obiden” at one point and if you review the tape I think you’ll find it in the last half hour. And I heard Biden describing a program he disliked almost call it “ri” (for right wing?) and switched his word quickly to “re” followed by “publican.” Senator Biden was primed and ready with his decades and decades and decades and decades of service and his piles of facts and Palin was so excited to be on stage and so rarin’ to go she left all her gs behind in Alaska and almost levitated above her podium.

And she didn’t make a fool of herself, which was a relief to many of us voters and a real disappointment to the legions of commentators hauled out on television to analyze her performance. She stuck to her talking points, for which she was well prepped, and she shifted the topics to those with which she was comfortable. When she wasn’t familiar with a subject, she changed it. Senator Biden ought to know that technique: politicians on Capitol Hill have been using in for years during live interviews. “I’m glad you asked me that,” they intone, and then they answer an entirely different question altogether.

She said “also” several thousand times and she ought to cut that out (just as Senator McCain needs to eliminate his insincere-sounding “my friend” which he too has over-used). Like President George W. Bush, Palin can’t say “nu-cle-ar” and she gave General David McKiernan, our commander in Afghanistan, the name of Civil War General McClellan. But these were not career-ending fumbles.

We’ve had lots of small town guys serve as our Presidents over the years (Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton come to mind) and no one has ever subjected them to the scrutiny which Sarah Palin—who is not even running for President, by the way—has faced in the last five weeks. Now we can get on to evaluating the two men at the top of the party tickets and gosh darn it: that’s where our real attention should be. Let’s give them a shout out, shall we?

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