From the, “Glad I’m not the only one who noticed” department, we have this from Christopher Beam at Slate this morning:
… Palin demonstrated a knack for answering the question she wanted to answer—not the one that was asked. At one point, Ifill asked Palin to respond to a comment by Sen. Biden on health care. “I would like to respond about the tax increases,” Palin pivoted and proceeded to accuse Obama of raising taxes 94 times. A minute later, Ifill prompted Palin to respond about McCain’s record of deregulation. Again, Palin resisted: “I’m still on the tax thing because I want to correct you on that again.” Biden looked exasperated, prompting Palin to say, “I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.” In other words, screw your questions, I’ve memorized a message and gosh darn it, I’m going to get it across.
And from Don Hazen at Alternet:
So Palin was on the verge of being a winner in my book, until one crucial moment near the end of debate. That was when Joe Biden got vulnerable. He talked about the loss of his wife and children in an accident, and he almost broke down. It felt very real and brought tears to my eyes. And in what probably was Palin’s only major mistake, she ignored Biden’s tragedy. She started talking about McCain the maverick for the umpteenth time, suggesting that she had a tin ear when it comes to other people’s pain, thus undermining her overall message. She was on a roll until then. But if she can’t relate to Joe Biden’s pain, how can we believe her when she says she relates to the rest of America’s?
From Leonce Gaiter at Huffington Post:
She rails against Iraq withdrawal timelines and says that American commanders will judge when the Iraqis are ready to govern and defend themselves, ignoring the Iraqis (oh, them) until she remembers to blurt Maliki’s name at the last moment–still ignoring the fact that he himself has called for an American withdrawal timeline. She said that use of nuclear (excuse me, “nucular”) weapons would be the “be all and end all of too many people on the planet.” Personally, I think there’d be a lot more “ending” than “being.”
And, finally, from Katharine Q. Seelye at The New York Times:
One potential cause for alarm, especially if you are a member of the United States Senate: Ms. Palin, as vice president, already seems to be contemplating an expansion of executive power over the upper chamber: “I’m thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president’s policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are.”
That’s an enormouse cause for alarm, no matter who you are. Palin as clone-of-Cheney should frighten anyone.
Pat Buchanan has just said that Sarah Palin was the most “interesting and attractive” of all four debaters we’ve seen so far. “Attractive,” Pat? That’s rich.
Pat says she was “riveting.” I found her deeply annoying with her insistence on not answering the questions and, instead, regurgitating the information that’s been fed into her over the last week or so at debate camp.
The scariest thing of the entire debate? Her adherence to Dick Cheney’s belief that the Constitution is vague on the role of the VP. This, after telling Katie Couric that the worst thing about Cheney’s time as VP was his “duck hunting” accident (it was quail). And she wasn’t really upset that he shot someone. She was upset that he got slammed for it. Let’s be very, very clear here, ladies and gents: Dick Cheney is the scariest and most dangerous VP we have ever seen and she wants to be just like him.
Yes, Palin was poised. No, Joe didn’t pick up on some of the things I thought he could slam her on. But the debate seemed to me like a fourth grader on stage with a PhD candidate. She was cutesy; he was intelligent and reasoned. There cannot be an argument here. She did not fall apart, but she did not at all prove that she could handle the Vice Presidency of the United States.
I cannot live blog the VP debate. I’m so pissed about Sarah Palin that I cannot do it. So many people don’t understand. She is not just the VP candidate … the wholly unqualified VP candidate … for the Republican party this year. She is the future of the Republican party. That’s not funny. That’s terrifying and it’s obscene that McCain has put her in that position. Were she and McCain to win the White House, she would be the obvious heir to the throne for the Republican party and that should scare the shit out of every one of you.
So, no, I won’t live blog this because I’ll just be too pissed to do it. Y’all enjoy. Back later.
James Moore, author of Bush’s Brain, on Olbermann tonight, speaking of the VP debate, said that Biden should not worry about pussy footing around Palin, as some have suggested, but should, instead:
… beat her about her diminutive brain.
While the candidates for President (that would be McCain and Obama, in case you’ve been living under a boulder) easily agreed to a freewheeling format of question, answer, and open exchange for their three scheduled debates, the two camps had to go through some version of the Versailles Treaty (ok, maybe not *that* controversial) to get rules for the VP debates done. From the NY Times yesterday:
At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.
McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.
Ha. Ha ha ha ha. Ya think? The article continues:
Commission members wanted a relaxed format that included time for unpredictable questioning and challenges between the two vice-presidential candidates. On Wednesday, the commission unanimously rejected a proposal sought by advisers to Ms. Palin and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential nominee, to have the moderator ask questions and the candidates answer, with no time for unfettered exchanges. Advisers to Mr. Biden say they were comfortable with either format.
Of course Biden was comfortable with either format.
All of this comes just as Palin is getting set up to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe next week in New York while the two men are at the UN. This will be, I’m not kidding you, her first meeting with foreign heads of state. McCain will be showing her around New York like a prom date. Even the Wall Street Journal got in on the sarcasm, noting that Palin will also meet Henry Kissinger:
Gov. Palin will also meet the ever-social Nixon-appointed National Security Advisor/Secretary of State Mr. Kissinger, who surely has much wisdom to impart about the big country one can see from Alaska.
So, to review, McCain will take his little pit bull to the prom and then put her back in her cage, lest she make a fool of herself, for the debates.
Are you drowning in Sarah Palin coverage? According to the Lycos report this morning, Internet users can’t get enough of her. For the week ending 8/30, searches for “Sarah Palin” increased by 700%, eclipsing both the Democratic National Convention, up 235%, and Hurricane Gustav, up 415%, combined. She even moved more than American Idol, up 560%. Now that’s saying something, folks.
Yesterday morning, EMILY’s List released the results of a Garin-Hart-Yang Poll they commissioned on what women voters and Hillary Clinton supporters think about Palin. The poll surveyed 800 likely Republican, Democratic, and Independent voters and asked them what they feel about the McCain / Palin ticket as opposed to the Obama / Biden ticket. It should be noted that the poll was conducted last Sunday and Monday, so some of the voters were questioned before the news broke about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy and some were questioned afterward.
The overall takeaway of the poll seemed to be that McCain’s choice of Palin was a choice made out of political expediency, a choice that would alienate Clinton voters, and a choice that showed a serious misjudgment of women voters. Only 20% of the respondents believed that McCain chose Palin because she has the experience and qualifications to be Vice President, as compared to 59% who believed it was a politically expedient choice. Further, the choice seems to have neutralized McCain’s prior advantage on the experience question, where McCain showed a 35 point lead over Obama in the beginning of August. In this poll, however, the Obama / Biden ticket took the lead on the experience, background, and knowledge question by a 52 – 37 margin.
Voters in the center, “soft” McCain voters, and undecideds seemed to have the greatest issues with Palin, especially on the issues of choice, stem cell research, funding for optional pre-K, and funding for drop-out prevention programs. 41% of those polled did find her narrative appealing, but 38% did not (very little or not at all), whereas 64% found Biden’s narrative appealing and only 17% did not (very little or not at all).
Most striking, perhaps, is that respondents indicated, by a margin of 53 – 35, that the Obama / Biden ticket better understands the issues and concerns important to women voters and that this is particularly true of former Hillary Clinton voters. If McCain thought that the Palin ticket would attract Clinton voters, he appears to have been seriously mistaken. This poll shows that Obama has 54% of the Clinton voters polled and the pollsters found that the more these women voters learn about Palin, the less likely they are to support her and the more solidified they become around the Obama / Biden ticket.
With the speech she gave last night at the Republican National Convention, however, her popularity is sure to increase. For my part, I thought she did a great job. She was poised and engaging. On the other hand, she was also sarcastic and condescending. On a DNC response conference call this morning, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz continuously emphasized the lack of substance in Palin’s speech. Yes, she did an excellent job in bashing the Democrats, a job historically assigned to the VP candidate. I suppose it is refreshing that after her interview with Kudlow & Co wondering what a VP does, she grabbed that particular role with relish. It would have been more refreshing, however, if we had heard some policy out of the speech last night. As Sebelius and Wasserman Schultz noted, the American people, particularly those not in the Hall last night, would have certainly liked to hear what the McCain / Palin administration would do to address healthcare, education, job outsourcing, etc. I’m with Gov. Sebelius: I hope to hear more policy and less attack out of McCain tonight, but I’m not optimistic.
Gov. Palin (have you noticed how many pundits refer to her as Sen. Palin?) has a steep learning curve and the American people have a lot to learn about her, though she made a nice, splashy introduction last night. She took the gloves off, which can only be a good thing for Joe Biden heading into the VP debate (10/2). I personally think that Biden will decimate her in the debate, if the moderator (Gwen Ifill) plays fair. Between now and then, though, there will be many more polls and much more reaction and, perhaps, even a Palin press conference (gasp). I’ll keep you posted.