Wait, let’s see that VP debate transcript. Did Sarah Palin really say the Taliban are working with us in Iraq? No it was Maliki and Talabani, ok, no gaffe. But with the many slips in her speaking, you never knew if she knew what she was talking about, as was clear in the Couric interview. As Kathleen Parker puts it
“Before we relax into giddiness or cynicism, however, it’s important to consider that a debate differs from an interview in significant ways. A debate is a point-counterpoint exercise that allows little opportunity for probing or follow-up. An interview requires that a candidate explain an idea in depth and offer specifics.”
Amid the betcha’s and eye wink connectives, Palin largely followed Biden’s topical lead, even though she had many opportunities to coherently advance the subject or even once seize the first response to the moderator. When confronted or perhaps not understanding difficult questions, she took the conversation into oddly irrelevant areas to what the audience was focusing on and waiting for her counter punch. For example when Gwen asked about policy on mortgage and bankruptcy, Joe gave a perfectly fine answer. Sarah’s turn. “I want to talk about, again, my record on energy policy”. For the audience, an unsatisfying comeback and repeating herself again already.
Biden was brilliant in reciting the Bush/McCain abject failures in Middle East Policy whose result created greater enemy forces around Israel. Sarah was in a foreign land. Rather than attempt to reinterpret the history from a Republican point of view, it was – no Bush is right, I don’t believe you, you are a finger pointer. Country first. A soberly ignorant view of history when she could be telling voters what she plans as executive adviser to do about unsticking the situation.
But on the day of the Bailout Bill being signed correcting market abuses, Palin advanced that government regulations get in the way of the private sector. Only a poor contestant in a beauty contest would sing an old Regan tune now. She crooned repeatedly.
The Republicans had far more qualified political talent. The remorse in the party grows. But the Republican Achilles heal is they can not police their problems. They have no stomach for internal discipline when they can spin an alternate reality. In the long run, however, the long avoidance of internal errors collapses all of a sudden, like the financial towers of New York City.
I don’t think she understood the question, but Palin stated she agreed with Cheney that the VP should have new powers like legislative branch powers not granted in the constitution. Biden rightly said he was the most dangerous vice president in American history. At 3am, I want a person who understands what was said on the red phone. Let us just say I heard the voice of Biden (not Joe), and Sarah (not Palin). Put by Bob Herbert, “Ms. Palin’s words don’t mean anything. She’s all punctuation.”
By the end of the debate, the audience could not imagine McCain and Sarah having what Biden said, “Barack Obama indicated to me he wanted me with him to help him govern. So every major decision he’ll be making, I’ll be sitting in the room to give my best advice. He’s president, not me, I’ll give my best advice.” Can you imagine McCain waiting for Sarah’s judgement on a political situation? He would be waiting for her to return from the Library of Congress to look up the subject. She’s a winker and that’s a whole other story there.
The biggest charge against her performance is her divisiveness to the country. As K. Parker writes her interpretation of Sarah, “I am one of you, she told them. And these people — Democrats and the media — are neither of us, nor for us.” That’s the damning point. She cannot unify the nation in the Santana-like Obama way.
In the end, Biden was presidential and shed a tear, Sarah was simply hopeful and winked.