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Sarah vs. Smirky: Vice Presidential Debate Thread
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Are you ready? I’m praying and pulling for Sarah Palin. I know you are, too. Let’s go.

8:01pm Eastern. Will Gwen Ifill disclose or won’t she?


The candidates walk out. Sarah looks lovely and confident.

She asks Biden, “Nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe?”

First question: The bailout.

Biden launches into a Bush attack. He sounds tired recyling his tired, corporate-bashing talking points.

Palin’s turn. “Has this been a good time or bad time for the economy. Ask parents at their kids’ soccer. Fear about borrowing money, paying for inventory. Our economy is hurting. Government hasn’t provided proper oversight. Segues to McCain sounding the alarm on Fannie/Freddie reform.”

Trumped Biden on connecting with ordinary Americans. Excellent answer, much better job than Biden at pushing McCain as a leader on “reform.” (Ok, well except for the fact that McCain voted for the bailout behemoth.)

Biden responds by quoting McCain on touting the fundamentals of the economy.

Palin says McCain was talking about the American workforce being sound. American workers. That’s what he meant. What I’ve done as governor and mayor is putting partisan politics aside to get the job done. Obama’s a partisan. Get done to getting business done. Tired of politics as usual. I respect your many years in the Senate, but people are craving something different. Something new.

She is on.

Take that, doubters.

Q: Who’s responsible for the subprime crisis?

Palin agrees there were predatory lenders, greed, and corruption. Echoing McCain. “We need to band together and say never again.”

9:10pm Eastern. Excellent – she’s talking about personal responsibility. Don’t get in debt. We can learn good lessons.

Palin is fresh, cogent, on message.

Biden looks tired. Did I mention that?

He’s laughably asserting that Obama was warning about the subprime crisis two years ago. Now, trying to come across as the Everyman’s crusader.

Palin zeroes in on Obama’s tax increase votes – 94 times. 94 times. That’s not what we need to create jobs. Government’s going to have to be more efficient – and do more less if that’s what’s needed.

Biden protests the tax increase charge and pushes McCain as reckless deregulator.

Palin is not intimidated. “I may not answer the question the way the moderator or you want, but I’m going to answer and talk straight to the American people.” Reiterates the tax increase charge, then cites her experience as mayor and governor.

Ifill gets testy. Cuts Palin off. Turns to health care. Smirky smirks. Goes back to taxes. This is good for Palin.

Palin takes issue with redistribution of wealth. “You said paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle-class, where I’m from, that’s not patriotic. You’re the problem.”

She is rolling him.

“Age of Obama” asks if she’s interested in defending McCain’s health care plan.

I am, says Palin with a glowing smile. Cites $5,000 tax credit for health care, budget-neutral. Purchasing across state line. Affordability and accessibility.

Biden: “I don’t know where to start.” Tries to out-blue-collar Palin. Wah. “We don’t call that redistribution. We call that fairness.”

Boy, he looks and sound tired. Don’t you think?

Biden rails another few minutes and calls McCain’s plan the “ultimate bridge to nowhere.” Laughter from audience.

Ifill gives the next question to…Joe Biden. A lot of smoke blown and then he stumble “character, char-, characterize.”

Man, he’s tired.

Palin reminds Biden that Obama voted for oil industry tax breaks in energy legislation a few years ago. “I had to fight them…What I had to do was break up a monopoly. The people have to come first. Obama voted for that plan. I, as a governor, had to undo that.”

Ifill: So there’s nothing you’ve promised as a candidate that you would take back to pass the bailout plan. No, there’s not. How long have I been at this? Five weeks. So, there’s not a lot that I’ve promised. Nothing I’d go back on. And nothing that McCain has promised that he wouldn’t go back on, either.

Biden acknowledges that Palin opposed windfall profits tax. He acknowledges that she fought the oil companies as governor. “I give her credit for it.”

Round to Palin, again.

9:30pm Eastern. Ifill asks about climate change.

As the nation’s only arctic state, we feel the impacts. I’m not willing to attribute everything to man’s activities, but there are changes going on. I don’t want to argue about causes. I want to get to positively changing the impacts of climate. (Yikes.) First garble. “We’ve got to become energy independent.” I understand why she’d be a little tied up here — her position has been opposite on McCain’s.

Biden is trying to draw a contrast between Obama and McCain on this. McCain is right next to or to the left of Obama. Always has been. Give me a break. Biden complains about “Drill drill drill.”

Palin corrects him: The chant is “Drill, baby, drill!” And we hear it all across the country. Obama and Biden have said no to any alternatives. They’ve likened drilling to raping. Palin points out that Biden opposed clean coal. Biden says he was taken out of context.

Ifill rescues Biden and switches to same-sex benefits coverage, “like they have in Alaska.”

Biden goes on and on. Yes. Would you support expanding that to the rest of the country?

Not if it leads to redefining marriage. Says she wants to be straight up that she opposes same-sex marriage. Clear: “I am tolerant.”

Biden echoes. He is against it.

“Age of Obama” says: Wonderful. You agree.

Moves on to foreign policy. You both have sons in Iraq. Surge/Iraq question:

Palin: Touts McCain on the surge. We have got to win in Iraq. Senator Biden, I respected you when you called Barack Obama out on that. You said it was political and it would cost lives.

It would be a travesty if we quit now in Iraq.

Good answer, great delivery, great dig at Biden.

He winced.


Biden: “We will end this war.”

Palin: “Your plan is a white flag of surrender.”

She should have said: You will end this war? Well, we will WIN this war.

She adds another dig. Reminds Biden that he said he would be honored to run on a ticket with McCain. And reminds him that he said that Obama was not ready to be commander in chief.

Biden smirks.


Ifill moves on to Pakistan and Iran. Which is a greater nuclear threat?

Biden brags that he’s been working on this for a long time.

We know, we know.

Biden attacks McCain on Pakistan.

Palin: Both are extremely dangerous, of course. Iraq is a central front in war on al Qaeda. Gen. Petraeus tells us, don’t believe it.

Palin goes after Ajad on his annihilation of Israel rhetoric. Ajad, Castro brothers, Kim Jong Il – Obama says he’d meet without preconditions.

This is beyond naivete and poor judgement. It’s downright dangerous.

Good. Good. Good.

Ifill cites Kissinger as pro-engagement. Palin says no, I had a great meeting with him. He doesn’t support Obama’s position.


These people hate America. Hate what we stand for. Hate our tolerance and respect for women’s right. Can’t sit down with them on the presidential level. Diplomacy is necessary. It’s hard work by serious people with sanctions backing you up before summits take place.


Biden blusters. Mentions McCain/Spain remarks. He wouldn’t even meet with Spain!

Ifill moves on to Israel – one state or two state solution.

Palin: Two state. Israel is our greatest ally. They succeeded with Jordan, Egypt. In a McCainPalin administration, that commitment is there to stand by Israel.

She is on.

Biden: No one’s a bigger supporter of Israel than me! Resorts to his bash-Bush retreat.

Palin: Enough is enough with your ticket looking back and pointing blame. For a ticket touting change, you have too much looking backward. We’re going to forge ahead and make sure our country comes first. Change is coming!

Great smile.

9:57pm Eastern. Palin brings up Afghanistan. The same surge principles in Iraq need to be applied to Afghanistan.

Palin rips Obama for saying troops killed civilians and tore down villages.


Sarah rocks.

9:59pm Eastern. Biden is ranting about McCain on arms control regime.

Palin corrects Biden on applying surge principles/counterinsurgency principles to Afghanistan. Clearing, holding, rebuilding the civil society. It can work. They’ve not said anything different but that.

Biden is at a loss for words. He can’t defend taking the general out of context.


10:03pm Eastern. Ifill asks about Biden’s record of intervention. He blusters about Darfur and Bosnia.

Palin stays on message: “It’s obvious I’m a Washington outsider. You were for the war and now you were against it. You supported McCain’s strategies. You were for it before you were against it.”


On Darfur, I’m with you. Cites what she did as governor in supporting humanitarian efforts.

Excellent. Keeps hammering her executive experience and record.


Ifill asks if there are lines that should be drawn. Biden: Sure. He then denies that he ever supported

McCain’s strategy.

10:06pm Eastern. I beg to differ. We’ll know the truth. McCain’s been there. He’ll know how to win a war.

Ifill asks about differences between vp and prez. What would we different?

By the way: A reader e-mails that he’s keeping count of the times Biden gets to rebut versus Palin and has it at a 6:1 ratio.


Biden concludes he’s agree on everything.

Palin says we’re a ticket of Mavericks and what do you expect? Of course, we’ll disagree. I’ll keep pushing him on ANWR.


One thing I’ll continue: Reforming Washington. Bringing Wasilla Main Street. Government, get out of my way.

Biden: Can I respond?

Ifill: Please.

(Thinking: “Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!”)

10:11pm Eastern. Palin turning on the charm. “Say it ain’t, Joe!” You did it again. Looking backwards again! Palin praises Biden’s wife for her career in teaching, mentions teachers in her family, shout outs for her brother, dad, and third-graders at a local school in her hometown for watching the debate. They get extra credit.

Ifill brings up Palin’s joke on vice presidency.

Palin: It was lame joke. So was yours (to Biden). But nobody got it. Either of ours. (Laughter.)

Charming, relaxed, self-confident.

Did I say: Sarah rocks!

Oh, and did I note: Biden looks tired despite his tan and what looks like Botox work on his unnaturally smooth forehead. It’s…weird. Kerry-esque.

Palin is talking and Biden keeps smirking.

Biden calls Cheney “the most dangerous vice president in American history.”

Ifill: The conventional wisdom is that Palin’s Achilles’ heel is lack of experience and that Biden’s is lack of discipline. What are your real Achilles’ heels?

Palin: My experience, my connection to the heartland of America, cites her biography. She didn’t hear the rest of the question.

Biden: My Achilles’ heel – “my excessive passion.”


Biden pours on his “I’m a real guy, too.” He seems pissed, pardon my language, though she did nothing to attack him personally.

He’s offended that someone’s claimed the Real Person mantle that he thinks he alone possesses.

Palin is on message with McCain as maverick and reformer.

Biden is waking up. He’s really angry now. I’d say he’s scowling, except his mouth can’t really move. Biden trying to paint McCain as Eeeeeevil.

Final question: Can you think of a single issue that you were faced to change because of changed circumstances?

Biden has a ready answer. He’s talking about a judicial pick, cites his opposition to Robert Bork…cites his judiciary committee chairmanship.

Palin: There are times as mayor and governor that I wanted to zero-base budget or cut taxes more, but on major principles, no, nothing I’ve ever had to compromise on.

Ifill has another question after her final question: How will you change the tone in Washington?

Biden blathers about working together, a Jesse Helms anecdote, never questioning others’ motives. Blah blah. “That’s the fundamental change Barack Obama and I will bring. Not questioning others’ motives.”

Bull crap!

Joe Biden, meet Stanley Kurtz.

Palin stays on message: Support a ticket that creates jobs, reins in government spending, energy independence.


Palin’s up. She likes these forums. No filtering by the mainstream media (ZING!). John McCain and I will fight for America. I know what the hurts are, I know the challenges, I know the blessings. I’ve always been proud to be an American. (Unlike, ahem, Mrs. “America is Downright Mean.”) There is only one man in this race who has really fought for you. And that man is John McCain.”


Biden’s up. Can he not bash Bush in the next 90 seconds.

He’s tiiiiiiired. Gravel-voiced. Deflated.

But his forehead is really smooth.

Biden ends with a “God bless America” and a “God bless the troops” — the kind of thing the Christian-bashers would flog Sarah over.

Bottom line:

Sarah rocks. Biden’s tired.


My quick post-debate analysis is here: Sarah rocks!

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Sarah Palin