Well, it was a win for Gov. Sarah Palin. Yes, I know what you're thinking. Did I hit my head? No, but I'm not being entirely serious with that statement either. Conservatives have said Palin hit it out of the park, but I think that's a bit of an overstatement. Actually, more than a bit. What amounts to a win for Palin is that she didn't sound like an incoherent idiot, quite like she did with Katie Couric or Charlie Gibson. She managed to string sentences together and make some sense, but it was clear she was either reading from her notes or reciting what had probably been drilled into her head the past few days by her debate coaches. Many of her responses sounded exactly the same as statements we've heard from her and McCain, whether on the campaign trail or during their convention speeches. Nothing new. I don't think you can count a debate a win just because your candidate didn't sound stupid. What matters is whether that person comes off as knowledgeable and qualified for the job. Polls show that 98% of undecided voters thought Sen. Joe Biden was more knowledgeable, and 87% of voters polled nationally think Biden is more qualified for the job. Palin had a high percentage of voters who thought she exceeded expectations, but after the constant airing of her recent disastrous interview with Couric, Palin had nowhere to go but up.
The polls also show that Biden won the debate. Depending on which one you look at, 46% of undecided voters thought so, and nationally, 51% of voters agreed. I think in the coming days, as more in-depth polls are conducted, we'll see those numbers grow.
Looking at Factcheck.org's analysis of the debate, it's clear that while both candidates made statements that weren't 100% accurate, Palin made more statements that were just outright false. What's more, she either didn't know Gen. McKiernan's name, or just got it wrong, but it was a bit embarrassing since she was so adamant that she was right about what the general said regarding the surge in Afghanistan. More embarrassing is that Palin was wrong about what McKiernan said. From Factcheck.org:
To start, Palin got newly appointed Gen. David D. McKiernan's name wrong when she called him McClellan. And, more important, Gen. McKiernan clearly did say that surge principles would not work in Afghanistan. As the Washington Post reported:
Washington Post: "The word I don't use for Afghanistan is 'surge,' " McKiernan stressed, saying that what is required is a "sustained commitment" to a counterinsurgency effort that could last many years and would ultimately require a political, not military, solution.
Like McCain, Palin also needs to go back and have a chat with her friend, Henry Kissinger, who said he would meet with Iran without preconditions. She mentioned the "Talibani" when I think she meant Taliban, but it was strange. I also thought Palin's comment that "'Enough is enough with your ticket,' on constantly looking backwards, and pointing fingers, and doing the blame game" was hilarious. She kept saying that Obama and Biden are stuck in the past, looking backwards. Does she not realize that her running mate IS the past, siding with President Bush 90% of the time? And while I know Palin is not the smartest tool in the shed, you can't talk about change without talking about what you're changing FROM. I also find it funny that Palin thinks Obama and Biden are stuck in the past when during the RNC, many Republican politicians were talking about change as well. Suddenly, they were the party of change! "Change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington," according to Gov. Mitt Romney. Of course, no one told him that Republicans had been in charge the past eight years, and in charge of Congress for six of the past eight years. Please, not talking about the past? How many times have we heard McCain and Palin bring up Ronald Reagan's name? How many times have we heard McCain's P.O.W. story? Pot meet kettle.
Other things annoyed me about Palin. The winking. The constant use of the word "also." Saying she might not answer the questions the way the moderator liked, but she was going to talk to the American people. Then why have a debate at all? Palin admitted that she had only been at this five weeks, which I'm not sure was something to mention. It's not really funny or cute. She was folksy with her "you betcha" and "darn right," but again, I didn't really find those things funny or cute or even endearing. Maybe she thinks speaking like that brings her down to Joe Six-pack's level, but it just makes her look silly. I won't even go into all this talk about how she and Todd are middle class.
I don't think Palin did horribly in the debate, but as far as who "won," it was Biden all the way.