Biden-Palin debate

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| They say she's a "quick study," and you have to give credit where credit is due — Sarah Palin clearly memorized a prodigious number of 90-second speeches while sequestered at one of McCain's many houses in Arizona. But she was like a CD player set on Random. It didn't matter what the question was, Sarah just played one of her pre-recorded messages, almost without regard to subject matter. In fact, she was quite brazen about it, saying early in the evening, "And 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…"

Trying to follow her train of thought was a bit like trying to follow chicken tracks in the barnyard.

Those who watched hoping to see a repeat of the Palin interviewed by Katie Couric were sorely disappointed. Palin was such a perky motormouth she made Rachel Ray seem laconic by comparison. And, to what must have been a great relief in the McCain camp, most of her sentences had a subject, verb, and object, although not necessarily logically related. Take the following sentence for example:

I'm not one to attribute every man -- activity of man to the changes in the climate.

She's trying to say that she doesn't attribute every climate change to activities of man, that is, the climate changes are caused by man, but it comes out ass-backward (as my mama used to say). And who could disagree? I don't think there's anybody who thinks that every activity of man is caused by changes in climate. This was not a spontaneous slip of the tongue; Sarah has said the same thing several times recently. Her words and any meaning often have a very shaky relationship.

Those who watched hoping to see Biden commit another egregious gaffe were also sorely disappointed. There were some such, as when he declared "he [Cheney] doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch." Psst, Joe — "Hey, can I call you Joe?" — Article I is about the Legislative branch; the Executive branch is covered in Article II. That, however, is a minor nit compared to the rock-solid mega-truth that preceded it: "Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history."

Will the debate change anything? Not likely. Sarah may have reassured the true believers and given relief to McCain, but independent voters and undecided voters were not going to be convinced. People have exceptionally high interest in this election and are paying close attention. Last night will not revive the McCain campaign.

McCain chose Palin in a play for women voters, but a recent Time poll contains bad news for McCain:

McCain is losing female voters faster than Sarah Palin attracted them after the Republican National Convention. Obama leads McCain by 17 points with women, 55%-38%. Before the conventions, women preferred Obama by a margin of 10 points, 49%-39%. After McCain picked Palin as his running mate, the gap narrowed to a virtual tie, with Obama holding a 1-point margin, 48%-47%.

Time.com
poll results
McCain peaked after the GOP convention (Washington Post, Oct 3, 2008)

The trend lines are now going Obama's way. McCain's frantic, flailing response to the financial crisis has shaken confidence in him; by contrast, Obama's measured, calm response enhanced his standing.

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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