Did Palin “Establish Debating Parity” with Joe Biden?

David Brooks thinks she did:

There are some moments when members of a political movement come together as one, sharing the same thoughts, feeling the same emotions, breathing the same shallow breaths. One of those occasions occurred Thursday night when Republicans around the country crouched nervously behind their sofas, glimpsed out tentatively at their flat screens and gripped their beverages tightly as Sarah Palin walked onto the debate stage at Washington University in St. Louis.

There she was, resplendent in black, striding out like a power-walker, and greeting Joe Biden like an assertive salesman, first-naming him right off the bat.

Just as the midcentury psychologist Abraham Maslow predicted, Republicans watching the debate had a hierarchy of needs. First, they had a need for survival. Was this woman capable of completing an extemporaneous paragraph — a collection of sentences with subjects, verbs, objects and, if possible, an actual meaning?

By the end of her opening answers, it was clear she would meet the test. She spoke with that calm, measured poise that marked her convention speech, not the panicked meanderings of her subsequent interviews.
[...]
With a bemused smile and a never-ending flow of words, she laid out her place on the ticket — as the fearless neighbor for the heartland bemused by the idiocies of Washington. Her perpetual smile served as foil to Biden’s senatorial seriousness.

This gushing, over-the-top praise is echoing all over Wingnuttia. As Brooks himself admits, however, the bar for Palin was set at the lowest rung. She only had to survive, and to do that, she only needed to form coherent sentences. And if she survived, that would mean she performed on par with Joe Biden. And if she performed on par with Biden, that really meant that she won.

Certainly, Palin was very well-prepped. That’s undeniable. There is such a thing as being over-rehearsed, though, and Palin was. I think she memorized the talking points, and it showed in her robotic presentation. When something unexpected occurred she was completely thrown off her game. The best example of that was her failure to acknowledge, in any way, the poignant moment toward the end of the debate when Biden choked up for a moment while talking about his personal experience with being a single parent after his wife and son were killed in a car accident.

As Kyle wrote, that may well turn out to be her biggest blunder of the evening, but it certainly wasn’t the only one.

Here are the ones I have come across; Kyle has already mentioned some of them; others I’ve seen elsewhere in the post-debate vetting:

  • Palin misidentified the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan: His name is McKiernan, not McClellan, as Palin said several times. Josh Marshall suggests wordlessly that she may have been thinking of the Civil War general, George McClellan.
  • After getting his name wrong, Palin misstated Gen. McKiernan’s position on an Iraq-like surge tactic being used in Afghanistan. Responding to Biden’s point that the U.S. top commander in Afghanistan had said a surge would not work in Afghanistan, Palin asserted, “… McClellan did not say definitively that the surge principles would not work in Afghanistan. …” But, in fact, he did. (Via Talking Points Memo.)
  • Biden expressed his understanding that McCain opposed giving bankruptcy courts the ability to adjust mortgage principal as well as interest rates to help Americans stay in their homes. Gwen Ifill asked Palin if that was so, and she said, “That is not so.” She was wrong
  • Palin said we are down to pre-surge levels in Iraq. We are not.
  • Palin said that Obama has voted to increase taxes 94 times. Not true, says Jake Tapper: “That’s a wildly inflated number Palin threw out; the actual number is closer to half that.”
  • On global warming, Palin made the same nonsensical statement she made during her interview with Katie Couric: “I’m not one to attribute every man — activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man’s activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet.” Then she added, “But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don’t want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?” First of all, it’s well-established scientifically that human activities are the major cause of climate change. Second, global warming cannot be solved unless the causes have been established. How do you solve a problem without knowing what’s causing the problem? That really is a stupid, illogical thing to say.
  • Palin continues to identify Ahmadinejad with Iran’s foreign policy and nuclear program (as most right-wingers do), which is inaccurate and shows a profound misreading of Iranian politics. Biden made this  clear: “The fact of the matter is, it surprises me that Senator McCain doesn’t realize that Ahmadinejad does not control the security apparatus in Iran. The theocracy controls the security apparatus. …” (And on this point, check out Michael Ledeen’s bizarre non-sequitur objection to the word “theocracy.” If you can make sense of that, you’re better than I am. It never stops startling me, how odd these people are.)
  • Palin repeated her comment about needing to prevent Iran from committing a “second Holocaust.” The equation of a possible attack on Israel by a nuclear Iran with the systematic extermination of European Jewry is factually and historically ignorant. It may be politically expedient to whip up war hysteria by comparing every enemy of the moment to Hitler, but having been raised by parents who were Holocaust survivors, I find it personally offensive.

The early post-debate polls show overwhelming consensus among Americans who watched the debate: Biden won. Independents went for Biden over Palin on all the issues identified as important in other polls of this group. And the debate was viewed by more people than any other vice-presidential debate ever: almost 70 million.

2 Responses to “Did Palin “Establish Debating Parity” with Joe Biden?”

  1. Burr Deming says:

    Thank you. Your opinion is presented thoughtfully.

    But I have not yet heard anyone from any side express any concern about the most dangerous possibility if Governor Palin is elected to national office.

  2. tas says:

    I heard that David Brooks was incubated in a baby-sized bag of douche after he was born. That would sure explain a lot…

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