Friday, October 03, 2008

Be-all, End-all

It may have been the phrase uttered by Sarah Palin last night to describe the use of nuclear weaponry, but it's not exactly what I'd use to describe Sarah Palin -- or her performance during the debate last night.

Neither Biden nor Palin committed any major mistakes, much to the chagrin of the media (and the watching public), who were hoping for Biden to utter one of his infamous gaffes or Palin to go running of the stage in a huff. See e.g., Palin meets expectations but still falls short.

Biden was substantive on the issues (which led to a charge that he was somewhat boring, at least in the beginning) and Palin was a combination of perky and folksy, repeating talking points ad infinitum. On the other hand, while Biden improved over the course of the debate, Palin followed the her trajectory over the course of the campaign. She started our with a lot of glitter, but she ended up grating over time.

As Andrew Sullivan summed up, The Bottom Line:

The campaign's trajectory remains unaltered. Palin's inability to answer real questions, her capacity to avoid follow-ups, her slightly manic quality, and her inability to relate to working class voters came across. Biden did not talk too much; he made no sexist gaffes; he didn't appear to be overweening; he seemed like a nice guy. I think she managed to avoid a tailspin; he reassured. It will stem the GOP collapse a little. But it won't change the race.
I love the fact that the best that could be said about Palin in the post debate commentary is that she exceeded expectations because she wasn't an embarrassment. See and McCain Lost the VP Debate Too. Dick Polin was trying to be positive by saying that she "excelled to the best of her abilities," hardly the endorsement you'd wish for. Biden with the wind at his back.

I have to admit that I didn't end up seeing all of the debate. My daughter asked me to read a paper she wrote that was due today and then we ended up chatting via webcam. As much as I was looking forward to watching Palin/Biden in action, there was no contest between watching her on video vs. the debate. And, although she expressed no interest in watching the debate, she did send in her application for an absentee ballot -- on her own initiative.

However, I did end up seeing most of the highlights that I missed either on-line or during the post-debate commentary.

In the end, it seemed that the match-up ended up being a debate between the right stuff vs. fluff. Perhaps it was Biden as the "be-all" and Palin as the "end-all."

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