Last night’s vice presidential debate was very enjoyable for me. Joe Biden hit all the right notes and showed that he has a firm grasp on both domestic and foreign policy issues and supports his candidate’s positions on how to move forward. His demeanor was perfect: not too snarky and condescending but not too wishy-washy either.
Sarah Palin, on the other hand, was, as David Gregory on MSNBC just said, “a folksy, cliche machine”. It’s almost painful for me to watch someone talk who is clearly going through mental note cards and repeating lines that have been drilled in to her.
What’s bizarre was watching her not only repeatedly not answer the questions that were asked and completely change the subject but actually acknowledging it!
“I may not answer the questions the way you or the moderator want…”
Of course this is a tactic that candidates frequently use in debates but rarely are they so bold about it and rarely are they so blatant about it. For example, during a discussion about healthcare, it was Palin’s turn to answer:
IFILL: Governor, please if you want to respond to what he said about Sen. McCain’s comments about health care?
PALIN: I would like to respond about the tax increases.
Amazing. Up to that point, the only reference to taxes at all was a brief mention by Biden that middle class Americans need tax relief. In her answer, Palin went on to accuse Obama of the sin of “voting to raise taxes 94 times.” Fortunately, Joe Biden pointed out that her running mate voted identically to Senator Obama on the bill she spoke about.
But, I guess for me, the scariest bit came when Gwen Ifill said, “…tell us now, looking forward, what it is you think the vice presidency is worth now.”
Palin’s answer was a deft combination of Dick Cheney and that clueless “and such as” Miss South Carolina beauty queen:
“Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that’s not only to preside over the Senate and will take that position very seriously also. I’m thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president’s policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are….”
and then, a few moments later:
IFILL: Governor, you mentioned a moment ago the constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past. Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?
PALIN: Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president’s agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we’ll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation. And it is my executive experience that is partly to be attributed to my pick as V.P. with McCain, not only as a governor, but earlier on as a mayor, as an oil and gas regulator, as a business owner. It is those years of experience on an executive level that will be put to good use in the White House also.
It actually almost seems like she’s interpretting the role of the vice president even more broadly than Dick Cheney does. And such as.
Thankfully, it appears that the American voters are not going to let this lightweight poser anywhere near the White House. And for that I am truly thankful.
I’m just sayin’…