First, I would like to see all the Sarah doubters and detractors in the Beltway/Manhattan corridor eat their words.
Sarah Palin is the real deal. Five weeks on the campaign trail, thrust onto the national stage, she rocked tonight’s debate.
She was warm, fresh, funny, confident, energetic, personable, relentless, and on message. She roasted Obama’s flip-flops on the surge and tea-with-dictators declarations, dinged Biden’s bash-Bush rhetoric, challenged the blame-America defeatism of the Left, and exuded the sunny optimism that energized the base in the first place.
McCain has not done many things right. But Sarah Palin proved tonight that the VP risk he took was worth it.
Her performance also underscored the underhandedness of the hatchet job editors at ABC News and CBS News, which failed to capture her solid competence on the whole array of foreign and domestic policy issues on the debate table tonight. (I didn’t care for all the “greed” rhetoric, but I understand they are trying to appeal to independents and Dems. They’re trying to win the election.)
Pause to reflect on this: She matched — and trumped several times — a man who has spent his entire adult life on the political stage, run for president twice, and as he mentioned several times, chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sarah Palin looked presidential.
Joe Biden looked tired.
Sarah made history.
Biden is history.
Prediction: Watch for a whole new, severe strain of Palin Derangement Syndrome to begin tonight.
They hated her before tonight. They are going to pour on more unfathomable hate at a level we have never seen before.
Sarah, we’re praying for you.
Frank Luntz’s focus group agrees: Sarah rocks.
Reader Brett had a sharp observation: “Palin amazingly avoided falling into a trap when Gwen Ifill asked whether she agreed with Biden on a [particular] issue — instead Palin repeated the question and stated her answer — rather than say ‘I agree’ — like Obama said so many times at an earlier debate.”
Yes, that was excellent.
I have been involved in and observed politics for a long time. Governor Palin is a truly unique national figure. She is down to earth, personable, and smart as hell. That’s right. She has been on the national scene for a little over a month, she has been campaigning everywhere, she has had to bone up on all kinds of national issues, and she has shown class throughout. Too often too many are persuaded by the mainstream media’s opinion and react to that. This should be another lesson in that regard. As for some of her populist views, she cannot openly campaign against the positions of her presidential running mate. She is the bright light in this campaign from my perspective.
Previous: Liveblogging the debate.
As for Gwen “Age of Obama” Ifill, she behaved herself for the most part. She was duly chastened. But the questions and the controversy and the double standards don’t go away. As I wrote in my column this week:
It’s not the color of your skin, sweetie. It’s the color of your politics. Perhaps Ifill will be able to conceal it this week. But if the “stunning” “Breakthrough” she’s rooting for comes to pass on January 20, 2009, nobody will be fooled.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
As I noted in my liveblog, Gwen Ifill failed to disclose her book and financial conflict of interest at the start of the debate. It’s a travesty.
…it was an unmitigated disgrace for her to be presiding — and she is smart enough to know that, so not stepping aside was a culpable act.
Jim Hoft attended the Palin post-debate rally. Great photos.
A school of thought is emerging that Barack Obama has an advanced form of narcissistic personality disorder. I heartily agree with Robert Bowie Johnson and Dr. Sam Vaknin in their shared conclusion, but I reached it from a somewhat different route. I had been trying to write an article comparing our political candidates to circus freaks such as chameleons, phoobs, and contortionists. But I was stumped when I came to Obama, who seems to partake of all of these metaphors.
He seems more like a child prodigy. Those enraptured with his gifts urge him on, like anxious parents, trying to pull that sustained, dazzling performance out of him that they believe he’s capable of; they are willing to put up with the prodigy’s occasional listlessness and crabbiness, his flights of self-regard and self-righteousness.
“Narcissists have normal, even superior, intellectual development while remaining emotionally and morally immature. Dealing with them can give you the sense of trying to have a reasonable discussion with a very clever six-year-old — this is an age when normal children are grandiose and exhibitionistic, when they are very resistant to taking the blame for their own misbehavior, when they understand what the rules are (e.g., that lying, cheating, and stealing are prohibited) but are still trying to wriggle out of accepting those rules for themselves.”
But I warn you that, if you read it, you will be very anxious until the election is over — and perhaps even more so in the years to come.
I must admit to being quite taken aback, last week, by Kathleen Parker’s insistence that Sarah Palin do the Country and her Party the favor of withdrawing from this race. One is left to only imagine whether Ms. Parker is of the same mind today, or whether she will now be sending this advice to Joe Biden instead.
“I just owe almost everything to my father and it’s passionately interesting for me that the things that I learned in a small town, in a very modest home, are just the things that I believe have won the election.”
“In a president, character is everything. A president doesn’t have to be brilliant… He doesn’t have to be clever; you can hire clever… You can hire pragmatic, and you can buy and bring in policy wonks. But you can’t buy courage and decency, you can’t rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him… He needs to have, in that much maligned word, but a good one nonetheless, a “vision” of the future he wishes to create.. But a vision is worth little if a president doesn’t have the character– the courage and heart– to see it through.”
The “Pit Bull” Returns
By Jacob Laksin
FrontPageMagazine.com | 10/3/2008
In the weeks preceding yesterday’s vice presidential debate, one might have been forgiven for suspecting a vast right-wing conspiracy to lower expectations for Sarah Palin. A platitude-filled interview with Katie Couric, spoofed on “Saturday Night Live” and lamented by unnamed but oft-quoted “top advisers to John McCain,” seemed to underscore the impression that the attractive Alaska governor was all style and no substance – and certainly no match for a Senate heavyweight like Joe Biden.
Palin did nothing to discourage such deflationary talk. For instance, she suggested that she was overmatched by the experienced Biden when she said that she’d been listening to his “speeches since I was in the second grade.” So pronounced did the underselling of Palin become that even the Obama campaign felt compelled to bolster the case for the really “terrific debater” who would “give a great performance next Thursday.”
Alas for the Obama camp, their spin was more precise. Time and again in their Thursday night debate, Palin not only stood her ground against Biden but, on issue after issue, outperformed her Democratic counterpart. This political pit-bull, it turns out, has bark and bite.
It didn’t hurt Palin that Biden seemed determined to rehearse the more dubious charges of the Obama campaign. Several times, Biden suggested that John McCain had pushed for a special tax break for oil companies like Exxon Mobil at the expense of tax relief for the middle class, a charge that first aired in an Obama TV ad earlier this summer. At the time, the non-partisan website PoltiFact.com, maintained by the St. Petersburg Times, demonstrated that it was a serious distortion of McCain’s support for a broad reduction in corporate taxes.
Palin went one better. Not only did she identify by name Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, but she went on to point out, accurately, that Obama himself had voted for the 2005 energy bill that granted tax breaks to oil companies, and contrasted it with her own much-publicized battles with oil companies in Alaska. (Palin was too nice to mention that Obama’s crusading against Exxon hasn’t prevented him from pocketing more than $30,000 from Exxon-Mobil employees.) A minor issue in the context of the wider debate, it nonetheless established straightaway that Palin not only understood the details of policy – something that her recent televised flops had given cause to doubt – but would not be bullied on politics.
And, indeed, she wasn’t. Take foreign policy. As the reigning chairman and longtime member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden was thought to have a clear advantage on the subject. It was just one of the assumptions demolished in the course of the debate. When Biden tried to defend Obama’s record on the Iraq war, Palin countered with some inconvenient praise, noting that Biden had earlier “opposed the move [Obama] made to try to cut off funding for the troops and I respect you for that.”
Going on the attack, Palin then asked how Biden could defend Obama’s position “especially with your son in the National Guard.” The reference to Beau Biden, a captain in Delaware’s National Guard, was particularly clever, coming as it did from Biden’s very own political playbook: During the primaries last August, Biden had scorned his Democratic opponents for voting against funding for the troops “to make a political point,” memorably adding that “there’s no political point worth my son’s life.” He couldn’t have imagined then how the line would come back to haunt him.
To shift the topic, Biden reached for a standard Democratic talking point. Iraq, he insisted, was a distraction from the real war on terror. Palin again gave no ground. Democrats’ claims to the contrary notwithstanding, she countered, Iraq is indeed a central front in the war on terror. “And as for who coined that central war on terror being in Iraq, it was General Petraeus and al Qaeda,” said Palin, amusingly pointing out that this was the “only thing that they’re ever going to agree on.” Against Palin’s pointed outline of the stakes in Iraq, Biden’s promise to withdraw troops in adherence with a political timeline seemed especially out of touch. And although Palin did not raise the point directly, viewers were left to wonder: How would President Obama make good on his promises to defeat al-Qaeda when he and his running mate refuse to recognize Iraq as a key battleground in the war on terror?
Palin proved even more adept in pricking the Democratic ticket’s pretensions to bi-partisanship. When Biden suggested that an Obama presidency would end polarization in Washington, Palin noted that Obama cast some 96 percent of his votes “solely along party line.” As Biden strained to play the loyal surrogate, Palin not only called attention to McCain’s record of breaking with his own party, but proudly boasted that he “never asked me to check my opinions at the door.”
Biden had hardly burnished his bi-partisan credentials when he revealed that his great insight as a senator was to recognize that judicial nominees should not be evaluated on their service record or qualifications but on the basis of their political ideology, citing as a putative achievement his successful 1987 campaign to defeat the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork. Those who recall Biden’s role in misrepresenting the record of Judge Bork – a Yale law professor and a member of the prestigious Court of Appeals whose great failing was to be a judicial conservative – might wonder how it supports his pledge to usher in an era of post-partisanship.
The discrepancy was not lost on Palin. In one of her most effective lines of the evening, she rebuffed Biden’s partisan attempts to tie McCain to the Bush administration by observing that “for a ticket that wants to talk about change and looking into the future, there’s just too much finger-pointing backwards to ever make us believe that that’s where you’re going.” As with so many other times in the debate, Biden had no compelling answer.
Nor could the Washington veteran match Palin’s engaging presence, which ultimately turned the debate in her favor. Charming, gracious, and politically fluent, she deftly inserted populist references to “Main Streeters like me” and even forced a crack in Biden’s steely façade when she premised a rejoinder with a ringing, “Say it ain’t so, Joe!”
Biden, by contrast, was stiff and hectoring, with his recurrent admonition – “Let me say that again” – calling to mind all the pompousness of the entrenched political class. One almost expected the Senator to address himself in the third person, which in fact he did, when he assured his interviewer, Gwen Ifill, that “no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden.” That is debatable. More certain is that Joe Biden has had better debates.
Presidential campaigns rarely hinge on political debates, and yesterday’s duel is unlikely to reverse this history. It does, however, confirm a point that until yesterday seemed increasingly uncertain. If John McCain loses the election, it won’t be because of Sarah Palin.
Jacob Laksin is a senior editor for FrontPage Magazine. He is a 2007 Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellow. His e-mail is email@example.com