02 October 2008

Yep, Sarah Palin Won The Veep Debate

I admit that I may not be the best choice to judge who won the debate. Those of you who are Khaki Elephant regulars know that I was calling for John McCain to add Sarah Palin to the ticket before Tina Fey knew that Alaskans had Midwestern accents. Saying I am biased on the topic of Palin is like observing that Chris Matthews gets the giggles for Obama. So I suppose the question in my mind is not whether I thought Palin won the debate, I'm in no position to objectively analyze that (though she won it handily), but whether or not I think her performance will provide a bump in the polls.

The answer is yes. She was solid on substance and spectacular on style. I can't help but feel that most Americans not already opining Obama felt for the first time in a debate of this magnitude that they weren't watching a politician; which, of course, makes her the most effective of politicians.

First, substance. Most pundits knew Palin would do well on the issue areas she managed as a regulator, mayor and Alaskan governor -- taxes and energy. And while liberal pundits will claim that Palin was "short on details" even a cursory review of the debate transcript reveals that not to be the case.

When it came to corporate taxes, Biden tried to tether McCain's employer based stimulus plan solely to the hitch post of dastardly oil companies by repeatedly complaining that McCain's plan is picket-worthy unfair because it gives tax breaks "for the MobileExxons of the world." Meanwhile, Palin went to the heart addressing the Oil Company CEOs directly with,
"And that's why Tillerson at Exxon and Mulva at ConocoPhillips, bless their hearts, they're doing what they need to do, as corporate CEOs, but they're not my biggest fans, because what I had to do up there in Alaska was to break up a monopoly."
Biden was more effective when talking about middle class tax cuts and the need for universal health care. But even there Palin was strong with specifics, pointing out that Obama's tax plan would impact millions of small businesses that fall into the $250,000+ bracket. And when it came to health care, she did OK with defense of the $5,000 tax credit and the plan to erase state lines for competitive pricing, but she struck pure Klondike gold with pointing out that Obama's health care plan . . .

"is to have universal government run program and unless you're pleased with the way the federal government has been running anything lately, I don't think that it's going to be real pleasing for Americans to consider health care being taken over by the feds."

Predictably, the Alaskan Governor really hit her stride when talking about energy. She pointed out that she oversaw the construction of "a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline which is North America's largest and most you expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets." She then talked knowledgeably about the amount of available oil and natural gas, explained the environmental footprint of extraction, chided Biden's comments about "raping the outer continental shelf," rebutted Biden's call for "clean coal" by reminding him that he had previously said there was no such thing, and even took the time to correct the Senator's misquote of the rally chant "Drill, baby, drill."

But the true challenge for Sarah Palin was foreign policy. She could not hope to match Biden in knowledge of the topic; she just had to move the focus from knowledge to ideology. After all, everybody knows she wasn't added to the McCain ticket because of her friendship with Angela Merkel. She was selected for her executive experience, reputation for reform, conservative ideology and female genitalia.

Admittedly, Joe Biden gave a strong showing on foreign policy, much stronger, in fact, than the primary on the Democratic ticket did last week. But Palin went toe-to-toe with him and scored several sound points using conservative ideology. She spoke about winning the war in Iraq. She referenced the heroic leadership of General Petraus who the left attempted to demonize not so long ago. Palin praised Israel, promising to protect them from another holocaust and work toward a two-state solution in the region that includes building an embassy in Jerusalem. And when it came to the endless Obama/Biden references to Bush, she provided the best take I have heard from any member of the McCain team, including the man himself.

when we talk about the Bush administration, there's a time when Americans are going to say, "Enough is enough with your ticket," on constantly looking backwards, and pointing fingers, and doing the blame game.

There have been huge blunders in the war. There have been huge blunders throughout this administration, as there are with every administration. But 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.

Then came back later with:
Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future.
You see, strong as she was on substance, it was style where she scored the win and will create a bounce for Republicans. And based on the fact that Biden was hucking Barack Obama instead of Hillary Clinton, we can safely assume that style trumps substance this election cycle.

Biden was pure Washington. He talked about his record, spoke the language of the hill, and attacked by parsing votes and bandying beefy buzzwords. Even references to his own biography seemed staged . . . with the exception of those few moments when he discussed being a single father.

Palin, on the other hand, was intelligent but approachable. She was Abe Lincoln in heels. She even pulled herself outside of current political morass by turning to Biden and saying.
Oh, yeah, it's so obvious I'm a Washington outsider. And someone just not used to the way you guys operate. Because here you voted for the war and now you oppose the war. You're one who says, as so many politicians do, I was for it before I was against it or vice- versa. Americans are craving that straight talk and just want to know, hey, if you voted for it, tell us why you voted for it when it was a war resolution.
I believe she struck a cord with most Americans. She said things the way we want them to be said. And she said things that most politicians frankly wouldn't even have the courage to say. Including my favorite moment of the debate:

Darn right it was the predator lenders, who tried to talk Americans into thinking that it was smart to buy a $300,000 house if we could only afford a $100,000 house. There was deception there, and there was greed and there is corruption on Wall Street. And we need to stop that.Again, John McCain and I, that commitment that we have made, and we're going to follow through on that, getting rid of that corruption.

One thing that Americans do at this time, also, though, is let's commit ourselves just every day American people, Joe Six Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say never again. Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars. We need to make sure that we demand from the federal government strict oversight of those entities in charge of our investments and our savings and we need also to not get ourselves in debt. Let's do what our parents told us before we probably even got that first credit card. Don't live outside of our means. We need to make sure that as individuals we're taking personal responsibility through all of

It's not the American peoples fault that the economy is hurting like it is, but we have an opportunity to learn a heck of a lot of good lessons through this and say never again will we be taken advantage of.

UPDATE: Post debate fact-checkers are beginning to examine the claims of both candidates from the debate and Joe Biden has already been found in an extraordinary number of lies: 14 at first swag. Check them out at The Michigan Republican Party Blog.

UPDATE #2: Just when I thought that I was a fair and balanced moderate, I found part of my VP debate analysis on the liberal blog All Facts and Opinions with the following introduction: "Obviously, this is from a hard-spinning right-wing blog. Must admit — it’s fun to watch a Republican spin so hard in support of a woman. Ah, the times…" Time for me to get a Michael Moore infusion.