Thursday, October 2, 2008

Live Blog and Open Thread: The Vice Presidential Debate

10:40pm: Oh, Gwen Ifill is on crutches heading out of the hall (on C-SPAN). Not that it matters, but that is something I've never seen. I always thought presidential debate moderators were invincible. Another childhood dream shattered.

10:34pm: That's all folks. An interesting debate. Palin played it folksy and certainly surpassed the extremely low bar that had been set for her. Biden avoided all the potential pitfalls. [I think. I did briefly catch something about a wink at some point in The Fix's twittering of the proceedings. I'll have to investigate that. Update: The wink was from Palin early on apparently. Now I'm going to have to go to the tape.] But I don't really think this one changed anything. There was no train wreck (Palin bumbling through answers or Biden saying something he shouldn't have.) and no one really provided a wow performance. Thoughts?

10:31pm: I'm starting to see Tina Fey doing those poses while Hillary Clinton/Amy Poehler spoke in that SNL sketch. She's looking off in to the audience and smiling. Meanwhile Biden is wrapping up trying to hit all the points here from the middle class to the troops abroad.

10:29pm: The media is out to get Palin. She's unfiltered here though, she adds.

10:27pm: Change the tone of Washington? Hey, a Jesse Helms reference from Biden. He learned not to question other senator's motives. Palin attempts to tie herself to Biden and McCain by talking about doing similar things in an attempt to isolate Obama.

10:24pm: Last question: Changing positions based on circumstances. Biden: judicial nominations and ideology. Palin: "Quasi-caving?" Ooh, I wouldn't have used that language. But I probably wouldn't be up there. But this is a broad answer that doesn't really say anything.

10:22pm: Honestly, I'm shocked we have not heard the L word this whole time. I really thought we'd hear "maverick" and "most liberal" mentioned an awful lot tonight. Well, one out of two ain't bad.

10:20pm: Discipline? Biden's weakest trait. He counters it may be his passion. That one falls flat and even elicits uneasy laughter from the audience. He rebounds well by going into his biography.

10:18pm: Palin on gubernatorial experience and her experience generally: Alaska is a huge state? Well, in terms of area perhaps. It ain't California, though.

10:16pm: Palin from tripping over Supreme Court questions with Couric to answering constitutional questions on her potential position as VP. Biden calls Cheney dangerous and gets into specifics of Article I. Different definitions on display here. Legislative role for VP? Biden says only to break ties.

10:11pm: "Say it ain't so, Joe" Palin on Biden looking back at Bush policy and attacking them.

10:03pm: Palin's very authentic in talking about her outsider status in response to Biden's discussion of Bosnia and Darfur. And she moves effortlessly into her talking points. But what we have on display is not age versus experience but outsider versus insider and there is some overlap between the two.

10:02pm: Bosniacs? I'm not familiar with that ethnic group, Joe. Oh, can I call you Joe?

10:00pm: Palin is forcefully talking to Biden on the tactics/strategy in Afghanistan. Biden stumbles getting out of the blocks in response.

9:56pm: We are about an hour in. This is a good debate. More entertaining than the one the other night, but I still don't see it as a game changer. Palin is doing well, but not enough to sway a significant portion of those 34% of voters who think that this debate is consequential to their vote decision.

9:54pm: Oh, good line of attack from Palin. [And I'm paraphrasing to borrow a phrase from Biden tonight.] "For a ticket focused on change, you sure are focused on looking to the past and attacking the Bush administration."

9:51pm: On to Israel. Palin supports a two state solution. Biden thinks the Bush administration has been way off on Israel. Wrong on everything from Hezbollah and Lebanon to Hamas in the West Bank.

9:48pm: I love that we now refer to the leadership in Cuba as the Castro brothers. It sounds like a band. A communist, America-hating band, but a band nonetheless.

9:47pm: Iran and Pakistan? Biden pivots to Afghanistan and the Democrats' definition of the central front on terrorism.

9:44pm: And now on to funding of the troops. Barack Obama hasn't according to Palin and Biden still doesn't think McCain understands what's going on.

9:42pm: "
We will end this war!" Biden.

Palin, after an awkward pause: "Your plan is a white flag of surrender."

And on to foreign policy. How about the surge? Palin takes the McCain line. Biden: "With all due respect, I didn't hear a plan." Shifting response to the Iraqis.

9:38pm: Palin: the traditional definition of marriage. Biden: the traditional definition of marriage. Hey, agreement can happen.

9:36pm: Ah, (non-economic) domestic issues. Why not bring up a wedge issue first? How about gay marriage couched in terms of what is happening in Alaska with benefits for gay couples.

9:34pm: And Palin corrects Biden on the "Drill, baby, drill" chant. She's awfully good in a debate format. Interviews maybe not. But she's warmed up tonight.

Ooh, Biden brought up clean coal. Palin is writing notes on that one. Here she goes.

"If you don't understand the problem, you can't come up with a solution." Biden on the differences in the two tickets' approaches to the climate change issue.

9:27pm: "Toxic waste on Main St. is affecting Wall St. ." She flip-flopped that line. Not that she has lines.

9:25pm: If you aren't watching the full time split screens on C-SPAN, you are missing half the debate. The reactions are classic. And no, I don't work for C-SPAN, nor are they paying me.

9:21pm: Biden: "I call that the ultimate bridge to nowhere."

9:18pm: This is right where this debate is, both internally and externally: This tax discussion is about Reagan era, small government ideals versus a governmental role assisting citizens. Is the pendulum swinging back on this one? Public opinion on this government bailout sure is low.

9:14pm: Palin's good. Her debating style will play well in Peoria. The nerves are gone and she's warmed up.

...enough to get cut off by Gwen Ifill.

9:10pm: Palin apparently got the memo on the eye contact thing. She's trained on the cameras but she's already looked at Biden in rebuttal to his discussion of McCain's "fundamentals".

9:08pm: And there's the rebuttal to McCain voting 90% of the time with the Bush administrator line. "Obama has voted along party lines 96% of the time."

9:07pm: Biden is in attack mode.

9:06pm: Palin seems slightly nervous. Playing up John McCain and hasn't moved into the attack dog role. Ah, it's the first question.

9:04pm: Huh? The economy? I'm shocked this was the first lead question. Biden's off first and he's pointing out deregulation already.

9:03pm: "Can I call you Joe?" Nice, folksy icebreaker from Palin.

8:58pm: C-SPAN is showing podiums and unless Biden and Palin are sitting on them, I'd say this one will follow the presidential debate on Friday as a stand-behind-the-podium deal.

8:43pm: Here's a note on the format tonight (Yes, I think I've got it right this time.). From the Commission on Presidential Debates:
Vice presidential debate: all topics, moderated by Gwen Ifill
Thursday, October 2, Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

-Ninety-second answers, followed by two-minute discussion for each question. Two-minute closing statements.
I couldn't glean from the press release whether this is a stand up or sit down debate. We'll know shortly.

8:24pm: Incidentally, I'll be watching the debate tonight on C-SPAN. Hopefully they don't pull the ol' switcheroo on me like the did last week when the presidential debate was on C-SPAN2 -- a channel FHQ does not have access to -- and left me scrambling at the last minute to find any channel in time. Anyway, C-SPAN does have a nice resource in their Debate Hub, which will not only be streaming things live tonight, but has some nice features as well.

7:10pm: We are t-minus one hour and fifty minutes until go time at the vice presidential debate in St. Louis. I'm going on record now -- and I may hate myself in the morning because of it -- to say that this debate will be watched by a greater audience than the first presidential debate last Friday night. It is a classic Howard Stern scenario. People are tuning in for two completely polar opposite reasons. Either potential viewers like Sarah Palin and want to see her do well or they can't stand her and are awaiting the train wreck. Regardless, Joe Biden seems almost ancillary to tonight's debate (...unless he puts his foot in his mouth in a major way.).

And that brings us to the goals for each candidate tonight.

Biden simply needs to avoid the George Bush (circa 1984) trap and continue his convention attack on McCain.

For Palin, the bar has been lowered significantly by a few rocky interviews and the fact that the moderator, Gwen Ifill, has a forthcoming book about politics and race post-Obama.

For me, I'm trying to make it through one of these things without being booed again. But I digress...

Tonight should be fun and while you're waiting for the festivities to begin, why not interview Sarah Palin yourself? Thanks to the folks at the Princeton Election Consortium for the link.

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cbsmith42 said...

Sorry for booing you last time. For what it's worth, I've been back twice a day everyday since :)

Josh Putnam said...

No worries. I didn't take it personally. Due to the pace of things, I didn't give that line of reasoning the full treatment it deserved in real time.

Robert said...

Thanks for the word on split screens. I don't have C-SPAN, but CBS has split screen sometimes.

Josh Putnam said...

I haven't checked the online stream, but check out what C-SPAN has to offer there. It may be up tomorrow on the online replay they post.

Jack said...

What the hell is an "open tread"?

Then again, I had a quiz today in class and the list of questions included, rather than the "Peace of Augsburg," the "Peach of Augsburg." So you're not alone.

Robert said...

Can't find it on the C-SPAN website. I agree that this is a much better debate than the one last week. Both candidates are exceeding expectations.

Jack said...

Josh, I just looked it up. Bosniaksis correct. And what's with criticizing everything Biden does? Every time Palin attacks Obama, Biden seems to come back with something quite strong. Yes, I know expectations are low for Palin, and she might be slightly exceeding them, but she's still giving unsubstantative answers in a debate where everyone is looking out for unsubstantative answers because of her Couric interviews.

Josh Putnam said...

Open tread? I have no idea what you are talking about. That title never existed. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

Good catch on the Bosniaks. I must admit I've never heard that. But maybe it's because I'm not from Washington and don't understand their ways.

Jack said...

No, I didn't remember ever hearing the term "Bosniaks" either. That's why I looked it up.

Biden just had a good line a minute ago but I've already forgotten it. I'm too tired to watch debates. Maybe I'll look at the transcript tomorrow if I have time, but too much schoolwork.

I haven't heard so much bullshit from anyone since ... the Couric interview. You're supposed to talk about the past, at least somewhat! Especially when you're asked about it! Biden was asked about the Bush administration - he answered the question - which is more than Palin ever seems to do - and then Palin attacks Biden for talking about the past!

These low expectations may actually hurt Palin because people are more on the alert for phony answers than normal.

Robert said...

I believe that Gwen Ifill is doing an excellent job.

Josh Putnam said...

Palin is very obviously delivering lines in some places and I agree that Biden is quite strong in his responses, but he should be. The bar is higher there. His goals again are to attack McCain and he has been on point there and very knowledgeable.

Jack said...

What is she talking about with this "more power to the vice president" stuff?

Robert said...

Biden has been very good in the last 30 minutes etc. in tying McCain to the Bush administration, and Palin has not deflected it that well. Her mention of McCain as the original maverick is getting a little old.

Jack said...

Trying to call McCain the candidate of change hasn't worked at all this time. It's not going to work now. And she's been doing it the whole time.

Overall, I'd say she lived up to my expectations and a little bit above most people's. I figured she'd be better than she was in the Couric issue - and she was. But hardly brilliant.

Robert said...

Biden hit her hard on the maverick line, and scored.

Josh Putnam said...

90 minutes may have been too long for Palin. The fatigue showed as she leaned on her canned lines through the last part. Biden stayed on message and I thought delivered rich details throughout. Too many details? I don't know. But that was certainly a contrast between the two; one that we all knew about coming in.

Jack said...

I think this year people want more details than in the past, even if they don't want to be overwhelmed with statistics. And details from Biden are particularly good here because they draw attention to the fact that Palin provided none.

One of the dangers of becoming too detail-oriented is not connecting on a personal level. But Biden certainly can't be accused of this. Overall, this was an A performance from Biden. Palin gets a C+ because she is Palin. Kind of like when Nate graded Bush's "convention speech": "GWB A- (hell yes, there's a curve."

Josh Putnam said...

Thanks for stopping by and participating everyone. See you all on Tuesday when we do it all over again, town hall style.

Anonymous said...

Well that put me to sleep. It is very boring to watch the 2 posible V.P.'s dance around and say nothing new when both platforms are about "Change". What A JOKE. Yea ill vote but, my god im thinking 3rd party after the past two debates. Ron Paul sounds beter every day. Real change starts at the bottom , it doesnt fall like rain from the gods , its planted like a seed of education in all the children of the whole world, not just our little plot of land. So basicaly what i saw was, BURN BABY BURN , i would rather vote for the JOKER, then at least then, I would only be responsible to bail myself out and not bail out the broken system that has our parents paying for there own grave, Ill dig my own thanks. Bring back states rights , F@@@ the company store. bring troops home do it NOW. Is there a problem with the Economy , fix it , stop pretending that the dollar is worth the paper its printed on, bring back the gold standard. and health care I say lets get rid of the "pusher man" and thoes real drugs, good quality food will allways be better than supliments. 700 billion come on anyone with a brain could fix the planet with that monoply money. Thats it for now cant wait till next tim on " As the World Burns" LIVE on every channel.

tanyaa said...

Sarah Palin

* She confirmed that John McCain wants to put a cap on carbon emissions.
* She said that the nation had to become “energy independent,” conserving fuel and clean up the planet.
* She talked of America’s cry for tapping into domestic energy sources, saying they support a “drill, baby, drill” attitude as a measure for becoming energy independent
* She criticized Biden for an overheard comment he made on a rope line that appeared to contradict Barack Obama’s support of building clean coal plants.
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