Friday, October 3, 2008

Biden Wins Vice Presidential Debate

In a poll among undecided voters, by CBS, Biden was declared the winner of tonight Vice-Presidential Debate.

Overall, Palin survived, and did so by repeating verbatim the talking points her debate coaches had her memorize. The one thing I was struck by was how much she talked about nothing.

She was able to get by on the economic issues, which was the primary topic in the first half of the debate. But her economic talking points were about "energy independence", although I don't think it was helped by the fact that her only solution was drilling for more oil, and tax cuts. She also kept bringing up reform, but I think the voters don't really understand how "reform" translates to wallet issues. Last week's debate where McCain kept talking about earmarks wasn't exactly the attention getter for independents or any voter worried about the economy. She didn't mention health care, until it was raised by Biden, and here we have a great zinger by Biden knocking Palin about the "bridge to nowhere".
Biden: Now, with regard to the -- to the health care plan, you know, it's with one hand you giveth, the other you take it. You know how Barack Obama -- excuse me, do you know how John McCain pays for his $5,000 tax credit you're going to get, a family will get?

He taxes as income every one of you out there, every one of you listening who has a health care plan through your employer. That's how he raises $3.6 trillion, on your -- taxing your health care benefit to give you a $5,000 plan, which his Web site points out will go straight to the insurance company.

And then you're going to have to replace a $12,000 -- that's the average cost of the plan you get through your employer -- it costs $12,000. You're going to have to pay -- replace a $12,000 plan, because 20 million of you are going to be dropped. Twenty million of you will be dropped.

So you're going to have to place -- replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company. I call that the "Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere."

On Foreign Policy, it was clear that Biden was the clear winner. What was interesting was that in both the CNN and CBS reaction meters, the undecided voters reacted negatively to Palin's rhetoric on Iraq. Specifically, the graph on the right shows opinions on Palin tanking when she made her comment that a time table implied "white flag of defeat" by our soldiers.

Overall, she did not have an original point of view, and I have to admit her "folksy" tone started to grate - exactly how many "you betchas" and "doggone it" are we supposed to take? There was towards the end a moment where each Candidate got to say last words on their ticket. Palin tries to resurrect Ronald Reagan:
It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don't pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we're going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children's children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free.
I found that comment very odd, as I don't think any of us feel that we aren't free. So it seemed almost as if this old phrase was being mis-used.

Interestingly enough, the first sexist moment came from Palin when she implied that as a mom she could understand the concerns of average Americans, as if she had the cornerstone on that market.
Palin: Being a mom, one very concerned about a son in the war, about a special needs child, about kids heading off to college, how are we going to pay those tuition bills? About times and Todd and our marriage in our past where we didn't have health insurance and we know what other Americans are going through as they sit around the kitchen table and try to figure out how are they going to pay out-of-pocket for health care? We've been there also so that connection was important.
Joe countered with sharing his personal story, and there was a moment when you could tell that he was going to tear up, and the reaction on both the CNN and CBS meters went to the roof (see the video clip below). Palin, rather oddly, didn't show any empathy, but went right back to talking about how She and John McCain were "Mavericks".

Overall, she was probably able to save herself from any widely negative views, and probably helped to revive the republican base. But I don't think she helped John McCain any, and I think tomorrow's economic news will still be on voters minds.

If you missed the debate, you can read the transcript here:
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