Strong opinions, weakly held

Vice Presidential debate reaction

Just a brief post to get in a few things I didn’t have time to type up during the debate last night. First, Sarah Palin prepared by memorizing a bunch of answers and reciting them back by rote. Anyone who’s ever debated will tell you that the key is having a command of the facts sufficient to craft arguments to challenge and refute your opponent. She wasn’t there. Because of that, she didn’t actually listen to the questions or answers, beyond the point necessary to figure out which memorized answer she was going to give.

From the transcript, here’s the best example (clipping some extra stuff). In the middle of an answer about whether Americans have the stomach for an interventionist foreign policy, Biden says:

With regard to Iraq, I indicated it would be a mistake to — I gave the president the power. I voted for the power because he said he needed it not to go to war but to keep the United States, the UN in line, to keep sanctions on Iraq and not let them be lifted.

And here’s Palin’s response:

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 and it was a war resolution.

Almost the entire debate was like this. No evidence whatsoever that she was engaging with Biden.

And just because it deserves to be reprinted, an answer from Palin that should scare every American:

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.

Guess which one of these candidates has read the Constitution:

PALIN: 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.

BIDEN: The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress.

There’s enough debate reaction everywhere else, so I’ll stop.


  1. I would be shocked if this swayed a single undecided voter toward McCain/Palin. That said, my biggest cringe moment (even including whenever Palin opened her mouth) was when Biden referred to himself in the third person. Ugh!

    I do think Biden left a number of openings that a more experienced debater could have attacked. I feel that Biden definitely picked and chose the times he attacked Palin and McCain so as not to appear a bully. Honestly though, he didn’t have to attack that much, just letting her answers fall on their own merit does plenty to help Obama.

    I’d definitely say that Biden won the debate and it wasn’t even close.

  2. The “Cheney Interpretation” of the Constitution is, one should point out, hardly Strict Constructionist.

  3. “That said, my biggest cringe moment … was when Biden referred to himself in the third person. Ugh!”

    Ryan agrees with you there.

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