This Week To Come: The Vice Presidential Debate and Why it is Important

September 28, 2008

Politics played center stage in the United States on Friday night, once again occupying the front page of press outlets everywhere, and hitting hard in the blogosphere. But in plain words: we won’t see anything until we see the Vice Presidential debate. 

And this is essentially because of Barack Obama and John McCain. After a debate of their own that was close enough to produce mixed feelings along the left and right press, both senators have simply set the grand stage up for the rest of their respective tickets. 

But what I really am yearning to see is Sarah Palin. 

Because for the first time, I believe that she is under pressure. Since her “blindside the press” entrance into the national stage, I have been fascinated by her stardom that has caused a wildfire inside the media. But most prominently, I have been in awe of her difficulty to     interview. 

And this raises a great point that has gone unnoticed — Sarah Palin’s vice presidential debate could very easily end in a complete disaster for the Republican party, mostly because no one knows what to expect from her, including me. Why? She has avoided the press, only occurring in three formal interviews, which is a sharp contrast to her debate opponent: Joe Biden has appeared in nearly one hundred.

But what I do know is that what we have seen from her rare appearances is that she is not very good at thinking on her feet. There is no disputing from either party that (I’m not about to get partisan) that she has fumbled in all of her interviews, sticking with her proven false points. But there are two very large differences from an MSM interview and a debate — one being that it is for much higher stakes. 

The other, (which as a democrat I must admit I am happy about) is the fact that she is debating Joe Biden. What I mean by this is that Biden is essentially the worst person she could dream to face — someone who (unlike Obama), will ruthlessly exploit her lies and attack with “brutally honest remarks” (CNN). And this is not just because he has this type of political strategy, but he can afford to. 

Why? I believe that if Joe Biden successfully makes Sarah Palin look like a mayor again on national television, the McCain camp’s “cheater” and “darkhorse” cries will be overshadowed by Palin’s backlash. 

And if he doesn’t succeed? I think that Biden will at least be able to recognize that his tactic is not working as he might have wanted, and go back to the subject where he can win — politics. 


18 Responses to “This Week To Come: The Vice Presidential Debate and Why it is Important”

  1. kayinmaine Says:

    Thank you for your analysis. It will be an interesting debate if it happens. Many are not too sure it will, but if it does, I hope Palin isn’t going to be one of those “feminists” who cry, “That man is mean!” and then points to Joe Biden. That would be embarrassing. 😉

  2. 01varvara Says:

    Sarah Palin is an ignoramus… full stop.

    She knows little of the world outside of Wassilla, and her infantile remarks on foreign affairs reveals a reckless and bull-headed personality that makes George Bush look like a temporiser.

    I speak as a rather conservative sort (I think that being of White Guard Russian descent and a confessing Russian Orthodox Christian fits that bill). Sarah Palin is a radical populist, make no mistake of it. In addition, the fact that she is a Pentecostalist means that she is from the Radical left-wing of Protestantism. Conservative… I think not!

    She is most dangerous figure to arise in American politics. She is a Huey Long without the brains or political wits. In short, a laughing-stock.

    Why have we come to this?


    “Voices from Russia”

  3. wilsonknut Says:

    Yes, it will be interesting. I’ve been wondering if the strategy has been to keep her quiet and act dumb in order to blindside Biden. If so, it’s genius, and she has certainly pulled it off. Her interviews have been borderline ridiculous, but you have to admit, the media is not Palin-friendly at all.

    Democrats also have to look out for Biden getting off script. Remember it was Biden who was accused of being racially insensitive. He also said that Hillary would have been a better VP pick. If Palin can get him to say something controversial (sexist preferably), it will not matter how she performs in the debate.

  4. pacer521 Says:


    I think that it is likely that someone in the GOP will complain if Biden goes hard-nosed at her, but as I said, in the end it will be hard to overshadow Palin’s flaws.
    thanks for the comment!

  5. pacer521 Says:


    it seems we don’t like Palin, but there is really no disputing that she is conservative.

  6. pacer521 Says:


    I guess it will be interesting. Strategy is huge in the VP debate, you are totally right. The media isn’t Palin friendly, mostly because they are a bit partisan.

    Biden can get off topic and has had a history of gaffes, but I don’t think he can really mess up that much. I don’t think he’ll mutter something sexist, but I agree that would be political suicide…

    thanks for the comment!


  7. 01varvara Says:

    Sorry, “pacer”, Sarah Palin is no conservative. She is not a fiscal conservative, for instance. She is not a religious conservative, she is from the most radical-left wing of Protestantism. Her Radical Populism is not conservatism in way shape or form.

    I doubt that she is familiar with the writings of Hayek, Burke, or even Bill Buckley! She is right-wing, to be sure, but, conservative… dear God, please, spare me!

    I speak as a dyed in the wool conservative, and she is entirely foreign to considered conservative thought. Not all who are opposed to liberals or the left in general are “conservative”. It sounds like you are using “conservative” as a catch-all label for everything you dislike. That would be as specious as me calling everyone I dislike a “liberal”. It is deeper than that, and I believe that you capable of seeing that (no bite intended, this format is devilishly easy to be misunderstood in!).

    with regards and good will,
    “a conservative through and through” (Sarah the Rambunctious is not one, let me assure you!)

  8. jj Says:

    Biden needs to ignore her idiotic jabs..She loves to jab. Her Kick, I guess.

    He needs to act like he doesn’t hear them.

  9. pacer521 Says:


    If you want to get politically technical, Palin is not the conservative style that is popular today. A true conservative style has not been popular and it is very subjective, but this is really missing the point. I think we should be focusing on what she is saying, because that is scaring us enough. But if you insist to talk about her beliefs, I must admit I am no expert, but I can assure you she is not left.

    far from it

  10. rjjrdq Says:

    It sounds like you are all making the assumption that the electorate is intelligent and well informed. You-can’t count on that…Biden knows he can’t talk over the average Joe’s head, and that’s an advantage for Palin.

    By average Joe, I mean someone who doesn’t spend alot of time following politics and/or current events. And man oh man there are plenty of them…

  11. pacer521 Says:


    I never attempted to make that assumption, but I agree with you. I think that Biden knows this, but I still think that Sarah Palin must perform EXTREMELY well with no flaws, “lifelines” or gaffes. And this, for her seems like it is hard to do.

    But I do agree with you. There are quite a lot of average Joe’s out there.

  12. 57andFemale Says:

    She’s decent enough as a debater when she knows her subject matter. I heard a rumor that the questions have been “pre-circulated”. If she gets the questions ahead of time, she’ll do fine. She’ll be able to parrot back the talking points by rote and sound reasonably respectable.

    If the questions have been “pre-circulated”, that makes the debate illegitimate and we need to say so.

    That being said, will she pass a threshold that McCain himself set for competence to be president? Of course not. If Obama isn’t good enough for McCain, no way Palin is good enough for the country. However the polls will tighten a little. The 30% loonies who still think we just haven’t found the WMD’s in the trailers, will be perfectly happy with her.

    She’ll be nasty, too. The handlers need to find where she’s comfortable, and that’s where she’s comfortable and the McCain camp is comfortable. She’ll assume Biden won’t come after her because it will be “patronizing”, so some other word she’ll parrot that she doesn’t know the meaning of. I’m assuming Biden is prepared to disarm that attack and make it clear that it serves her best if America holds her to the highest standard. Put that way, America’s comfortable with being uncomfortable with her, and she has no answer.

    I do expect a decent performance. I expect the right wing to gush. I expect most Americans to prefer Joe Biden being a heartbeat away from the Presidency than Sarah Palin.

  13. Alvin K Says:

    Palin will not only exceed expectations but demonstrate suprisingly fluidity and ease, as well as an ability to speak extemporaneously on a range of subjects. She will demonstrate the broadness of vision and nuance of understanding necessary in anyone hoping to occupy the highest office in the land.

    Of course, if she doesn’t do that, she’s a total failure.

  14. pacer521 Says:


    Although I party agree with what you are saying, there is really no proof that she is a decent debater with pre-circulated topics.

    In my humble opinion, the reason that the debate will be a test for Palin will be because she can’t be nasty. We know she can be nasty, but that’s just campaign to campaign attack ads and press statements. We haven’t seen he debate.

    You can expect what you want to expect, and that’s fine with me. I just think that she will be forced to do something she hasn’t done before thursday night, and we’ll see if I am right.

  15. pacer521 Says:

    Alvin K,

    I can’t believe this is coming out of my mouth (or my fingers), but you are spot on. Minus the word “will.” We’ll have to see if she can do that, but if she does, then she’ll be fine. I doubt that she can find a way to pull that off, however. That is why I wrote this post.

  16. huxbux Says:

    Pailin is at such a disadvantage in public perception prior to the debate, that negative predisposition will undoubtedly carry over to opinion polls and political bloggers. She is, as they say, in a lose-lose situation.

    Her one exterior virtue would be, given her low expectations going into the debate, she would be hard pressed to disappoint.

    I almost want to say that her best shot at winning the debate, in terms of public opinion, would be to fully press Biden on details during the debate. He’s been known to be a windbag at times and getting him to enter into a long, labored criticism of policy minutia. It might net her a perception victory.

    But I’m in agreement with pacer on this one. Biden was choosen as VP, in part, to be an attack dog for Obama. And I expect him to do just that come Thursday.

  17. pacer521 Says:


    I agree with you, especially about the attack dog mentality. That is really what I was shooting for. thanks for the comment.

  18. Zedmont Says:

    the debates tend to be about slamming the other side, rather than discussing policy in depth. Everyone knows how easy it is to seque away from a debate question to attack the opponent.

    Even if she attacks Obama for the wrong thing, it is still an attack, and the underlying question may go unnoticed in the sound bites. Of course, this depends on a moderator who will not force her to answer the fricking questions.

    Biden should attack McCain mercilessly and put her on the defensive. She will probably be able to answer the initial attack, but if Biden parries her blow, I think she has a problem.

    But, it’s only a problem winning debate points. This will not be about winning debate points, it will be about sound bites.

    Which is why debates in the 21st century are merely pseudo-reality shows and beauty contests. Lincoln-Douglas they are not.

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