By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Live-blogging the Palin-Biden debate

10:37 p.m. I tend to be really bad at picking up on what most people think is important — not just the pundits, but ordinary people, too. So I’m fully prepared to see my instant reaction torn down tomorrow morning.

But I honestly don’t think Palin did anything other than stand there and say stuff for an hour and a half. “How long have I been at this? Five weeks?” she asked. Yeah. And with few exceptions, everything she said tonight was crammed into her head during that time.

Biden was authoritative, knowledgeable and spoke in clear, complete sentences. He was able to point out discrepancies in Palin’s statements. And when he nearly broke down in talking about his family, he humanized himself in a way he hadn’t managed to do up to that time.

That’s all for tonight. I’ll be wrapping up media commentary tomorrow morning for the Guardian.

10:29 p.m. They’re wrapping up.

10:24 p.m. If I’d been playing a drinking game based on the word “maverick,” I’d be passed out on the floor right now.

10:21 p.m. Oh, my God. I don’t want to cheapen genuine emotion. But Biden nearly broke down talking about his family — and given his story, that’s all we’re going to be talking about tomorrow. Say good night, Sarah.

10:20 p.m. Biden gets the question, but other than being self-deprecating, he doesn’t answer, either.

10:18 p.m. Ifill: What is your real Achilles’ heel? Palin responds by talking about how wonderful she is. In Palin’s defense, Ifill’s question was a little hard to scan.

10:11 p.m. Biden: “The people in my neighborhood get it.” Here’s his neighborhood.

10:09 p.m. Live-blogging now being powered by an alternative energy source — Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale. Surprisingly undistinguished. Oh, no wonder. Coors makes it.

10:02 p.m. Did Biden just call Bosnians “Bosniacs”? [Post-debate update: Bosniacs, or Bosniaks, are Bosnian Muslims. Biden knew what he was talking about.]

9:55 p.m. Biden debates the Palinbot. Random, Palin-like phrases come tumbling out of her mouth in response to every question.

9:51 p.m. Biden’s doing a good job of pointing out that McCain is now well to the right of Bush.

9:49 p.m. By saying Ahmadinejad is “not sane or stable,” Palin shows that she fundamentally misunderstands the real issues. Just because he’s dangerous doesn’t mean he’s crazy.

9:44 p.m. Northeastern journalism student Candice Springer is live-blogging the debate.

9:42 p.m. Palin’s doing a pretty good job of driving a wedge between Biden and Obama on Iraq. Biden’s comeback: Bush and the Iraqi government take our position; McCain’s the only one who doesn’t.

9:39 p.m. Palin says she’s “tolerant” of adults “choosing their partners.” Does she know what she’s saying? She probably does. Biden: Obama and I oppose same-sex marriage, too.

9:35 p.m. AP reports: “The two debated for 90 minutes with little more than one month remaining in the campaign and McCain struggling to regain his footing.” A little premature? Thanks, Mike B1.

9:33 p.m. Ifill asks Palin about “climate change.” Obviously biased!

9:30 p.m. Biden’s flashing some serious signs of cockiness when Palin’s talking. Careful, Joe — disaster ahead?

9:27 p.m. Biden: Obama and I support a windfall-profits tax on oil companies. So did Palin in Alaska. Maybe she can talk McCain into joining us.

9:25 p.m. Palin: “How long have I been at this? Five weeks?”

9:23 p.m. Wow. Palin’s taking a pass on Biden’s health-care attack, which was pretty effective: McCain wants to tax your employer-provided medical insurance. And Palin’s got nothing to say? I think I know why: It’s Gwen Ifill’s fault.

9:21 p.m. Biden calls McCain’s health-care plan “the ultimate bridge to nowhere.” Pretty good line.

9:19 p.m. Good grief. Palin just accused Obama of wanting to “mandate” health care. Didn’t Hillary beat him up for not wanting to mandate health care? (Answer: Yes.)

9:15 p.m. Palin repeats the lie that Obama wants to raise taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000. PolitiFact: False.

9:13 p.m. Biden’s looking right at Palin. I suppose he would anyway, but he’s making sure he doesn’t repeat McCain’s mistake with Obama.

9:11 p.m. Biden is flat and boring tonight. Is it deliberate? I’ll bet it is.

9:09 p.m. Biden lets Palin get away with the fiction that McCain “suspended” his campaign. What did he suspend?

9:02 p.m. Audio and video are out of sync on C-SPAN. Palin: “Mind if I call you Joe?”

I wasn’t going to, but oh, why not? If you’re interested in my almost-real-time ruminations, please tune in around 9 p.m. And if you’re not, I understand.

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  1. liamstliam

    First, you have to name a Supreme Court case you disagree with.

  2. mike_b1

    Did Palin really just wink at me?I feel dirty.

  3. mike_b1

    Palin just called for strict regulation of the markets. Quick, someone remind her she’s conservative.

  4. bostonph

    Depends: Are you “joe six pack”?

  5. mike_b1

    Both of them are speaking directly to the camera more than Obama and Old Man McCain did.

  6. mike_b1

    bostonph: Not anymore. Now I’m more like Joe 30-pack.

  7. mike_b1

    Biden’s right, though he doesn’t want to say why: By statute, if Treasury’s revenues are reduced via a law, they must be raised elsewhere to compensate for the loss.

  8. mike_b1

    Refresh my memory: How much revenue did the “governor of an energy producing state” share with the lower 48? Oh, right: None.

  9. mike_b1

    Gwen has lost all control over the debate. The candidates are recitingabout whatever talking points they can remember, damn the question.

  10. mike_b1

    AP recap goes live a little early (check out the second-to-last graf):

  11. mike_b1

    I’m pretty sure I saw Tracy Flick say much the same things in “Election.”

  12. mike_b1

    Did Tracy Flick really just say Al Queda termed the center of the war on terrorism is Iraq?

  13. mike_b1

    Isn’t Petraus now running things in Afghanistan? Just saying…

  14. Eric Baumann

    yes mike, i most definitely just heard several nuke-u-lar’s come bumbling out of her mouth…wow.

  15. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: She’s live-blogging, for God’s sake. She’s a terrific young journalist. (Sorry for the cryptic message, folks.)

  16. Eric Baumann

    if i hear “maverick” come out of her mouth one more time…

  17. mike_b1

    Palin’s running out the clock. How, praytell, does she “rid Wall Street of corruption and greed” while getting “government out of the way?”

  18. Eric Baumann

    stick to the good old fashioned belgian white dan, the pumpkin is a gimmic 😉

  19. mike_b1

    So are you, Dan. It’s not a tough one.

  20. Aaron Read

    Jeez, Dan. Coors?!? That’s a new low you’re sinking to. If you’re going to drink swill, at least drink “local” swill. Although I’ll grant you, I think the only way I’m going to get through this election is by drinking heavily. Maybe developing a drug problem, too.Ugh.

  21. mike_b1

    Tracy Flick — a mother of a special needs child who is two months old and who she will never know what it’s like to raise if she’s elected VP.

  22. mike_b1

    Tracy’s Flick’s world view: I’ve never seen the world, but I’d like to bomb it.

  23. Peter Porcupine

    DK – Biden left Scranton for good when he was 10 yrs old.

  24. acf

    Dan: Pour that Coors bilgewash out. Watching you try and liveblog this debate reminds me of an old ‘I Love Lucy’ episode where Lucy and Ethel are working in a candy factory trying to wrap chocolates coming down the assembly line. At first they keep right up, then when they start to fall behind, they start eating them and stuffing them in their pockets, and finally, when they’ve lost it completely, chaos breaks out. As the debate wears on, responding to it is like wrapping those chocolates. It gets more and more difficult, and you get more and more tired…or affected by the pumpkin beer. Dump that Coors swill out. Seriously, I enjoyed this blog more than the last one. The next two will be even better.

  25. Eric Baumann

    i think she’s got another “maverick” in her somewhere, just wait for it…

  26. Dan Kennedy

    My brew of choice is Ipswich Ale, IPA in the summer and regular the rest of the year. I had no idea Coors made Harvest Moon. I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise.

  27. mike_b1

    Flick: “I would choose anyone, a Democrat or Independent or Republican, just as long as they are a member of my family.”

  28. Eric Baumann

    Go for Blue Moon Belgian White next time if you already haven't. I don't care what any of you guys have to say, Coors or not, that is a surprisingly good beer and has been a favorite of mine for awhile. Saranac, Long Trail, Magic Hat <– my fridge 😉

  29. mike_b1

    TRacy Flick appreciates the chance to speak to American without “a filter.” Wonder if she’s ever heard of that thing they call “an ad.”

  30. Aaron Read

    People are saying how nice it is the two families are on-stage together. I noticed that Bristol Palin and her “fiance” are nowhere to be seen…hmmm…BTW, Palin’s idea of “tolerance” is not disowning her sinful daughter for having premarital sex.

  31. Al Toid

    Thanks for live blogging, Dan. I really think that Sen. Biden really came into his own in the last half of that debate when his mastery of foreign affairs resonated.

  32. Steve

    I think we need a Dan post about beer. I don’t think there’s any way an IPA guy will go for Belgian. (My son’s a Heffweisen fan, I can’t stand the stuff, but I likes me my IPA.)I prefer Ipswitch stout, but Harpoon IPA.

  33. Mike F

    I thought the first debate favored McCain, but then polling had Obama faring better. I could certainly see where there was room for interpretation in that case.There is no room for interpretation here. There is no way that this could be deemed anything but a pathetic performance by someone who has no business being in this race. I would have felt embarrassed for her if there wasn’t still a chance that she could be Vice President.I thought Biden was passable early on, but it looked like he might be fumbling away an easy victory (I don’t know if Palin’s confused stammering was an airborne contagion, but it seemed to hit Biden in the early going, and Iffil too.) As the debate wore on though, Biden hit his stride with power. It was like when a boxer realizes that it’s no rope-a-dope, but that his opponent is in real trouble, and he can let his defenses down and just start throwing haymakers.I came in thinking that the expectations were so low, Palin had a reasonable chance of doing well. I overestimated her ability. In fact, as they hit the homestretch I found myself wondering how the McCain campaign hadn’t found some way out of this debate.I’m not going to pretend I don’t want Obama to win, but this is beyond that. The idea that she could get anywhere near the presidency is frightening.

  34. O'Rion

    I tuned out at 10:15, unable to take anymore. This was shamefully cynical. ” I’m not going to answer questions the way you want?” And nobodies going to make you Sarah! Palin can now go back to avoiding interviews and doing RW talk radio. I feel sorry for McCain. The crew he has running the campaign did him a terrible disservice. He's not only going to lose but after this fiasco his reputation is gone as well. He can go off into the sunset with #$%%*&@ Lieberman.

  35. Dot Lane

    “Mind if I call you Joe?”I thought that was strange, until she attempted to land one of pre-fab colloquialisms by blurting “Say it isn’t so, Joe!”I’m not even going to say what I thought about this debate. It’s pointless. I mean, “America is a nation of exceptionalism”? I will say that people like Palin attributing the shining city on a hill quote to Reagan makes me ill. Reagan ripped off John Winthrop, stealing the poetry of Winthrop’s Model of Christian Charity while believing none of its sentiments. How did Winthrop propose New England would succeed? He said “Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck [the failure of the colony], and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”

  36. Tunder

    Hmmm… No one ranting about that awful, liberal, Obama jock-holder Gwen Ifill. Her Obama bias absolutely ruined poor Sarah’s chances.Anyone? Anyone? o-fish??

  37. Pink Ink

    If I hear Biden say, “Back in my old neighborhood…” one more time…My two cents:Sarah Palin looked fresh and ALIVE.Biden looked like a worn-out suit.When Sarah spoke, she connected with the middle-class Mom in me.When Biden spoke, he made me think of a teacher who’d collar you in the hallway for sluffing.Sarah’s closing comments brought a lump to my throat.Biden’s closing comments sounded uncertain.I think I will not be alone when I say Sarah Palin impressed me that night. Even Biden, looking dazed after the debate, seemed impressed, too.Star Power, Barbie-ness, great shot at being VP, whatever it is…that woman has got the IT factor.

  38. Peter Porcupine

    DK (and Tunder) – Can we say it now? Can we SAY that Gwen Ifill did a terrible job as moderator?Lehrer got BIG points with me for herding the cats – making the candidate(s) answer what he asked, doing tireless followup when they expected to skate away.Ifill asked weird, Barbara-Walters-esque quesions, like tree preference. ‘What is your biggest flaw’ would have been better than Achilles Heel, for the simple reason that the former implies a level of self-knowledge, while the latter implies you are aware of where your opponents can ‘gotcha!’, no fault of your own, of course. MOST of here questions were open to misinterpretation, and her follow up to clarify her Sphinx-like riddles were just as bad.But as I said at the outset, DK, she WAS entiely professional – her ineptness was non-partisan.And before you ask/pile on, I don’t really blame Palin for announcing that she was just going to get her message out, rather than answer Ifill. It was her only chance, as there are no more VP debates, and Biden did much the same thing while being shrewd enough not to announce it.BTW – I ALWAYS choose the rogue nation WITH the nuclear arms as the more dangerous – how about you?

  39. b1llp

    I for one was very disappointed in Gwen Ifill. She did a horrible job at keeping either candidate on issue. After letting them both slide on the first question, she did note that neither had answered it but did nothing else all night to press the point. Once Palin saw the opening to avoid the issues, she just ran with it. I’m not sure if Ifill was holing back on bringing Palin into line out of feat of being labeled biased or whether this interview/moderator role is just not her forte but her inability to follow-up and keep both candidates on topic took away from the debate for me.

  40. Dan Kennedy

    PP: Gwen Ifill did not do a great job as moderator. Jim Lehrer was surprisingly good last week — I’ve had some real issues with his handling of past debates, especially Gore-Bush.You haven’t mentioned this for a while, but I think this is something we agree on: bring back the League of Women Voters.

  41. Michael Pahre

    Your pick of a VP beer is deeply troubling.It is now clear that you failed to fully vet the Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale, or else you would have realized in advance that it is a product of Coors. Just the simplest journalistic research, like reading the label, would have told you that information prior to making your selection.You would have realized that many of the properties of your selection actually contradict your own fundamental values. Like microbrew vs. massive brewer. Like added flavors vs. Rheinheitsgebot.I find it likely that you were forced into this VP beer choice — which was probably way down your shortlist — because your real first choice (Duvel, not Ipswich Ale!) would’ve been too costly with your supporters (i.e., who is in charge of your checkbook).In picking a pumpkin ale, it’s obvious you were going for sugar, spice, and all that’s nice — instead of true substance in a VP beer.I am sure that all the internet vetters will now find out lots of new information about your VP beer that you didn’t realize before you made your purchase — like that it is made by an off-shore Belgian company as a subsidiary to avoid paying US taxes.Don’t try to fool us into thinking that you are a maverick by your VP beer selection or that you are really for change in beer. Instead, it shows your lack of careful deliberation when making decisions.By making your VP beer choice, you have distracted from the real issues at hand here. It’s led to a wild MediaNation blog commenter firestorm dissecting your beer selection, rather than focusing on your issues.I suggest you choose a better strategy between now and election day: keep your VP beer selection out of the public eye; squash dissent by waging war on the blog commenters questioning your VP beer choice; post provocatively and daily to your blog in order to grab the 24-hour MediaNation news cycle and thus distract from your VP beer selection; parade your VP beer selection out with a few media leaders using 29-second photo ops (don’t forget the funnels!); and so on.People will no doubt daily be calling for you to jettison your VP beer choice. Don’t listen to them! Show your stubbornness and stick with your selection. Tell people how your VP beer choice is better qualified to be a microbrew than the competition because its got a microbrew label (“Blue Moon”) slapped onto it.

  42. Dot Lane

    “Star Power, Barbie-ness, great shot at being VP, whatever it is…that woman has got the IT factor.”As in: “What the hell is IT she is actually trying to say?” If Palin represents the best Star Power the GOP can muster, that’s great, but if we’re classifying her as a star, she’s a dim brown dwarf. Her performance last night is beyond critique, since she didn’t really participate in the debate, choosing instead to directly address the American people, and no one has ever gone broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

  43. mike_b1

    Let’s get real about something: Whatever these are, they aren’t debates. A debate involves bringing up an issue and arguing the pros and cons. There was none of that line of questioning.What is your biggest flaw/Achilles Heel isn’t a debate question. Hell, it’s not even a decent job interview question. The way Ifill stammered on made me believe she didn’t bother to do her homework before showing up in St. Louis.

  44. jhall

    Dan, you just ruined my love of Blue Moon. I had no idea Coors made it. Damn. Not a fan of the pumpkin version, either.

  45. Patrick Roberts

    the VP debate was stunning. Palin did a decent job faking about 20% of the questions and didn’t even bother answering the other 80% i couldn’t help thinking of the end of the movie Billy Madison, when the Principal says to Adam Sandler, “Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

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