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.