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

A good night for Obama

In my latest for the Guardian, I round up media commentary about the Palin-Biden debate — and argue that Barack Obama caught a break, as not even conservatives thought Sarah Palin did quite well enough to be declared the unambiguous victor.

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  1. Doug Shugarts

    I think Palin gave a performance that may have salvaged her political career. But I can’t see how she altered the trajectory of the McCain campaign.

  2. Ani

    The emperor is buck naked. By which I mean, Palin came across last night to me as at least ignorant, possibly stupid, and definitely manipulative in the way she uses her charm. If the consequences of not seeing through her weren’t so high, I wouldn’t care, but they are and I do. I am aware that I have my own lens through which I see things, but at least we could agree that Palin’s knowledge or ignorance is something that can be subjected to objective scrutiny and we could subject it to such scrutiny. Why can’t we just say that being a hockey mom, joe six pack, a soccer mom, etc. are not qualifications for being vice president (let alone president)?

  3. Bill Baar

    She closed with an offer for more debates.I suspect Biden will ignore that offer.That tells me who Biden thinks won the debate.

  4. Steve

    Bill – “That tells me who Biden thinks won the debate“.I can parse it either way:- Biden thinks he won, Obama’s ahead, so no need or desire for more debates.- Biden thinks he lost, which means McCain gained ground last night, so more debates would be bad.I think an appraisal of the post-debate polls would argue for the first. I suspect you meant the second.

  5. Dot Lane

    “She closed with an offer for more debates. I suspect Biden will ignore that offer.”Meeting with uninformed ideologically rigid people only serves to legitimize them, from what I hear, so I suppose Biden is operating on McCain’s principles of diplomacy. Besides, it’s easy to make an offer you know your campaign won’t let you keep.

  6. Suldog

    As a Libertarian, perhaps with a slight leaning towards conservatism more than liberalism, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of courtesy from both candidates. I came away with the feeling that both participants would probably be pleasant people to know personally.Having said that, there is little doubt that imagining Sarah Palin as a possible occupant of The Oval Office has its scary side. People have painted her as dumb, which she isn’t, by a longshot. However, she truly does not have enough grasp of (all) the issues. Those she knows, she’s fairly well-versed on. But she needs much more.I’m no friend of Biden. I haven’t forgotten how he plagiarized speeches years back, nor how he excoriated Obama in their debates, but seems to have conveniently forgotten that now. But, after last night, I have a great deal more respect for the man. He is eloquent, seems genuinely friendly, and he appears to know his stuff.My two cents? The win goes to Biden. Give Palin another few years of real-world experience, though, and seeing a rematch would be lots of fun.

  7. Peter Porcupine

    DK – you for got the most devastating conservative commentary of all, from my personal favorite columnist – Dr. Krauthammer, who in his ‘Hail, Mary pass’ column states that Obama will win because of his ‘first class intellect and first class temperment’.You need to read more widely.Think liberals SILL will want to push his wheelchair into the Tidal Basin, as I saw suggested on ‘Slate’ once?

  8. Bill Baar

    Steve, It’s Biden thinks he lost, which means McCain gained ground last night, so more debates would be bad,although the campaign will want you to think Biden thinks he won, Obama’s ahead, so no need or desire for more debates.What I really want though is a Palin v Obama match up. I had hoped McCain would have sent her to the first debate instead. I felt pretty confident about her despite the Couric stuff.I think she would really rattle Obama and he’s prone to saying goofy things with Women e.g. sweetie and and all that.

  9. Sean Roche

    Dan,Props for this line: “In other words, Hayes thinks she lost, but condescendingly assumes the rubes will come to a different conclusion.”But, what’s with this one? “Though Palin is receiving deservedly high marks for her folksy, feisty performance, the substance-free nature of her answers has not gone unnoticed by either the press or the public.” How can you think that she deserves high marks given the substance-free nature of her answers? Is performance that divorced from substance? Should it be?PP,While I like the outcome of Krauthammer’s column, he really butchered the football metaphor, no? Something about catching a ball in the end zone and then repeatedly fumbling it stick in my mind.

  10. Ani

    suldog,I am open to the idea that Palin is not “dumb,” but I didn’t notice any issue of which she showed real, thorough understanding last night. What issue(s) do you find her creditable on, that is, to know well enough to explain the concepts that underlie it accurately, or at least to talk about as if she did understand the underlying concepts?

  11. Steve

    Bill – can you cite any evidence to support your contention that McCain gained ground last night? I mean polling, not punditry.One poll of undecideds I saw had 19% deciding for Obama after last night; 10% deciding for McCain; 71% still undecided. That’s not “McCain gaining ground”, it’s the opposite.

  12. mike_b1

    Two thoughts on Palin. One, this is the best the Republicans can offer? Two, this is the best Alaska can get?I think I’ll move to Alaska, where you can run for governor and thus get paid for doing (and knowing) nothing.

  13. Suldog

    Ani:Taxation, and its relation to job creation, for one.I expect that I should have clarified my remarks. We sometimes judge whether someone has a “grasp” of a subject by our own prejudices concerning that subject. I found her remarks on some (taxation, as an example) to be cogent. Your mileage may vary.

  14. mike_b1

    bill baar, you are bringing up something that happened months ago and to my knowledge never happened again. Classic case of the press (and some others) getting lathered up about the outdated wallpaper when all the while the house is burning.

  15. O-FISH-L

    “Most Unintentionally Funny” post debate analysis award has to go to Mike Barnicle this morning on 96.9 FM. Barnicle actually had the gall to criticize Palin for using “recycled lines.” Pot? Kettle?The media’s most famous plagiarist declaring politics’ most famous plagiarist the winner of the debate, while condemning the non-plagiarist candidate as unoriginal. I had to grab the headboard to avoid falling out of bed!Only in America!

  16. Bill Baar

    Bill – can you cite any evidence to support your contention that McCain gained ground last night? I mean polling, not punditry.andbill baar, you are bringing up something that happened months ago and to my knowledge never happened again. I don’t know if McCain gained ground or not.I only know Palin looked like she was enjoying it, Palin said lets debate more, Biden didn’t look like he was having fun, and I suspect Biden will decline to do this again.That looks to me like Biden crying Uncle but I don’t profess to be scientific here. It’s just how I saw it.If Biden bites Palin’s bait, then maybe my view will change.

  17. Bill Baar

    PS…all I’m talking about is last night…..

  18. Ani

    suldog,Palin’s equation of tax cuts with job creation I thought was overly simplistic to the point of wrong. I thought tax cuts to people or companies who then have the wealth to start or expand a business and hire people creates jobs, not just the fact it’s a tax cut. If I receive a tax cut and put the money saved under my mattress, I don’t think I’m creating jobs, growing the economy, or anything else helpful to others. Similarly if I spend the money overseas. I am under the impression that it’s the circulation of money in certain ways that is the goal, not the initial gain of the money to the person or company who receives the credit. So who gets a tax credit and how it’s used I think does matter. So, no, I’m not impressed with tax cuts equal job creation.

  19. Suldog

    Ani:As I said, your mileage may vary.

  20. mike_b1

    More than half the US corporations paid no taxes the past five years. The idea that taxes are tied to jobs is a complete myth. Ask any C-level executive how many people they would hire if their corporate tax rate was halved and the answer would be the same: None. It’s a marketing ploy, nothing more.

  21. Peter Porcupine

    Suldog – Trust me. This isn’t a matter of agree or disagree. You are Wrong.You see, since they are in receipt of the Truth, any deviation is an alternative reality at best, and more probably delusional and/or deceitful. The irony is, when people who own and operate businesses tell them they are mistaken, they have no problem asserting in a field where they have no experience, and believe that W-2’s fly fom the sky like manna.

  22. Ani

    mike_b1,Well, okay, then I would say that Palin shows an incomplete understanding of the myth.

  23. mike_b1

    Palin could have learned better had she not done all her studying by candelight in an igloo while nursing her baby and trying to explain the concept of abstinence to her teenage daughter. It’s not her fault; she’s just poor. And dumb.

  24. Ani

    How do you think Palin would come across if her children weren’t part of her public persona, if we just took her as one individual making her way in the public sector? I think it would make more sense to evaluate her that way than to drag her kids into this.

  25. Suldog

    Thank you, Peter.

  26. Bill Baar

    Your missing the messages from both.Democrats tax the rich because they thing Government can use the revenues to invest in socially useful things.Republicans prefer to leave the money with the rich guessing Government makes bad investment choices.Convervative GOPers say get rid of semi Public FANNIE MAE etc making socially useful investments because they ultimately don’t work and invite lobbying and corruption.Democrats want to keep this kind of Public Investement and when it goes south advocate more regulations and monitoring instead.It really gets down to a question of how competent you think the Gov is to allocate Capital.Jobs will be created either way, but whether they’re going to be socially useful jobs that create wealth over the long run is the question.Those are the poles and while there is considerable agreement between the two, those are the poles that define these candidates.

  27. mike_b1

    Bill, I love this notion that “business” is so adept at efficiency and government isn’t. Why do you think that is true? The history of government is capital allocation. That’s what governments do.That you completely overstate the respective positions of Democrats and Republican when it comes to taxes and what to do with them is laughable. Again, federal law states that any time Treasury revenues are reduced by statute, they must be made up for elsewhere. And the federal government employs more than 1.8 million people (not including the Post Office). Can’t wait for the GOP legislator to stand up and say, “Hey, let’s put all those guys on the street!” He’d be the first — and the first to get voted out. If Republicans preferred to leave the money with the rich, how come they wrote and passed all the largest spending bills in world history?Remember, it’s rich people (aka Wall Street) who are asking for the bailout. It’s poor people who find all of this so infuriating.

  28. Bill Baar

    Bill, I love this notion that “business” is so adept at efficiency and government isn’t. Why do you think that is true? 32 years of having worked for it.Gov can do some things very very well, but it has a very hard time with Capital Budgeting. Way too many people get involved, too slow, and very poor choices.

  29. mike_b1

    It’s a government “for the people, by the people,” Bill. So I don’t know that slow equates bad in this case.I’ve worked in the private sector for 20 years and the budgeting on our side is typically, “Take what we spent last year and raise it 10%.” Which leads to all sorts of problems, too.

  30. Steve

    Well, the polls are in, and it looks like Biden was the clear winner. Here is the poll, which compiled data on various questions about the VP debate.The bottom line: among independents asked “Who won?”, the score was Biden 69%, Palin 31%.Pretty convincing, if you ask me.

  31. Dan Kennedy

    PP: I did read the Krauthammer column, but was looking for commentary specifically on the Biden-Palin debate. I don’t think you can say I’m not going deep on a day when I quoted from Power Line, for cryin’ out loud.Besides, I missed the signficance of Krauthammer until I re-read it this morning. His lede was in the last graf.

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