Thursday, October 02, 2008

Semi-live-blogging the vice presidential debate!
Because such is my civic duty

8:47: Gwen Ifill limps onto stage, and the audience cheers like she's an injured football player leaving the field under her own power. Nice, I guess, but a little weird.

8:50: The C-SPAN voiceover woman explains the debate format, and notes that each candidate will get a two-minute closing statement. Completely scripted, completely planned ahead of time. What are the odds Palin screws it up?

8:55: This audience is exceptionally good at practicing being quiet. So is Ifill. (And the C-SPAN voiceover woman, for that matter.)

8:57: God, remember when Dan Quayle's ticket actually won, despite his inability to spell? That's a sobering thought.

9:01: Ifill's a-talkin'! (With an echo, too!)

9:02: No "untoward outbursts," you unruly jerks.

9:03: Palin: "Hey, can I call you 'Joe'?" Oughtn't he to have said no, just to fluster her?

9:04: Less than a minute into his first answer, Biden is explaining Obama's plan for the economy. Well done, "Joe."

9:06: Palin's first answer contained no gaffes. This makes me sad.

9:08: The "fundamental" of our economy. Palin's first goof, and it was an utterly boring one.

9:08: They're a team of mavericks!

9:10: She really is quite good at this, which is depressing.

9:11: Biden's coming off as a little too calm, I think. Say something interesting, Joe!

9:12: Let's all laugh at Joey Danko for being poor!

9:13: "Government's gonna have to learn to be more efficient." Perhaps we can fire the employees of the National Gallery of Art?

9:14: Biden was in the Senate during the whole Keating Five business, right? Maybe that'll get a mention tonight (since Obama's been strangely reticent about it so far).

9:15: "I may not answer the questions in the way either [Biden] or the moderator want to hear." Everyone else heard that, right?

9:16: Remember that scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when the Bulgarian veela morphed from beautiful women into scary, mean-faced fire-throwers?

9:17: In the middle class, paying higher taxes is not patriotic.

9:18: And yes, "healthcare being taken over by the Feds" is my worst nightmare.

9:19: "You know how Barack Oba- excuse me, you know how John McCain..." – Nice, Joe.

9:20: Ha, "the ultimate Bridge to Nowhere."

9:22: What the hell was that? "Characterized. Characteris...? Characterized."

9:2: Palin just bragged about how McCain wouldn't say one thing to one group and then turn around and say something else to another group. John McCain. True story.

9:24: Palin's area of expertise is energy.

9:25: Joe's lookin' awfully strong on the windfall profits tax.

9:27: "We have John McCain to thank for bringing people to the table." John McCain. True story.

9:29: We have domestic supplies of energy all over this great land! Damn you, you East-Coast politicians! Why won't you let us tap into them?

9:30: Ha! Biden was all set to respond to something when Ifill rather abruptly moved onto to next topic, and I swear it looked like she'd just shot his dog.

9:31: Palin doesn't want to argue about the causes of climate change. Which is good, because neither do climate scientists.

9:33: "Investing in clean coal technology"? What the hell, Biden? If you're forced to respond to a question about it, fine, but don't bring it up yourself.

9:34: People are so hungry for those miniscule oil reserves to be tapped into!

9:35: Hey-oh! "Nucular," sayeth the energy expert.

9:36: Ifill just cut off Biden for the second time in the last five minutes.

9:38: Sarah Palin would be "tolerant" of adults "choosing their own relationships." [Ahem.] How admirable!

9:39: The little sigh that Biden gave when Ifill brought up the fact that both candidates have children in Iraq was possibly the most real thing I've ever seen from him.

9:40: What's the deal with "eye-rack"? Do you think she really doesn't understand how to pronounce it, or is it more of a folksy, "I'm not gonna learn their terrorist language" kind of thing?

9:44: Palin just all but called Barack Obama a coward.

9:45: "Ih-rack," for the record, doesn't bother me nearly as much as "eye-rack." But why not go all the way and pronounce it correctly?

9:47: "Nucular Eye-ran!" Jesus H. Christ. (And yet she can pronounce Ahmadinejad. Go figure.)

9:48: Henry Kissinger shared with Palin "his passion for diplomacy." I think I read that on the Onion.

9:50: Biden seems to have made a definite decision to refer to John McCain as "John," rather than "Senator McCain." Interesting.

9:51: "John" recently said that he "wouldn't even sit down with the government of Spain." Awesome inflection.

9:52: "Building our embassy in Jerusalem"? What the hell?

9:53: "No one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Lieberman Biden," says Joe Lieberman Biden.

9:59: Three weeks in Iraq :: seven years in Afghanistan. That's a nice comparison, and I hope we see more of it.

10:00: Holy crap, she knew the name of your fancy "top general in Afghanistan"! Didn't see that coming, did you, "Joe"? Now, granted, his name is actually McKiernan, and she thinks his name is McClelland. But she's pretty impressed with herself for coming so close!

10:03: Palin "doesn't understand" the concept of changing one's mind. This is hardly surprising.

10:06: John McCain "knows how to win a war." Er... right.

10:07: "How would a Biden administration be different from an Obama administration?" That's a pretty nifty question, Gwen.

10:09: And as smarmy as she is, Palin did a really good job with that one. (Despite the fact that "Wasilla Main Street" is probably an unfathomably depressing place.)

10:10: Ha, Biden spends a lot of time in Home Depot. (In his defense: those big aisles can be confusing.)

10:11: Doggone it!

10:11: Jill Biden's "reward is in heaven"? Is that, like, a threat?

10:12: We need to ramp up how much money those schools are deserving.

10:12: I hate to admit it, but the "extra credit" line was genuinely funny.

10:13: Christ, another funny, right in a row. She's closing awfully strong.

10:17: Wait, did Biden really just say that Article I defines the role of the vice president? [Update: No, I misunderstood his point. Biden got it right.]

10:18: As governor of a "huge state"?

10:20: Biden thinks his Achilles' heel is his "excessive passion"?

10:21: Biden, getting choked up about his son: assuming that was sincere (and I think it was), I'd say that's the second most real thing I've ever seen from him.

10:22: Lieberman, Giuliani, Romney, and Lingle? A) Who the heck is Lingle? And B) who cares what those other three losers think?

10:23: Yeah, Joe! Way to save the "he's not a maverick" attack for the late innings. That was clutch.

10:25: I liked Biden's answer on judicial philosophy, but I'm interested to see if he takes heat for being a bit too in-the-weeds there.

10:27: Jesse Helms: a raging racist, and a terrible person, but he adopted a child with a disability, so you have to feel like a jerk for disliking him.

10:29: Palin hates the "filter" of the mainstream media. Like when Katie Couric asks a question, and then uses CBS's patented Dimmer™ filter to make Palin's answers appear to be semi-literate.

10:32: Nice close from Biden.

10:33: Does Palin just shout all the time? Or did they leave her microphone on? Because you could kind of hear Biden during the Meet-the-Parentses, but she was clear as a bell.

So, if we're starting from Square One, I think Biden won the thing pretty solidly. But we're very much not starting from Square One, and Palin –- after the interview debacles of the last several weeks -– really didn't have to do much beyond not drool on herself. And drool she did not. So I don't really know what to say. Please, American people: see through the embarrassingly low standards.

[Update: the immediate reaction that I've seen (on ABC and MSNBC), even from the right, has been surprisingly pro-Biden. I am reminded of the fact that I worried Obama had lost last week's debate, too -- and look how that one turned out. So let's hope I'm wrong about this one, too.]


kevin said...

Joey Danko is my father....we are not poor he is a firefighter, Gas prices are like 3.50 a gallon, I have a brother in med school and another brother in college, with all of our other bills...just like every other American family you got to prioritize.

Fuck you, have a nice day.

Kevin Danko - son of Joey Danko.

Mike said...

Tough to tell whether or not you're joking, but on the off-chance that you're serious, let me be clear: I was joking. I certainly understood Biden's point ("gas is so expensive that random Joes [random Joeys] sometimes have trouble filling their tanks; also, I am not out-of-touch!"), I just thought it was a little mean-spirited to call out one of his constituents by name (in a way that made it a bit too easy to make the leap from "gas is expensive" to "Joey Danko is poor").

I have absolutely no idea whether or not "Joey Danko" exists; if he does exist, I have absolutely no idea whether or not he is "poor"; and if he is poor -- using whatever definition of that word you want -- Christ knows I wouldn't make fun of the guy for it. Rather, my point was to demonstrate my uneasiness with the "[Name of Random Person]" campaign construction -- "I just came from a meeting with Tom Wilson of Great Falls, who lost his health insurance when the steel mill where he worked closed on four days' notice." It's always made me uncomfortable, and the fact that it's almost invariably done with permission (as I assume it was in this case) does relatively little to reassure me. Your comment -- even if it is completely fictional -- is a pretty good illustration of why: the downside (the potential for hurt feelings, when, say, Joey Danko's children feel like they're being put down) far outweighs the upside ("Hey, look at me, I'm not out-of-touch; I know my constituents' names!").

All of that being said: if you really did take offense, then I apologize. Offense was certainly not my intention.