Friday, October 3, 2008

She's Back

The Palin-Biden Vice Presidential debate is in the history books. You can find the transcript here. My overall impression – Biden did well and did not hurt himself; Ifell did a reasonable job as moderator; Sarah Palin did very well. She had a grasp of most of the issues and got much stronger as the debate progressed. She was confident and she was Reaganesque in her ability to communicate with clarity and optimism. This was not the woman that I saw stumble with Katy Couric or assume the deer in the headlights position with Charlie Gibson.

Tonight was make it or break it for Gov. Palin. She made it. That said, her performance was not uniformly good. She was weak in response to the first few questions on the economy. She was strong in response to the foreign policy questions.

Some thoughts –

Biden - strong out of the gate, charging the last eight years with being the cause of today's economic crisis. Palin's answer to this was very poor. Like McCain last week, she wholly failed to rebut this charge.

Palin - her populism is fine, but the economic problem is much more systemic than simple greed and predatory lending. The subprime crisis is a systemic crisis created by Fannie Mae and CRA.

Biden - was telling tall tales indeed about Obama and the subprime crisis. While McCain, two years ago, was sponsoring legislation to reign in Fannie Mae, Obama was AWOL. He was at the bank cashing Fannie Mae campaign contribution checks. Palin just completely miffed the response to this.

Palin - missed the opportunity to talk about deregulation. Her answer should have been regulation is neutral. Over-regulate and you shrink the economy. Under-regulate and you bring the economy to the brink of crisis. That is the perfect lead in to the subprime crisis which McCain and Palin have to educate the public on if they are going to win.

Biden - his claim to have always supported clean coal technology is just ridiculous. He’s given several interviews were he has spoken against clean coal – during his presidential campaign and again as recently as two weeks ago.

Palin - her support for carbon emissions caps left me shivering.

Biden - nothing is more counterproductive than a windfall profits tax on oil. It would only further punish an energy sector and increase the cost of energy. That combined with Obama's embrace of high prices for gas would be a knife in the heart of our economy. Palin never supported a windfall profits tax in Alaska. That is a gross mischaracterization.

Palin - very strong in the Iraq argument, though she could have quoted Biden from 2005 when he was still saying that we had to win in Iraq because the cost of failure would be unimaginable.

Palin - she should have eaten Biden alive over his claim that McCain voted against funding the troops when he voted against a plan that would have legislated surrender. That was weak.

Palin - forgot the name of the leader of al Qaeda – though she didn’t get called on it.

Biden - pointed out that Ahmedinejad does not control the power in Iran. Palin did not know enough to respond that, while Supreme Guide Khamenei holds true power, his mouthpiece is Ahmedinejad. It would be naive bordering on ludicrous to believe that, in theocratic Iran, the policies of Ahmedinejad vary from those of the Supreme Guide.

Biden – Hezbollah has been driven out of Lebanon? To the contrary, they are a state within a state the likes of which Iran has been trying to establish in Iraq also. That was a potentially major gaffe, but Palin did not call him on it.

Palin – I am pretty sure that Palin got the name of the commander of the ISAF in Afghanistan wrong. Gen. McClellan hasn’t said anything about counterinsurgency since he was relieved of command by Lincoln. Gen. McKiernan, on the other hand, may well have said that the general principles of counterinsurgency strategy are applicable to Afghanistan.

Palin – allowed Biden to claim as a strength what he has done as the head of the Senate Judiciary committee. She really missed a perfect opportunity to discuss how its been Joe Biden, more than anyone else, who has turned judicial appointments into a partisan circus and to discuss Obama’s embrace of activist judges.

Biden – Article I of the Constitution pertains to the Executive Branch? Wow.

Best line of the night – Palin: “Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future.”

Dick Morris, in the video below, gave this as a hands down win for Sarah Palin, making the comparison to Reagan in her ability to communicate. Its also fun to watch as Morris goes for the throat of Alan Combes.

(H/T Stop the ACLU)

According to a Frank Lunz focus group of undecided voters, Palin was the clear winner – to the extent that Luntz said there should be a significant movement in the polls over the next 48 hours.

Over at TPM Central, they note that a CBS snap poll of 473 undecided voters gave Biden a clear victory. Obviously, one of these two findings is incorrect. Polls over the next few days will tell us.

Protein Wisdom has posted a McCain camp response noting 14 half-truths or untruths uttered by Joe Biden tonight

1. TAX VOTE: Biden said McCain voted “the exact same way” as Obama to increase taxes on Americans earning just $42,000, but McCain DID NOT VOTE THAT WAY.

2. AHMEDINIJAD MEETING: Joe Biden lied when he said that Barack Obama never said that he would sit down unconditionally with Mahmoud Ahmedinijad of Iran. Barack Obama did say specifically, and Joe Biden attacked him for it.

3. OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING: Biden said, “Drill we must.” But Biden has opposed offshore drilling and even compared offshore drilling to “raping” the Outer Continental Shelf.”

4. TROOP FUNDING: Joe Biden lied when he indicated that John McCain and Barack Obama voted the same way against funding the troops in the field. John McCain opposed a bill that included a timeline, that the President of the United States had already said he would veto regardless of it’s passage.

5. OPPOSING CLEAN COAL: Biden says he’s always been for clean coal, but he just told a voter that he is against clean coal and any new coal plants in America and has a record of voting against clean coal and coal in the U.S. Senate.

6. ALERNATIVE ENERGY VOTES: According to, Biden is exaggerating and overstating John McCain’s record voting for alternative energy when he says he voted against it 23 times.

7. HEALTH INSURANCE: Biden falsely said McCain will raise taxes on people’s health insurance coverage — they get a tax credit to offset any tax hike. Independent fact checkers have confirmed this attack is false

8. OIL TAXES: Biden falsely said Palin supported a windfall profits tax in Alaska — she reformed the state tax and revenue system, it’s not a windfall profits tax.

9. AFGHANISTAN / GEN. MCKIERNAN COMMENTS: Biden said that top military commander in Iraq said the principles of the surge could not be applied to Afghanistan, but the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force Gen. David D. McKiernan said that there were principles of the surge strategy, including working with tribes, that could be applied in Afghanistan.

10. REGULATION: Biden falsely said McCain weakened regulation — he actually called for more regulation on Fannie and Freddie.

11. IRAQ: When Joe Biden lied when he said that John McCain was “dead wrong on Iraq”, because Joe Biden shared the same vote to authorize the war and differed on the surge strategy where they John McCain has been proven right.

12. TAX INCREASES: Biden said Americans earning less than $250,000 wouldn’t see higher taxes, but the Obama-Biden tax plan would raise taxes on individuals making $200,000 or more.

13. BAILOUT: Biden said the economic rescue legislation matches the four principles that Obama laid out, but in reality it doesn’t meet two of the four principles that Obama outlined on Sept. 19, which were that it include an emergency economic stimulus package, and that it be part of “part of a globally coordinated effort with our partners in the G-20.”

14. REAGAN TAX RATES: Biden is wrong in saying that under Obama, Americans won’t pay any more in taxes then they did under Reagan.

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