It would be easy to look at Gwen Ifill's performance and suggest that the right-wing attacks over her objectivity got to her. She didn't do many, if any follow-up questions, preferring instead to simply lob questions out there and let the debaters do what they wanted to. There was no real attempt at controlling either Senator Biden or Governor Palin. Except that I don't remember her doing much differently when she's moderated debates in the past. Ifill seemed to be most interested in staying out of the way to the greatest extent possible. She had opportunities to pop both candidates and didn't. It made for a slightly less entertaining debate than we might have had otherwise.
Governor Palin was certainly better prepared for this debate than she was for her interview with Katie Couric, though that's a pretty low bar to clear. It's not even a bar, really--it's more like a groove that's been cut into the concrete. The subject she boned up on most? Snark 101. That's great if you're a blogger--not so much if you're a VP candidate.
Palin's pushback against the media was clear from the beginning. She was obviously taking a swipe at Katie Couric when she went on about being able to speak directly to people without the media filter--the McCain campaign said earlier in the day that CBS had left good moments from the interview on the cutting room floor. I doubt that very much--they were the ones who got burned by the bullshit attacks against Dan Rather, after all. I hope CBS releases the raw footage.
One moment of defense for the governor. The immediate reaction I saw online to her remark to Joe Biden that his wife's reward is in heaven was that it was a classless comment, given that Biden's first wife was killed in a car accident. Palin was referring to Biden's current wife, who is a school teacher, and Palin was playing off the idea that teachers don't make a lot of money, so instead of storing up treasures on earth, she's storing them up in heaven.
In the end, both candidates did what they needed to do. Joe Biden got out of the debate without having committed a major gaffe or looking patronizing toward Sarah Palin, and Palin didn't fall flat on her face. Two completely different goals, both successfully reached. Biden was clearly the more impressive of the two candidates--he tended to come closer to answering the questions asked of him, and he knew what an Achilles heel was, as opposed to Palin who apparently thought it was a reason to list her (limited) accomplishments as Alaska's governor. I'd say her Achilles heel is the occasional inability to understand the questions that are put to her, which makes her perfect for the Republican ticket, and the early frontrunner for the 2012 nomination.
Here's the Random Ten--no more of that Genius crap. Put the iTunes on Party Shuffle and post the next ten songs that pop up. No hiding your secret love for The Outfield. Just use that love, toniiiiiight! Here we go.
1. Flash Gordon--Talib KweliSpeaking of Ralph Stanley, TPM reports that he has cut a radio ad for Barack Obama that's playing in southern Virginia. If you're unfamiliar with Stanley's work, he's probably best known to wider audiences as the voice of the song "O Death" from O Brother, Where Art Thou! Stanley is a little outside the demographic that the press would imagine for a typical Obama supporter.
2. Neil Jung--Teenage Fanclub
3. We Are the Ones--The Coup
4. Send Your Mind--Van Morrison
5. More More More--Andrea True Connection
6. Heavy Metal Drummer--Wilco
7. No Sir--Big Smith
8. Gin Rummy--Nellie McKay
9. Jane Says--Jane's Addiction
10. Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine--Ralph Stanley and Friends