Tonight is the night. This is the most talked about debate in recent memory (we have Alzheimers, or some cousin of that dementia) – so it should be interesting. Everyone is looking for theater – It is almost as if no one expects substance – we are looking for the big gaff. The nice thing about Alzheimers is we won’t notice if Palin repeats herself.
Here at the Fireside it has become a tradition to report during the debate – we will follow that tradition tonight. The debate is being held at Washington University in St. Louis. That is just across the State from where this writer is sitting. We attended a violin solo in that University Hall about twenty years ago. The debate will probably be more interesting.
Something this writer is looking for – There is a Ross Perot attitude in the country right now – Damn the folks in Washington. Can Sarah Palin light that fire? We think that has been her appeal so far. If she can make her case that she is the “Ross Perot” candidate – but on a major ticket – then she will have stirred some emotional appeal with regular folks who are Bushed.
Check back – we will be adding to this post.
8:00 PM CST: Gwenn Ifill is the moderator, she is of the News Hour on PBS. She is giving the opening comments. Ms Ifill is welcoming the candidates. Here we go.
To Biden: On the bailout bill. Was this the best or worst of Washington.
Biden: “Neither the best or worst but it is evident of the worst economic policy we have ever had.” blah blah blah. Quiet Joe, “Barack Obamna laid out the best recovery plan…” That was a strategy – promote the top of the ticket. “We have fundamental difference in the two parties… ” good point.
Palin: “A good barometer, go to a kids soccer game, how are you feeling, I betcha you will hear some fear. Fear about college, about small business. The federal government has not provided sound oversight – two years ago it was John McCain who sounded the warning bell.” She scored the point.
How about being Vice President:
Biden: “My whole career has been about working in Washington in a bi-partisan manner to help make life better… Two weeks ago McCain the economy was sound….” Another point – discredit the opposition.
Palin: “John was talking to and about the American work force as being the best. What I have done as Governor and Mayor i shave a track record of reform… Barack Obama has voted along party lines.” She scored the point.
Question: Who was at fault for sub prime lending melt down?
Palin: It was the fault of creditor lenders, for talking people into deals they could not make, There was greed and corruption. We are going to stop that We need to ban together to stop this behavior. We must demand strict over site.. And not get ourselves into debt. ..” No great points here but she is presenting well.
Biden: “A few years ago Barrack warned about sub prime problem, McCain said he was surprised. McCain says he is always for cutting regulations… Overwhelming deregulation led to Wall street regulating itself…” Points scored, well presented.
Palin Response: “You are darn right we need tax decreases, Obama and Biden voted for biggest tax increases in history.” Making points on blaming opposition. Well presented.
Biden: “That is not true. Using those standards McCain has voted to raise taxes. The Governor did not respond to McCain deregulating.
Palin: “I am still on the tax thing. I am going to talk straight to the American People… Whether you or the moderator like it or not…”
Talk about taxes to Biden:
Biden: “Where I come from it is called fairness. The middle class is struggling. McCain proposes tax on 100,000 families. No one under $250,000 will receive tax increase under Obama.” Points for crediting running mate. “John wants to cut taxes for rich …” Points for slam on opponent.
Palin: “I take issue with principle. You are forgetting the millions of small businesses that fit into that category and will punish them. You said paying taxes was patriotic, that is not patriotic…” Good come back – sore a point.
Palin: “On McCain’s health care plan. He is proposing a 5,000 credit so people can purchase their own health care. The health care should not be taken over by the Feds. He wants to increase competition across state lines.”
Biden: “We don’t call this redistribution in my neighborhood. Giving tax breaks to Exxon. 95% of people make less than $250,000. Under McCain you will be taxed on your health care benefits to give you a $5,000 plan that will go to the insurance companies….” Gives more details – hammers McCain.
What are promises you cant keep as result of bailout
Biden: “We cant go forward with the tax proposals for corporate America and Exxon to reduce our revenues. We cannot slow up on education. We cant slow up on affordable health care.” Good detail, with hammer on McCain. Points scored.
Palin: “John McCain doesn’t say one thing to one group and one to another. Back to the energy plan, it was Obama’s energy plan that gave tax breaks to Big Oil. As Governor of Alaska I had to take on those Big Oil Companies.. We had to break up a monoply up there.” She is presenting well – scored points.
Biden: “Obama voted for an energy bill because it had provisions for alternative energy. Why is McCain adding to his budget 4 billion in tax cuts for big oil? John McCain will not support windfall profits taxes for Big Oil.” Good points.
What about bankruptcy?
Palin: “There needs to be more concern for over site on greed and corruption -” We dont think she answered the question. Lost points. She sure talks a lot…. She is still talking and not answering.
Biden: “Only ten percent of people who have been affected by chapter 13 are hurt. Barack Obama pointed out two years ago that there is a sub prime mortgage crises, McCain was surprised. ON the Bankruptcy court – they should be able to adjust interest rat and principle to keep people in their homes. …” He is well versed and sores points.
Palin: “That is not so, I want talk again about my record on energy versus the 05 bill. WE have to consider all that we can to make the country energy independent. Politicians should allow energy producing countries to produce…” She is not on the question – changing the subject – but she is good at it. No points from this old man.
Clilmate change – what is true and false about causes:
Palin: “Alaska feels the impact of climate change. I am not one to feel that man causes these problems – there are real changes. i don’t want to argue about the causes, I want to argue about what we are going to do.” Man – she is way off this writer’s base.. negative points.
Biden ” I think it is clearly man made. This is the biggest fundamental difference in the candidates. If you don’t understand the cause it is virtually impossible to find the solution….” Follows with details support – This wins this writers confidence.. Points scored.
Palin: “We hear the chant drill baby drill at rally’s across this country. We have the resources and are building a natural gas pipeline. You said no to finding a solution to domestic energy…” Man – she is off this writer’s radar.
Biden: “We call for setting hard targets on carbon emissions for clean coal… I have a 25 year record. How do we deal with carbon emissions if you only want oil…” Score points.
Same sex benefits to gay couples
Biden: “Absolutely I do, under the constitution same sex couples should have hospital visitation privileges and other rights… ” He lists the details.
Palin: “Not if it goes to the traditional definition of marriage. I am tollerant of all adults choosing their partners…” She contradicts herself – or is contradictory with her friends…. She is play to the conservative base – not a bid idea … give her a point.
Biden: “No, neither Obama or I support gay marriage… I take the Governor at her workd – there should not be civil rights differences.”
Iraq – you both have sons there: Exit Strategy
Palin: “I am thankful that the surge is part of the plan – pushed hard by McCain. Barack Obama has voted against funding the troops. Biden called him out on that…” Scoring points all the way around.
Biden: “Barack Obama has offered a third plan, shift the focus from Iraq to Afghanistan. The only odd man out is John McCain. McCain voted the same way as Obama. Barack Obama agreed on a time line. Spending ten billion dollars a month – it is time for Iraq to spend their own money.” Big points.
Palin: “Your plan is a white flag of surrender. … Obama cannot admit the surge worked. We will know we are done when Iraq can govern itself and our commanders will tell us… ” She is doing well – give her points.
Biden: “McCain voted to cut off funding for the troops. Because he said the amendment had a time line. Let’s get straight who has been right and wrong, McCain and Cheney said…. ” Biden gives a litany of wrongs and ties McCain to Cheney – big points.
Iran and Pakistan – which is greatest threat?
Biden: “They are both dangerous. Pakistan already has nuclear weapons. Iran getting Nuclear weapons would be devastating. Both are game changers. Hers is the problem with McCain – McCain says the central point of war is Iraq…” Biden is good at this stuff… Big Points.
Palin: “Both are extremely dangerous. It was Patreaus and Al Quaeda who defined Iraq as central war on terror. Nuclear Iran cannot be allowed. Israel is in jeopardy with Ohmydidhesayjihad in Iran. Other dangerous dictators are the one’s Barack Obama said he would meet with. That is down right dangerous.” She is hitting the highlights.
Secretary of states advocate engagement with enemies.
Palin” Kissinger has a passion for diplomacy. But these dictators who try to destroy our values should not be met with at the Presidential level. Barack Obama would endanger us…” She hit the high points.
Biden” “That is not true. It surprises me that Ohmydidhesyajihad does not control secruity aparatus in Iran. Our friends and allies have been saying sit down and talk, and five secretaries of state say the same thing. Bush finally sent a high ranking diplomat to talk to high ranking Iran diplomat. McCain said he would not sit down with Spain. ” Score points
Palin: “… ” We dont know what she is talking about – she is a master of generalities.
Biden: “No one has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. I would not have joined Obama’s ticket if he did not agree… ” Biden talks about Bush problems with middle east, noting his role and Obama’s role. We don’t know enough about the details to determine truth – but he makes points by giving credit for problems to Bush….
Palin: “No this administration has not had failed policies. When we talk abut the Bush Administration there is a time when we should stop pointing backwards. It we want to talk about the future we should quit pointing fingers…” She is fast at filling in the blanks.
Biden: “Past is prologue… How is McCain going to be different from Bush, on Iran, on Iraq, on Israel, on Pakistan… We have not heard… We will make significant change.” Points socred .
Nuclear weapon use – when:
Palin: “Use of Nuclear Weapons would be the end. So we can’t let Iran and North Korea get nuclear weapons. … On Afghanistan. The Bush administration is different than McCain. Obama said we would raid villages and kill civilians. ..” She is regurgitating – boring.
Biden: “Facts matter. The commanding general in Afghanistan saiid the surge principle used in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan. …..” He hit the point on the head…
How about Darfur and other intervention:
Biden: “American people have the stomach for success. The end result is foreign policy that works….” He gives a bunch of details to support his position. Scores points.
Palin: “I am a Washington outsider and I am not used to the way you guys operate. You vote for something and then against something. For before you were against. that stuff. … AS for Darfur, we can agree on that and the no-fly zone… ” She is jumping around – hard to follow the dohesiveness of her thoughts.
Is there a line to draw?
Biden: “We should absolutely draw lines before we engage with our military. McCAin said exactly what Dick Cheney said. …” Gives great support data to tie McCAin to Cheney – big points.
Palin: “When we listen to the debates we will hear that you prasied McCain and put down Obama… the pundits will sort this out tomorrow.”
Vice President cliche – heart beat away. How would you be different that the top of the ticket.
Biden: ” I would carry out Barack Obama’s policies ofr making sure the middle class are treated fairly … ” goes on with domestic policy and foreign policy. Mentions the Bush Doctrine – pretty clever – good points.
Palin: “Heaven forbid. What do you expect, we are mavericks. we are not going to agree on everything. We can make good policy. I would continue the good work McCain is committed to. We need a little reality from small towns….” She did this well. Scroe points. She is rambling now, losing us.
Biden: “All you got to do is go to Home Depot and ask if the economic or foreign policy has made them better off. and John McCain does not have one thing different….” Good point – socre a hit.
Palin: “Joe there you go again pointing backward to the Bush administration. You mentioned education…” She tried a zinger but it did not come off very well. She is looking for a “There you go again” moment from Reagan;s debate of 28 years ago – it did not work.
What is it you think the vice president do?
Palin: “It was a joke but nobody got it. Of course we know, preside over the senate, working with the presidents policies; and I would lead with energy independence and special needs children.” just OK.
Biden: “jhon McCAin has not funded anything she mentioned. Barack asked me to be the point person for legislative initiatives and a portfolio of responsibilites as an adviser to the President. I look forward to working with Barack.” Good points…
Do you believe Executive is not just Administrative.
Palin: “Founding fathers left flexibility in the constitution for Vice President duties. I agree with Cheney… ” whooeee, this might be the talk of the night…
Biden: “Cheney has been the most dangerous Vice President in the history of the U. S. He is a part of the Executive Branch…” Biden nailed this one — bigger points than Palin.
Achilles heel for each of you?
Palin: ” My experience will be put to good use as an executive and energy independence. Being a mom and being concerned about a son in the War….” She is going on but not answering the question. I think she missed this one – but it may go unnoticed.
Biden: “You were kind in only mentioning one weakness. ” Talks about his life as a single parent … He scores on this one….
Palin: “…. ” We don’t know what she is addressing… She is all over the place. Tossing around names. Blah blah…
Biden: “Lets talk about McCain being a Maverick. He has not been a maverick. He has voted with Bush on health care, taxes, education, on the war, or anything that people talk about around the kitchen table….” He is all over this – this is what he was waiting for..
Final question – a single issue that you were forced to change.
Biden: “I was of the view that the only thing that matters was if a Judicial candidate nominated by the President had a legal mind. but now I have had intellectual changes as I got a close look at it.”.. He did this pretty well.
Palin: “There have been time that we passed budgets that I did not agree with, like zero based budget, but I did not have the support. On principle there is nothing that I have had to change.. ” This writer does not know if this is good or bad.
There were no really big moments in the debate – except for Palin’s agreement with Cheney on the role of the Vice President. We will be hearing more about this… Each of the candidates hit their talking points – Palin presented herself very well, better than people expected. Biden was self controlled, polite, but made the points that were important to him. Palin did not light the “Ross Perot” Fire – but that was just my thought.
There were no major gaffs, not real theatrics – in this regard each of them accomplished their goal. Biden showed major self restraint. Biden had superiority on points. Palin had a few details wrong – but nothing major. Palin failed to answer some questions directly.
Palin represented middle America and did a service to her Party -but it is not a game changer.
Debate goes to Biden – on debate points and some on substance. Palin was successful at staying out of trouble..