Thursday, October 02, 2008

Vice Presidential Debate Reaction

I feel that my predication was right on the money. Palin started forcefully, but slowed as the issues caught up with her memorized talking points. Biden was sincere and authentic at his best, and thoughtless at his worst. She did herself a world of good, and most importantly re-energized the dispirited Conservative base, but she didn't do it as effectively as she did in the convention speech. This won't have the same lasting effect.

Post convention polls state that it was an emphatic victory for Biden, but, I think that's yet to be seen. However, while Palin was charming, I think pundits are mistaking that for the type of resonance and informed caring people are looking for. Her tone was just off for me. Overall I think Biden edged it. For reasons I described below, that is actually a big victory for Obama as this is one less game-changing opportunity left on the schedule for the McCain campaign.

The best analogy I can think of to describe Palin is a rookie boxer with naturally good technique and a couple of hard hitting punches. But, as they say in boxing, she is chinny. She is extremely vulnerable to a knockout blow, even when she appears in full control. Where Bush could ride with his mistakes and misstatements as if they were irrelevant (quite masterfully looking back) Palin by comparison is completely exposed. Unlike some of the pundits on cable news tonight I do not think the narrative has been transformed about Palin being unqualified for the Presidency. As John McCain would say "There will be more gaffes, I'm sorry to say. There will be more gaffes." Those gaffes will continue to haunt McCain's ability to control the national conversation.

Finally, Obama had the best possible candidate on his ticket for tonight (and maybe tonight only) because his authenticity negated an area where Palin could have destroyed an overly political Kerry, Hillary, Gore, or Bayh (who I supported as V.P.) with her "realness." Independent and undecided voters in the country tonight will be talking as much about their positive feelings for Joe Biden as they will be about Palin's charm.

Before, the debate I said Obama was essentially up 2 touchdowns approaching the end of the third quarter. I'd say tonight we're heading into the final quarter with McCain/Palin, at best, having to settle for a field goal with their previous possession. The main task of the Obama campaign tonight is to do whatever it takes to disrupt the national conversation being dominated tomorrow by the fact that Palin exceeded expectations. Although, it is quite possible House Republicans will do him a favor on this by voting against the bailout plan again. If the bill fails again, Obama scores, and we head into Tuesday's debate with McCain clearly incapable of leading his own party, let alone the country. Maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part, but we will see.