Billed as the most anticipated V.P. debate in the history of the United States, I don't think last night's debate quite measured up to the "Thrilla in Manila" status it was given.
Joe Biden had been muzzled by the Obama campaign to make sure that he didn't gaffe all over himself; and, to make sure he didn't put everyone to sleep with his typical over explanation of issues. So, in essence, Biden seemed subdued in contrast to his past debate performances. He was on his best behavior to make sure that he didn't seem condescending or overbearing against his female opponent.
Sarah Palin, on the other hand, was allowed to be "the" Sarah Palin of lore and "the" Sarah we saw at the Republican Convention in St. Paul. She was no longer the "mind freaked" and over-handled person that showed up at the Couric interview. She talked to America in her "Dakota" style of down-home dialect and, I think, made America comfortable with her confidence and intelligence. I also think she clearly disarmed those who had expressed concerns about her being "only a heartbeat" away from the Presidency. That's important because, if you listen to the left-wing ads and media, John McCain, with his previous bout of skin cancer, is teetering near death.
Post debate, I think Sarah Palin got applause for her style. Even from "some" liberals. I also think she showed a broad range of knowledge on a variety of issues. However, it was obvious from the remarks made by left-wing commentators that they felt that she didn't demonstrate the "depth of knowledge" of their candidate, Joe Biden. But, to me, Biden's "depth" of knowledge was more like "pull up your pants" kind of B.S. depth. If you fact-checked Mr. Biden's depth-of-knowledge answers, you would have easily found that he, at the very least, was factually incorrect on a dozen or more of his responses. He also played fast and loose with facts to try and make McCain look bad. For example, he referenced a Senate bill for "armor to protect the troops" that McCain voted against. What Biden neglected to tell you is that, buried within that bill, was an attachment that would immediately withdraw our troops from Iraq. Since there is no "line item" voting in the Senate, McCain was literally forced to vote against the "armor" bill because, to do so, would have been a vote for our defeat in Iraq. What's worse, the timing of that withdrawal would have been in the very midst of the surge. A surge that we all know, now, was a brilliant success. (Just one of the many attempts by the Democrats to have us fail in Iraq!)
Additionally, some of Biden's answers could be construed as being in conflict with Obama's positions. However, in Biden's defense, that is because Barack Obama has been "flipping" on those very issues. For example, Biden said that he and Obama were against gay marriage. While Obama has clearly stated that he is for civil unions, when it was important for him to garner the independent vote, he is clearly on record in stating his opposition to the pending voter initiative that would "ban" the currently approved gay marriage activity in California. One gaffe that Biden gave the world last night was to call the people of Bosnia by the name Bosniacs. All I could think of when he said that was: "What do you call a Bosnian when you cross him with a maniac?"
Certainly, Sarah Palin wasn't without her own moments. She avoided some answers by changing the subject. For example, she failed to rebut Biden's claim that McCain was against the governmental regulation that could have prevented the current economic crisis; even though McCain tried to regulate Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in the Senate bill he authored in 2005. She could have easily defended this by saying it was governmental meddling (by regulation) that "forced" the credit industry to give subprime loans to those low income applicants who weren't qualified to have them. Meddling that the Democrats were at fault for by pushing the limits of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 and the meddling was exacerbated by the Clinton Administration in 1995 and 1999.
She also gaffed by calling one of our top Generals in Afghanistan by the wrong name. She called him McClellan when his real name is McKiernan. But, she had the facts right, over Biden's typical distortions, about what McKiernan had actually said about an "Iraq style" surge working in Afghanistan. She also stumbled on the question about the V.P. position having responsibilities that are both in the realm of the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch of our government. However, her answer was closer to the truth than Biden's attempt to use that question to attack Dick Cheney. Sarah also slipped by calling Joe Biden by the name of Obiden.
I suppose, like the Obama/McCain debate, liberals will claim victory for Biden and the conservatives for Palin. Personally, a poor Palin performance could have easily spelled an end to the McCain campaign. However, Palin's performance put a floor back under his campaign. I think she may have stopped the bleeding that was a result of questions about her competency. Now, McCain's challenge is to shake this economic crisis that appears to be hurting his poll numbers.