Yes, a poop joke. Have I told you about my deep-seated faith in the power of beautiful language?
Anyway, I think my pre-debate prediction was largely on target. (The accuracy of your predictions is always good when you're the judge) Nothing extraordinary happened tonight. Sarah Palin didn't look like a complete amateur and Joe Biden didn't call Palin "sweetie," "babe," "dear" or "dame." So it was a success on all fronts.
That said, I don't give either of them positive reviews. Palin still rambled at times, and though avoiding any Couric-esque failures, she didn't exactly seem like someone with an iron grip on the intricacies of issues. Her answer on the role of the vice presidency was, frankly, rather frightening. She expressed her support for Dick Cheney's philosophy, and I found that troublesome. She also completely avoided the issue of providing benefits to gay couples, and moderator Gwen Ifill let her get away with a standard conservative bromide about keeping marriage as a union between man and woman. Simply as a reporter I was disappointed with Ifill in that exchange.
She quite skillfully played the persecuted, put-upon down home girl card. It annoyed me, but as she's said before, she doesn't care what people with journalism degrees think. It'll probably play well overall, and that's what matters.
Biden was, above all else, dull, and perhaps he erred a bit too much on the side of caution. With the exception of one reference to the "Bridge to Nowhere" he restricted his jabs to John McCain and largely left Palin alone. It was dull, as I said, but it was certainly the safe option. He didn't give the McCain camp any ammo for an attack ad or a vitriolic press release.
He stumbled a few times with his wording, mixing up a couple names and having to correct himself once or twice. He was frequently left in the difficult position of having to use his 90 seconds to respond to three or four different allegations, which diluted his overall point. Biden did have an excellent moment at the end of the debate when he discussed the tragedy that had befallen his family. He showed real emotion and pathos.
In a lot of ways Palin's responsibility was similar to Barack Obama's in last week's presidential debate. He had to convince people that he had the bare competence needed to run the country. She had to convince people that she had the bare competence needed to be one heartbeat away from running the country. I don't think she did as good a job in that as Obama did, but she cleared the bar set for her.