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Thursday, October 02, 2008

(new thread)

10:30 PM Biden ends with a strong assertion of Barack Obama's readiness and then his usual closing about "God blessing out troops." And that's it. I'll be back in a few minutes with reactions.

10:29 PM Palin likes being able to answer these "tough questions." Oh, give me a break.

10:21 PM Palin talks about mavericks again. Sweet Caroline actually threw up on my floor. This looks *really* bad against Biden's answer about his kids and the kitchen table answer—this is the answer where she lost this debate.

10:20 PM Biden dodges the Achilles heel question too after a joke. Biden's breaking up a little bit talking about his kids.

10:18 PM Gov. Palin, what is your Achilles heel? Answer: "I am awesome." What?

10:17 PM: Bad news for Palin, Biden knows what the Constitution actually says about the vice president. Good news for Palin: No follow-ups.

10:17 PM: Biden thinks Cheney is a douche.

10:14 PM Palin is interpreting the Constitutional powers of the vice president. She claims to agree with Cheney, but she's just trying to talk her way out of this question.

10:13 PM Ezra's having the same problem I'm having:

10:03 Sarah-Palin-as-Tina-Fey-as-Sarah-Palin says "it's just so clear I'm a Washington outsider" then she tilts her head and smiles and shrugs and accuses Joe Biden of being "for it before being against it" and says "the American people are craving some of that straight talk." With Palin, we have left the age when satire ruled comedy and entered a period in which reenactment reigns supreme.
10:12 PM: Now Palin's talking about elementary school teaching? How the hell did we get here?

10:10 PM Her answer to the question of what she would do if John McCain died devolved to a repetition of her first answer on taxes and government-being-the-problem. That was weird. Now Palin drops a planned line: "Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again," but she flubs it, and the whole thing is just weird.

Why did Ifill ask a question about assassination?

10:09 PM Palin answers the assassination question with a smile. Jaimee says, "She can't wait."

10:08 PM Ifill drops the assassination bomb. Skirting the line there, Ifill. Kendra is visibly shaken.

10:06 PM Those little ums and pauses at the start of her answers are getting longer and longer.

10:04 PM Ambinder: 10:02: Palin gets the name of the commander general in Afghanistan wrong: he's McKiernan, not McClellan. She does not know who he is, clearly.

10:00 PM Interventionism. Palin calls Biden a flip-flopper. She is reading from a piece of paper.

9:58 PM Biden: "Facts matter, Gwen."

9:56 PM Palin's pretty obviously reading from her notes here. I hope somebody's getting clips of this. (Debate Hub is still the best application for this in the world.) (UPDATE: Here.)

9:55 PM Do you know what I like about best about Sarah Palin? The generalities. I can't believe there's 35 more minutes of this. At least Biden is killing on the "more of the same" line: "I don't know how his policy is going to be different from George Bush's."

9:54 PM Ezra Klein: "9:52: Like John McCain, Sarah Palin is firmly against a second Holocaust. The silence of the Obama/Biden ticket on this issue is deafening."

9:51 PM Biden drops the Spain-bomb.

9:50 PM There's a little bit of shouting at the TV in my house right now.

9:49 PM Dictators hate our freedoms. Check.

9:48 PM Palin calls Obama naive and dangerous, but unlike John McCain she can say "Ahmadinejad" on the first try.

9:45 PM Biden is doing really well on Pakistan and terror. Palin tells us to trust al Qaeda when it says that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. Trust al Qaeda? Really, Governor? That's not change we can believe in.

9:43 PM Biden: "John McCain voted against funding the troops." "John McCain and Dick Cheney said..." "John McCain has been dead wrong." Good answer, Joe.

9:42 PM Democrats want to wave the white flag of surrender in the face of "the Talibani."

9:41 PM Biden says what Obama should have said last week: John McCain is the only one who doesn't want to leave.

9:40 PM Here comes the surge. Palin tries to pit Biden against Barack by reading his own words to him. That's good note-carding.

9:38 PM Biden wins the gay marriage dispute, but only on points.

9:36 PM Biden keeps getting in the last word. That's good stuff. Next question: gay marriage. Biden just came out very strongly in favor of marriage equality, though he tries to dial it back a bit at the end of the sentence and begins to crouch it in Constitutional terms. Palin chooses to insist that she's tolerant and mentions that some of her best friends are gay.

9:32 PM Biden: "If you don't understand what the cause is, you can't come up with a solution." Right.

9:30 PM Drill, baby, drill. Here comes climate change. Palin doesn't want to argue about the causes—didn't Jon Stewart decimate this line last night?

9:29 PM Michael Crowley is on Palin note-watch.
The camera behind Palin's podium just caught her furiously (but discreetly) shuffling papers as Gwin Ifill was asking her question; and Palin took at least one glance down midway. Something to keep an eye on over the next 90 minutes.
9:26 PM Tim gets a gleam in his eye when she uses one of her catchphrases: "rears its head."

9:25 PM Biden is taking a "There you go again" tack. It seems to be working, at least where I'm sitting.

9:23 PM I just noticed her flag pin. I think it's Bejeweled. Meanwhile, Palin's off on energy. Then she admits that she's only been at this for five weeks—that was a weird line.

9:22 PM Marc Ambinder: I just got 5 fact-check e-mails from the Obama campaign...can't look at 'em all when they arrive at once.

9:19 PM Biden kills on it, uses his first punchline: "I call that the ultimate Bridge to Nowhere." But he really does need that eyelid lift.

9:18 PM $5,000 tax credit issue. Palin bungles it badly, Biden smells blood.

9:18 PM Biden loves the middle class. Kendra says he needs an eyelid lift, and you know, she's right. Palin is turning into Tina Fey before our eyes.

9:14 PM Things are blowing up already. Biden says she didn't answer the question, Palin says she'll answer the questions the way she wants. Biden's walking a fine line on the "don't be a bully" issue, but it looks like he's not interested in treating Palin with kid gloves.

9:13 PM Now we need to learn to live with less, says Palin. That's change we can believe in.

9:12 PM Palin drops another "darn right." Folksy!

9:12 PM Biden goes after McCain, deregulation, and the cost to blow up your gas tank.

9:10 PM The sub-prime lending meltdown. Who was at fault? Palin blames the predatory lenders. Now she's telling us not to live in debt. Interesting lecture from a millionaire.

9:08 PM Everyone in the room is enjoying Palin's winks. Sweet Caroline says, "I can't believe she's flirting with us."

9:05 PM That's it? They don't get to talk back and forth at all? That's ridiculous.

...okay, Biden doesn't want to let that be the rule. Good on him.

9:04 PM The bailout. So far Joe Biden has not said anything stupid, mission accomplished. Palin does okay too.

9:00 PM Here we go. Olbermann is comparing Biden-Palin to the Patriots-Giants last January. I thought this guy was supposed to be on our side.

8:36 PM My band is now fully assembled: I've got Tim, Kendra, and Sweet Caroline here on backup.

8:14 PM TPM Understatement of the Night: For the McCain camp to be conceding that the must-win battleground is comprised of red states, some of which Obama holds leads in, and that two states that haven't voted Dem in decades are now real battlegrounds, doesn't seem like a very strong position at all.

8:04 PM How crazy is America c. 2008 that shooting a man in the face isn't the worst thing Cheney has done?

8:02 PM Pre-spin watch: Palin to attack Biden?
Sarah Palin plans to go on the attack in tonight’s debate, hitting Joe Biden for what she will call his foreign policy blunders and penchant for adopting liberal positions on taxes and other issues, according to campaign officials involved in prepping her for tonight’s showdown.
7:57 PM Some might ask why I'm starting my VP debate liveblogging an hour before the debate actually begins. Because I forgot Missouri was in the central time zone I'm a maverick, that's why.

I'll repeat what I said the other morning:
I'm reserving judgment on the debate until I actually see it. It's very hard to say how the expectations game is going to work; traditionally, the candidate perceived as unimpressive benefits from asymmetric expectations and thereby "wins," and in that sense Palin can't lose. But I'm not sure there's ever been a candidate as manifestly unprepared as Sarah Palin—and basically any mistake she makes, even relatively trivial ones, will serve to ratify the Tina-Fey caricature that has achieved critical cultural mass. In that sense she can't win. So I have no idea what's going to happen.
I still have no idea what's going to happen. I think Biden will do fine—he's an old hand at this, and well-aware of the pitfalls. The sole question is whether Palin can fake it on substantive questions for several minutes at a clip, whether Ifill will let her get away with it, and whether Biden will be able to call her out on it without looking like a jerk.

It's a low bar, but seeing her on Couric, I'm genuinely not sure she can cross it. Here's hoping for an implosion.