Debate Reax

The bottom line take away from the VP debate last night is that knowledge matters, and that you just can’t cram for these things. Palin was able to speak in complete sentences and hit a certain number of buzz words to be sure, but Biden was ready at every turn and, like a good smashmouth football team, pulled away late by wearing out the competition. As the debate wore on, particularly into the final third, it became increasingly clear that, while Biden was as fresh as he was at the beginning of the night, Palin was running out of canned lines and memorized talking points. Biden also did a very good job letting her dig her own holes, whether constantly going back to “energy” as a dodge to most every question she couldn’t talk about in the first half of the debate, or cleverly cutting her lines off at the knees before she could unroll them in the 2nd half.

But probably the biggest effect the night could have, in any year, is the attacks that could be leveled at the top of the ticket(s), and in this regard Biden was the big winner. Long story short, Palin couldn’t make any attack stick throughout the night, and this is another example of why you can’t learn these things on the short. Palin was certainly well coached on her attack lines, but they were just that, lines. And because they weren’t even new lines, Biden was quite obviously ready for them when they came, and he rebutted them all as they came along. Whether on taxes, Iraq, Iran, healthcare, or whatever, Biden responded forcefully to her attacks, and she was left with no comeback other than to repeat them, saying in effect “nuh-uh!” On the other hand, Palin was apparently not well prepared to defend John McCain (maverick!), and Biden was able to have his way with the Republican nominee on issue after issue, most strikingly (I thought) on healthcare, where Biden gave one of the most succinct and complete attacks on McCain’s healthcare plan we’ve yet seen, and Palin didn’t even attempt a comeback, a fact that’s been summed up today in a new Obama ad.

As far as I know, McCain’s campaign hasn’t released a debate ad as of yet.