Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Veep debate: it wasn't even close

I finally got round to watching the Vice-Presidential debate between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin, courtesy of More 4.

The comments I'd seen about the debate earlier on today (checks clock on computer, realises it's yesterday now) had led me to expect that while Biden had done better, Palin had at least performed creditably.

But that wasn't how I saw it. If that was a decent performance by Palin, I'd hate to see her on a bad day. Actually, that's wrong, I'd love to see her on a bad day. It would be the ultimate car crash TV.

Palin very rarely gave an answer to the question put to her, whether on healthcare, deregulation, nuclear weapons or the role of the vice-presidency. She relied almost totally on pre-prepared statements, which were sometimes only tangentially related to what was being discussed. And she didn't even read them well. If any actor read lines that badly, they'd soon find themselves doing far more waiting on tables than waiting to go on stage.

On just about every measure I can think of, Biden was better. To illustrate, I'm going to answer some fairly standard polling questions.

Who has the greater knowledge of the issues facing America? Biden.
Who has a greater understanding of the issues facing ordinary American families? Biden.
Who has the greatest experience needed to be Vice-President? Biden.
Who has the greatest experience to take over as President if necessary? Biden.
Which of the two candidates for Vice-President did a better job of setting out a vision for the future of the country? Biden.
Who has the greatest understanding of the economy? Biden.
Who has the greatest understanding of foreign policy? Biden.
Which of the two would you be most comfortable with as Commander-in-Chief? Biden.
Which of them did a better job of answering the questions in the debate? Biden.
Which of them did a better job of thinking on his/her feet during the debate? Biden.
Which of them did a better job of attacking the opposing Presidential candidate? Biden.

I could go on, but I won't. Biden was a clear winner of the debate and it wasn't even close.

It's just a shame that the Veep debates rarely if ever affect the outcome of the presidential race. But maybe this time it will be a bit different, given that Sarah Palin is so obviously unsuitable to be anywhere near the presidency, let alone a heartbeat away.


Bill said...

I watched the whole thing 'live' and have since linked to a YouTube video-clip of the full debate in my blog when writing about it.

My view, like your own, is that Biden 'won' the debate handily, although Palin did a lot better than many were forecasting. You and I may think she was completely awful, but we're not the people at whom her half-baked ideas are directed and who represent a sizeable part of the vote in US elections. It does seem to be looking better for Obama/Biden in the last couple of weeks (and the FiveThirtyEight blog had an interesting article yesterday about the level of activity of the two campaigns' campaign offices in key districts and States which seems very significant and hopeful), but it would be extremely dangerous for anyone to be complacent. I doubt if all the 'dirty politics' weapons have yet been fired.

Stephen B said...

Given Biden's multiple positions on issues, I think it's fair to say that he does probably have double, nay, treble the experience of most mortals by dint of these peregrinations.

But given his superhuman levels of experience, it does rather beg the question why he is Obama's junior and not the other way round?

Yousuf Hamid said...

I completely agree, with the president probably going to be focusing alot on the economy the VP will probably spend a lot of their team on foreign affairs, who would you prefer...

I think one problem however, is that expectations for Palin at the debate was so low that anything short of a total disaster would seem like a triumph

Bernard Salmon said...

Bill, agreed that Obama does seem to have an impressive field campaign.
Stephen, I guess Biden didn't have enough of a USP this time, compared with the choice of the first ethnic minority or first woman presidential candidate for the Democrats.

Ewan Watt said...

The most inmportant part of this debate was who came across as more "likeable" - a contest Palin won by an impressive margin (according to a CNN poll). Biden apparently won the debate, but he came across as too much of a politician - a pejorative these days.

It's worth recognising that debates in the US are far from the PMQ style debates we have. Lets be honest - is it really a debate in the true sense of the word? No.

It's about connecting with voters which Palin did a much better job of. Biden was really struggling with his folksy anecdotes. The diner he referred to actually closed down 15 years ago. He's not genuine, Palin is. That matters.

stuart w said...

Ewan, Palin may be genuine in some respects, but in others you can almost see the strings!

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