Setting up shop to liveblog tonight; thanks to Newsworld replaying the Canadian leader’s debate later tonight, it’s going to be the American VP debate at 9 PM and then the Canadian federal debate when Newsworld replays it.
Probably important to note in advance that Sarah Palin is not going to set her podium on fire or do anything remarkably stupid; the form of the debate allows her to do what she does well, which is relentlessly attack Biden and Obama in scripted manner and ignore any question she can’t answer by talking about something else instead. (This was, of course, not accidental.) Regardless of what happens, Palin’s expectations are so low that if she manages to speak in complete sentences it will be portrayed as a massive victory. My personal hope is that Biden ignores the attacks and simply concentrates on being a grown-up who can offer intelligent solutions for problems America faces.
8:59: Campbell Brown explains that most people are stupid and will be more inclined to vote for Sarah Palin if she comes across as nice rather than competent. Well, that’s honest, at least.
9:00: Your moderator: Gwen Ifill, who is, I understand, completely in the tank for Barack Obama and who hates all white women everywhere.
9:00: Tonight the lines are for uncommited male and female Ohio voters! Ohio! The state that always matters far more than it really should!
9:01: “Nice to meet you! Hi! Can I call you Joe?” And it’s Perky Sarah out of the gate!
9:02: First question: the bailout. The lines like Biden! The lady lines like him more than the men lines, but the men lines seem to like him fine. Biden says he and Obama will focus on the middle class.
9:05: Palin starts out talking folksy about soccer and the lines just DROP to neutral so fast it is scary. They rebound a bit when she starts talking about sound oversight, then she obliquely says Biden is stupid for not listening to McCain about reform. Lines drop again when she starts talking about McCain suspending his campaign. That shit ain’t fooling nobody, lady.
9:07: Biden wants to respond to Palin on McCain’s economic brilliance, and goes with the “fundementals of our economy” line. Palin responds with the “he was talking about American workers” bullshit response – the lines like it but only a bit. Early trend about Palin is that her lines tend to drop the longer she talks. She hasn’t dropped into negative numbers yet.
9:09: “Maverick” count: 1.
9:09: “Who’s fault is the subprime meltdown?” Palin wisely blames predator lenders. Biden looks terribly pissed off when she talks about how she and McCain will clean up Wall Street, mostly because OH MY GOD THE BULLSHIT.
9:10: “Hockey mom” count: 1. But her message of personal responsibility rings strongly! People like personal responsibility in Ohio!
9:12: Biden: McCain wants to deregulate everything and that’s no good. Palin: taxes! Democrats love taxes! Lines not very convinced by this. Government must be more efficient! Everybody likes efficiency! Then she spouts the “tax increase on families worth $42K less” line, which is bullshit. Biden calls her on it and points out that McCain voted exactly the same way, then points out that by Palin’s standard McCain voted to raise taxes eleventy billion times and Palin didn’t answer about deregulation at all. Biden is grinning like an evil shark person.
9:14: Palin: “I may not answer the questions the way you want me to…” IE, “at all.” Biden looks at Gwen Ifill. Palin looks at her notes.
9:15: Ifill: hey, McCain wants to tax employer health benefits. What do you think about that? Biden points out that the middle class has had a bad time of it lately with taxes and talks about the Obama tax plan, of which the lines greatly approve, then points out McCain wants corporate tax cuts. Palin’s smile is WEIRD. Then Biden mentions Reagan, because men in Ohio get hard when you say “Reagan.”
9:17: Palin claims that she and her family are “middle class.” She has to be prompted to even mention the health care plan because she is busy lying about taxes. My god, this woman lies slickly when she gets a chance to prepare. Attacks socialized healthcare and the lines are NOT impressed. Talks about the health care credit, because five thousand dollars helps a lot when you have cancer!
9:20: Biden: John McCain wants to tax your health benefits and give money to insurance companies. This is undeniably true, which unfortunately does not wake up the lines, because it is difficult to understand, this “paying of taxes” and “costing of money.”
9:21: If things get tough, what disappears from your plan: Biden: foreign assistance (good call, Biden – Americans hate helping foreigners. Sorry, people, but it’s true), corporate tax cuts. Women OFF THE CHART with the lines for Biden. Then, Biden says he and Obama will look in the government’s cushions for spare change to make up the difference, and finishes by attacking overseas tax shelters.
9:22: Palin says McCain doesn’t flip-flop depending on who he talks to. This is true. McCain flip-flops regardless of who he talks to. Palin says how she “took on” the oil companies in Alaska, presumably with a shotgun and a bear trap. Palin is playing it so folksy it is like she is trying out for a remake of The Beverly Hillbillies.
9:24: Palin claims her area of expertise is energy. Oh, please, Biden. Destroy her. Destroy her and make her your own.
9:25: Biden points out that the windfall tax Palin instituted in Alaska is part of Obama’s economic plan and something John McCain opposes. OH SNAP.
9:26: Bankruptcy bill. Palin would have supported it. LINES NOT HAPPY ABOUT THAT. Odds Biden mentions that he voted for it: very poor. Palin’s answer is… blather. Oh my god, is she coming apart already? SHE IS. Sarah Palin Podium On Fire Equivalent: .3 podiums.
9:27: Gwen Ifill, in the tank for Obama, points out that Biden voted for the extremely unpopular bankruptcy bill. Biden umms and ahhs and then says Obama is awesome and knew about the subprime meltdown way in advance, and says that bankruptcy courts need to be better for the people and stuff. Bad answer, but eh.
9:29: Sarah Palin wants to talk more about energy (lines NOT happy) and says that we need to drill – excuse me, “exploit domestic energy sources”, then attacks “east coast politicians.” Tupac, up in the sky, waves his forty-ouncer for her.
9:30: Gwen Ifill wants to ask about climate change, and asks Palin “what is true” about climate change. Palin equivocates and admits that there are changes, and doesn’t want to argue about the causes. Oh my god she is falling apart again, just tripping over words. How did this woman get elected to anything? Jesus Christ. She has said “we gotta become energy independent” like fifteen times now, then attacks foreign countries for polluting, and then claims that she is for conservation.
9:32: Biden: “It is manmade, you dumb cunt.” No, not really, but wouldn’t that be great? Says “we’re the cause,” then points out that McCain doesn’t vote for alternative energy like, ever, and then says “clean coal and nuclear power” because he needed to make me irritated, then attacks China for burning dirty coal, which is not like the sparkling, gleaming coal you find in America. Finishes up with saying that drilling won’t produce oil for ten years.
9:34: Sarah Palin says “drill baby drill” because she is a dumbass. Then complains that drilling is great and why don’t Obama and Biden want to drill more? Man-lines LOVE drilling! Women, not so much.
9:36: Biden points out that drilling for oil doesn’t do shit about global warming. FINALLY.
9:36: Biden is unequivocally for same-sex marriage benefits. And the lines are SUPPORTIVE, because he does it right: he talks about basic fairness. HA HA EAT THAT YOU CULTURE WAR FUCKERS.
9:38: Palin says she’s against gay marriage (basically) and then points out that just because she doesn’t want gay couples to get married doesn’t mean she’s intolerant! YES IT DOES, YOU STUPID BITCH. (My god, I am hardpressed to think of the last woman I loathed quite as much as Sarah Palin.)
9:39: Men, surprisingly, much more for same-sex marriage benefits.
9:40: Gwen Ifill asks about a pullout strategy in Iraq. Palin talks about the surge, which is, you know, the exact opposite thing. Blathers about Obama voting against funding the troops, which is bullshit. The lines are just generally not enthusiastic about any of this particularly. Lumps together the Shia extremists and Al-Qaeda, because she is an idiot.
9:41: Biden: “All due respect, but I didn’t hear a plan.” SNAP
9:42: Biden promises to end the war. Lines VERY VERY HAPPY.
9:43: Palin accuses Biden and Obama of being surrenderers. Lines BELOW THE MIDDLE. And mostly staying there. My god, women really really do not like Sarah Palin. At least not in Ohio.
9:44: OH GOD SARAH PALIN SO ANNOYING SHE IS MAKING ME WANT TO TURN GAY no no I like the ladies BUT SHE IS A LADY OH THE COGNITIVE DISSONANCE pretend she is a pre-op tranny maybe that will help
9:45: Biden: “I love McCain, but he is a fucking idiot, only suitable to be kept behind a stairwell and hidden from polite company.”
9:45: Iran or Pakistan? CHOOSE ONE! Biden says Pakistan, because they already have nukes, whereas Iran does not yet have nukes. Iran getting a nuke would be bad, but Pakistan already has them! Lines firmly on his side. Then says again that McCain is wrong about Iraq. Lines like him even more.
9:47: “Which is worse, Palin?” She picks both, then says “hey, Iraq is pretty bad you know!” Then, in an ironic moment, she accuses Ahmadnejad of being dangerously unstable. HEY LADY LOOK WHO YOU’RE RUNNING WITH. Then accuses Obama of being dangerously naive, unlike a woman who believes dinosaurs lived with cavemen.
9:49: Dictators HATE America! They hate tolerance! And respect for women’s rights! Like the right to choose! Um! Pretend she didn’t mention that bit! Anyway, Obama is willing to talk with them! And that’s bad!
9:50: Biden absolutely tears apart Palin on foreign policy yet again. I genuinely don’t think at this point Palin is coming anywhere close to hitting it out of the park, or even a double. Maybe a single on base.
9:51: Biden pulls out McCain-and-Spain in the most gloriously assholic way possible.
9:52: Sarah Palin’s answer on Israel is possibly the least coherent thing she has said all night. She just says anything vaguely related to the topic at hand and hopes it sticks. She is a human bullshit shotgun. She is a thesaurus gone retarded.
9:53: Biden tears apart the Bush adminstration’s foreign policy step-by-step. He is being such a jerk. The lines love him, because he knows what he is talking about and it is obvious.
9:54: Palin is so happy that everybody loves Israel! And then complains that Biden and Obama are playing the “blame game” and are fingerpointing, which is convenient because the fingers are all pointed at her useless idiot party.
9:55: Biden: “Past is prologue.” Oh YES. Then does a very good job, policywise, of linking McCain to Bush. Lines like this very much.
9:56: Palin boldly comes out against nuclear war. Secretly, she hopes that Joe Biden will say he is PRO nuclear war! Then she will win the debate for sure!
9:58: Palin: America needs a surge in Afghanistan like they do in Iraq! And how dare Obama say that soldiers have accidentally killed Afghani civilians! They’re building schools, you know!
9:59: Biden: “Our commanding general in Afghanistan said TODAY that a surge won’t work there.” OH SNAP. Biden is just pwning Palin on foreign policy so fierce it is crazy. I mean, this isn’t even close. This is like me playing Kasparov at chess. No, this is like my mom’s cat playing Kasparov at chess. “No, kitty, don’t eat the rook.”
10:00: Palin’s starting to lose her temper.
10:01: Biden talks about Kosovo. The lines like Kosovo! (What the hell are “Bosniaks,” though? They sound like a type of sneaker.) Then says America can lead in Darfur if it’s willing to do so. The lines really, really like this.
10:03: Palin tries to say that Biden is a flip-flopper, then tries to compare him to John Kerry, all while playing her cutesy small-town chick rule, then blathers some more. My god this woman never should be in charge of anything ever. Then starts talking about the Alaska Permanent Fund, and how they divested themselves from Sudan, because – Christ, I don’t know any more.
10:05: That was an uncharacteristically weak response by Biden and the lines showed it.
10:06: “John McCain knows how to win a war!” This is true. McCain won the War Against American Airplanes, and the War Against Being Faithful To His First Wife, and the War Against Coherence. Military wars, no, John McCain hasn’t won any of those.
10:08: “What if the president died?” Biden: I’d keep carrying out Obama’s policies, because they are awesome sauce. The lines love him. ESPECIALLY the ladies. That is why Joe Biden is called the Silver Fox. Palin: “I would wet myself, then go into a corner and cry.” No, actually she says she’d do whatever she wanted to do because they are a team of mavericks (current maverick count: seven), which means putting government on the side of the people and fighting corruption and bringing small-town values to Washington, because what the country needs is the viewpoint of one-tenth of its population in charge. The lines like this. FUCK OHIO. FUCK OHIO RIGHT IN THE ASS. (Which would be, what, Cincinatti? I have no idea about Ohio.)
10:10: “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” You kinda get the feeling she’s been waiting to say that all night, doncha? And she starts talking about education, which means talking about the teachers in her family in lieu of anything about, you know, policy or anything like that.
10:13: Ifill brings out the “what does the veep DO, anyway?” Palin says “we all know!” Then says “presiding over the Senate,” and not a lot else. Talks about energy independence, because that is her area of expertise, god save America.
10:14: Biden: “as veep, I would shove Obama’s legislation down the throats of Congress and make them love it and ask for seconds. Also, I have a big mouth.”
10:16: Oh god Gwen ifill is asking Sarah Palin a question about the Constitution. Palin, predictably, talks about nothing for a couple of minutes and doesn’t actually answer the question in any way. Blather blather blather. Sarah Palin Podium On Fire Rating: 0.4.
10:17: Biden slags Dick Cheney, because that is the easy road to popularitytown. Says that the VP has no actual enumerated power beyond deciding tie votes. Whew.
10:18: Oh god, a question about Sarah Palin’s experience. She is qualified, I shit you not, because she is connected to the heartland of America. SHE REALLY SAID THAT. Then she talks about how they’ve “been there” worrying about healthcare, despite having been a public servant for most of her adult life. She is also an agent of tolerance, because when you think about small-town America, you think “tolerant.”
10:19: Biden’s experience. He admits to having a big mouth. Well, duh. Talks about being a single parent (lines very appreciative). Nearly breaks down for a bit talking about how he knows what it’s like having to worry about having a child who “might not make it.” Lines SKYROCKET for that.
10:22: Palin: Maverick maverick maverick maverick maverick maverick James Garner maverick. Mentions how Joe Lieberman and Rudy Giuliani love McCain. Oh, please, Sarah Palin, mention two of the least popular politicians in America some more!
10:23: Shorter Biden: “Maverick? BULLSHIT.” Lines are VERY VERY big on this. Veep candidates are attack dogs and Biden just chewed up McCain and spat him out.
10:24: Ifill: “What did you change your opinion on, issuewise, because of changing circumstances?” Biden: I didn’t think Supreme Court justices mattered because all candidates were responsible. Then I learned what shit really goes down. Palin: I didn’t veto budgets, and it was the right thing to do, even though it left my town twenty million bucks in the hole after three years, which was not my fault because other people put together those budgets, not me.
10:27: “How will you change the tone?” Biden: I have a history of working across the aisle to get shit done. Look at my record. I don’t question people’s motives (yeah, sure). Palin: I appointed people regardless of political affiliation, be they Republican, Libertarian, or Scientologist.
10:29: Palin’s closing statement: I’d like more debates! (Suuuuure you would, Sarah.) I like talking directly to the people, rather than being asked questions by pesky “journalists” who might “know things” about my “record and stated beliefs.” I’m lucky to be an American, and so is John McCain, and Reagan said something, and fight fight fight fight fight fight fight maverick fight fight maverick maverick change fight fight go Huskies fight fight fight. Lines: a little bit likey.
10:30: Biden’s closing statement: middle class needs to do better, we need to do better, John McCain is a fucktard, and the only reason I’m not saying “this woman at the other podium is a retard” is because I don’t have to by this point. Time to get up off the mat, America! Lines: love him to death.
And that’s it. I suspect the pundits will declare Palin’s performance to be all right but not exactly a solid win, because that’s the best way to discuss things.