As I’ve said before, it wasn’t enough for Palin to not fall on her face. And to her credit she didn’t. But to have any effect in this race, she had to demonstrate an almost preternatural sense of what independent American voters wanted to hear. But between her folksy talk and canned answers that danced around answering some of the questions, she seemed less like a hockey mom and much more like a politician than she ever has.
Also, how many times can you say “maverick” and still be taken seriously? She had to show she was a maverick tonight, not tell everybody she was. And that’s why it all fell flat.
One thing she did do well was talk directly into the camera from the very start. But Biden picked up on that about 10 minutes in and took away her “eye contact” advantage.
Turning to Biden, he did what he had to do. He came in there, hammered McCain and essentially ignored Palin. In fact, I can’t remember any time he ever directly attacked her except for the “Bridge To Nowhere” line, which was probably the most effective jab of the night. Instead he always coupled her with McCain, and then tied them both to Bush. And it was effective. She tried like hell to run from Bush in a way that I think shocked many, but voters aren’t buying it and Biden didn’t let her get away with it.
He also showed a hell of a lot of passion, and because of it he came off as somebody who would fight for the middle class. Paging disgruntled Hillary Clinton voters…
Ultimately, will this debate move the needle much? Probably not. Most independents will still be uncomfortable with Palin’s obvious lack of experience and will think Biden is enough like them to give him their vote.
Now then…on to the next debate!