It really was the tale of two debates.

I usually have a visceral reaction to political debates and big speeches, but I’m drawing a blank here.

My immediate reaction was that Biden had a stronger command of the subject matter — no surprise there — and kept his ego and blowhard-iness in check (which is no short order for him).  I thought Palin seemed a nervous at first — no surprise there, either — but found her sea legs as the debate wore on.  She didn’t make any major gaffes, and scored a few points here and there.On the whole, however, I thought Biden won on points, and in the least didn’t hurt his candidate.

Then I started flipping around the dial to see what the talking heads had to say.   At CNN, Campbell Brown and David Gergen thought Palin more than held her own, and even Paul Begala considered it a good night for her.  Over at MSNBC, Pat Buchanan opined that Palin had “wiped the floor” with Biden, while Chris Matthews seemed to think that she connected with middle America with her folksy mannerisms.  Of course the entire Fox panel had Palin the winner, though they did acknowledge that Biden had turned in an impressive performance as well.

The McCain camp clearly prepped Governor Palin to look into the camera and speak directly to the people.  She seemed a bit rehearsed at times, but came off as likeable and charming, and showed more flashes of “convention Sarah” than “Couric Sarah”.

Was it enough to make a difference? Hard to tell, though I’m doubtful.  She might have stopped the bleeding, but I’m not sure if it moved the needle.  It’ll be interesting to see how the polls move.

Footnote: I have no idea what the winking was about.  Maybe their polling showed that undecided men dig it.

Politics The Verdict