The St. Petersburg Times found Biden simply vonderful:
The much-anticipated debate between vice presidential candidates Thursday night provided a stark contrast. Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, the running mate for Sen. Barack Obama, is well prepared to be vice president. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the running mate for Sen. John McCain, clearly is not prepared. This is the rare election where voters should give serious consideration to the bottom of the ticket before casting their ballots for president.Why should voters give the under ticket such serious consideration? Perhaps because the top of the Democratic ticket is woefully inexperienced compared to the top of the GOP ticket? The Times editor would have us guess, for no explanation follows.
Biden demonstrated a strong command of economic issues, health care and foreign policy. He cited specifics and offered unusually sharp responses, in contrast to his reputation for rambling answers. He made a coherent case against the Bush administration for its handling of the economy and the war in Iraq, and he effectively linked McCain's proposals to the unpopular incumbent.No explanation follows for this glowing review of Biden's performance. Fact-checking will reveal that Biden played fast and loose with the truth on a number of key points, which leads me to believe that this editorial reflects a tendency I've noted before: Editorialists sometimes take the things they believe as facts. When a news outfit tilts left, some "left" facts that are not true end up getting repeated and reinforced in the the news.
I will grant the last point, however. It has been the Obama-Biden strategy to tie McCain to Bush at every opportunity (whether legitimate or not), and the repetition seems to be working.
Let's get to the Palin-bashing, though:
Palin often talked in circles. In one sentence, she declared "darn right it was the predator lenders'' who have caused the economic crisis. Then she talked about the need for more regulatory oversight. Then she talked about the need for people to be responsible and avoid getting into debt.How is that talking in circles? Gwen Ifill asked who was responsible and mentioned both the lenders and homebuyers in separate parts of the same question. Apparently the editorialist sees the question as a dilemma. Palin must pick one. Once Palin has picked one, the other is implicitly absolved of any blame. But that's stupid. Both can be (and were) to blame and it is nonsense to suggest that Palin talked in circles simply by spreading the blame, though it's questionable whether she even did so. More interesting is the entity that was never mentioned in Ifill's phrasing of the question, namely government regulators who created the subprime market by incentivizing loans to high risk borrowers.
What's up with that, Ifill?
So, the Times strikes out with its lone example of Palin talking in circles. It's certainly true that Palin kept her answers fairly simple and reiterated points she had already made, but that is simply a well-known method of effective communication. A very effective method of communication, if you see what I mean.
At other points, she was absolutely incoherent. She lost herself in a rambling response about nuclear weapons. She was inarticulate at best about the causes of global warming — probably because she previously has questioned whether humans have contributed to the problem. Responded Biden: "I think it is man-made. … If you don't understand what the cause is, it's virtually impossible to come up with a solution.''Nuclear weapons, global warming.
Regarding Palin's treatment of nuclear weapons, Gwen Ifill served up a confused question, mixing "interventionism" with the use of nuclear weapons.
I don't see any sense in framing the use of nuclear weapons in association with interventionism. Ifill flubbed up on that one. Palin reasonably took the question in terms of interventionist response to the attempts of irresponsible nations to acquire nuclear weapons. In that context, Palin's response is coherent. Biden's only attempt to address the issue was to try to give Obama undeserved credit for Sen. Richard Lugar's nuclear materials bill. I'm sure in the writer's eyes Sen. Biden's response was finely nuanced brilliance.
IFILL: Governor, on another issue, interventionism, nuclear weapons. What should be the trigger, or should there be a trigger, when nuclear weapons use is ever put into play?
PALIN: Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be all, end all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period.
Our nuclear weaponry here in the U.S. is used as a deterrent. And that's a safe, stable way to use nuclear weaponry.
But for those countries -- North Korea, also, under Kim Jong Il -- we have got to make sure that we're putting the economic sanctions on these countries and that we have friends and allies supporting us in this to make sure that leaders like Kim Jong Il and Ahmadinejad are not allowed to acquire, to proliferate, or to use those nuclear weapons. It is that important.
As for global warming, Palin's response was fine. Ifill arguably asked the question specifically to draw out Palin regarding past expressions of anthropogenic global warming skepticism. Palin did not take the bait. McCain buys into anthropogenic global warming, so Palin simply offered that she did not want to get into the issue of cause but instead focus on solutions.
Biden, in contrast, signed on unequivocally with the anthropogenic climate change camp. I think only time will tell which candidate answered with better judgment. Probably Biden's answer pleased a higher percentage of the electorate, however--that percentage that takes anthropogenic global warming as a type of gospel.
IFILL: Governor, I'm happy to talk to you in this next section about energy issues. Let's talk about climate change. What is true and what is false about what we have heard, read, discussed, debated about the causes of climate change?
PALIN: Yes. Well, as the nation's only Arctic state and being the governor of that state, Alaska feels and sees impacts of climate change more so than any other state. And we know that it's real.
I'm not one to attribute every man -- activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man's activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet.
But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don't want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?
We have got to clean up this planet. We have got to encourage other nations also to come along with us with the impacts of climate change, what we can do about that.
As governor, I was the first governor to form a climate change sub-cabinet to start dealing with the impacts. We've got to reduce emissions. John McCain is right there with an "all of the above" approach to deal with climate change impacts.
We've got to become energy independent for that reason. Also as we rely more and more on other countries that don't care as much about the climate as we do, we're allowing them to produce and to emit and even pollute more than America would ever stand for.
So even in dealing with climate change, it's all the more reason that we have an "all of the above" approach, tapping into alternative sources of energy and conserving fuel, conserving our petroleum products and our hydrocarbons so that we can clean up this planet and deal with climate change.
Here is the extent of Palin's explanation of energy policy. When Biden referred to Republican chants of "drill! drill! drill!'', Palin corrected him. "The chant is, 'drill, baby, drill,' '' she said.Hmmm. The editorialist is either lying or engaging in a very misleading bit of hyperbole.
IFILL: Well, clear it up for us, both of you, and start with Gov. Palin.Big score for Palin with that last line, not that a blinkered editorialist at the Times would notice.
PALIN: Yes, Sen. McCain does support this. The chant is "drill, baby, drill." And that's what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into.
They know that even in my own energy-producing state we have billions of barrels of oil and hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean, green natural gas. And we're building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline which is North America's largest and most you expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets.
Barack Obama and Sen. Biden, you've said no to everything in trying to find a domestic solution to the energy crisis that we're in. You even called drilling -- safe, environmentally-friendly drilling offshore as raping the outer continental shelf.
There -- with new technology, with tiny footprints even on land, it is safe to drill and we need to do more of that. But also in that "all of the above" approach that Sen. McCain supports, the alternative fuels will be tapped into: the nuclear, the clean coal.
I was surprised to hear you mention that because you had said that there isn't anything -- such a thing as clean coal. And I think you said it in a rope line, too, at one of your rallies.
But let us once again share the blinkered point of view:
Her message on the Iraq war was similarly simplistic. She said it would be a "travesty if we quit now in Iraq'' — which no one advocates. And Obama's call for a gradual withdrawal of troops, she said, is waving a white flag of surrender. Such responses lack depth or a grasp of reality.One wonders on what basis the Times editorialist feels entitled to judge.
Palin, in fact, took the opportunity to take another "Gotcha" type question from Ifill ("You both have sons who are in Iraq or on their way to Iraq. You, Gov. Palin, have said that you would like to see a real clear plan for an exit strategy. What should that be, Governor?") and turn it into an expose of Biden's past criticisms of Obama's approach to Iraq. Certainly Palin couldn't trust Ifill with that sort of thing. Palin's grasp on reality is firm: A withdrawal plan not based on the success of security capability in Iraq is foolishness. And that type of plan is exactly what Biden offered to the apparent drooling admiration of certain Times staffers.
Palin was clear on at least one point, and the Obama campaign will wrap it around McCain. In a discussion in which Biden described Obama's plan to keep tax cuts for the middle class but not for wealthier Americans, Palin suggested she was not on board with such a "redistribution of wealth.'' That was an easy shot for Biden, who noted that helping middle class families in Scranton, Pa., and other places send their children to college is not a redistribution of wealth.Message to the editorialist: If you tax one group of people (say, "the rich") and use that money to put into effect the aforementioned "helping middle class families" then you're engaged in the redistribution of wealth. QED. Biden can fool these people with a euphemism?
Palin often chided Biden for looking backward instead of forward. No wonder, since she conceded the Bush administration has made "huge blunders'' on Iraq and the economy. "We're gonna forge ahead,'' she said. The problem, of course, is that McCain's vision on tax cuts, health care and the ongoing war in Iraq is virtually identical to Bush's. That makes it harder to build on McCain's reputation as a maverick, which Palin repeated as often as she could.The editorialist made up the part about Palin conceding blunders on the economy, unless it is drawn from some non-debate statement. The problem with the Times' criticism is that Bush's economic policies and Iraq policies (in the Petraeus era, at least) have been good. On health care, at least Bush is better than Obama-Biden. Again, bias guides the editorialist's judgment.
The editorial simply provides evidence of poor judgment at the Times. It makes no informed judgments on Palin. Palin did plenty to establish herself politically, for she kept the uber-experienced Biden on the defensive for virtually the entire debate in spite of Ifill's helpful attempts to guide the debate in Biden's favor. She hammered Biden on his differences with Obama with class, style and a disarming smile. She called Biden on one of his erroneous claims, pointing out that while a surge strategy patterned after the one in Iraq was unsuitable for Afghanistan that none the less a COIN strategy would be suitable for Afghanistan--no mean feat for a supposed foreign policy neophyte going up against one of the stronger Democrats on foreign policy.
Biden was the clear winner of the only debate between the candidates for vice president. But the night was really about Palin, who on Monday will visit Clearwater. She proved to be disarmingly charming. When she's not fumbling for specifics or repeating generalities about fighting big government, opposing taxes and embracing patriotism, her folksy cadence sounds warm and approachable. It's clear why she connects with many Republicans eager to hear from someone who sounds familiar and informal.
But the Alaska governor said nothing to reassure Americans she is prepared to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
That's why pundits right and left are calling the debate a win for Palin.
Not that the editors at the Times will notice. Is any opinion important apart from their own?
Roger Simon's observations of the media lens overlap with mine:
Tonight, Sarah Palin drove another stake in the heart of those fuddy-duddy reactionaries that constitute our mainstream media. Going toe-to-toe with a senator with decades of experience, she more than held her own, giving lie to the media constructed narrative that she was an inexperienced hick from nowheresville Alaska. It demonstrates once again why the media is held in such contempt. For economic and ego reasons, they consider themselves to be our gatekeepers, but frankly they are not that smart. They are not rocket scientists – figuratively or literally. They are certainly no smarter than Sarah Palin. I would be willing to bet that in a free debate with Katie Couric, Palin would come out the victor.