I’ve often wondered about the football coach who first faced the wishbone offense. He’d never seen anything like it before and must have been blown away with how to defend it. I wondered about the look on his face when that 3-back offense first appeared. I think I saw that look last night on Joe Biden. He had never seen anything like Sarah Palin and he had no idea how to defend against her. And it showed.
Going into the debate, I said McCain needs to let Palin be Palin. Do this and she wins. That’s what happened last night. I never bought this nonsense that Palin isn’t intelligent. You don’t become a Governor with an 80% approval rating by being dumb. She is different. She lacks national experience. She isn’t like any other politician we’ve ever seen. But dumb she is not. It would be a major disaster for the Left to underestimate her. American citizens just spent the last week telling their Congressmen that they would rather endure a recession than pay for a government bailout of Wall Street. Assuming these same people will reject Palin because she isn’t an expert on the issues will be a big mistake.
Biden no doubt had a command of the issues. He knew what he was talking about. He knew the records of Obama and McCain (even though he lied more than once about it). He drew on his 36 years of Senate experience. In short, he knew much more than Sarah Palin. The problem is he sounded like someone who’d been in the Senate for 36 years. Palin didn’t. He sounded like someone who has been debating issues all of his life. Palin didn’t. He sounded like a Washington insider. Palin didn’t. And in times like these, that gives her an insurmountable advantage.
Sarah Palin is a truly unique politician. Her syntax is odd. She uses “there” and “also” repeatedly. Her grammar is off. It is very strange and something I am not used to. But it would be foolish for someone to claim she is not intelligent based on that alone, which is likely to happen from the Left. Apparently, the only thing that qualifies as intelligence is the proper use of adverbs and prepositions.
Maybe this is a geographical thing. I mean, I find Canadian’s and Minnesotan’s verbiage odd as well and I’m sure those people will see my Mississippi/Texas English similarly. I’m used to politicians having oratory talent like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. It seems to be a prereq for politics. But Sarah doesn’t have that gift, and she is most definitely not a typical politician. Get beyond her bizarre dialect and you saw someone who had good knowledge of the issues. She is by no means an expert in anything but energy and taxes, but I think she made a strong case against the elites that she is indeed qualified to be Vice President. She certainly debunked the claims of “another Dan Quayle”. Liberals will no doubt pull their hair out over her less-than-commanding use of the English language and will most certainly cite this as a means of claiming that she lacks intelligence. That will be a monumental mistake. Her verbiage is part of her charm and part of what appeals to average Americans. It serves as a constant reminder that she is not a Washington insider. She is very much different. She is much more like your neighbor than your Senator and that’s tough to defend.
I was disappointed that she didn’t hammer at the Democrats more on the financial crisis. She missed the chance to point out that Biden himself voted for the deregulation that he blamed for the crisis. She didn’t drive home the point that McCain argued for more reform of Fannie Mae, and while Obama claims he warned of the crisis neither he nor Biden stood with McCain in that fight for reform. That was a missed opportunity. She failed to call Biden out on several occasions when Biden outright lied about records. He said that Obama never proposed unconditional presidential-level meetings with Ahmedinijad. That was a lie. He said McCain voted to repeal Bush’s tax cuts. That was a lie. He said McCain voted to cut funding for the troops. That was a lie. She let him get away with it, probably because she isn’t very well familiar with the Senate records of all the candidates. I think Biden was banking on this, which is probably why he did what he did. He wouldn’t have tried this with an experienced politician. It worked for him, but the facts will certainly be set straight in the coming days.
In a traditional sense, he outdebated her. He was on point. He answered questions. He repeated typical dem talking points. If he was up against Dan Quayle, he would have won hands down. The problem is that this was a very non-traditional debate. Palin dominated the conversation. She took over. Not even the moderator, though she tried, could control her. Palin answered the questions with one or two word answers then immediately changed the topic, often to challenge Biden on his record or Obama’s record. Again, the Left will probably consider this a negative, and in a traditional sense it would be. But Palin is something new, something non-traditional. Biden stayed on message but there were times when she seemed to get under his skin a bit. At one time, he almost strained to tell people that he too – a 6 term Senator – was a typical middle-class average Joe. It didn’t work.
We’ve never seen anything like Sarah Palin and Biden had to be thinking “how do I defend against this?” You can’t debate a non-politician like a politician. Biden was full of boring Senate speak, Palin was dropping her “g’s” and saying things like “doggone it” and “darn right”. At one time, she actually winked at the camera. Are you kidding me? Biden’s annoying smile was proof in my eyes that you can’t debate Palin like a Washington politician. It doesn’t work. It makes you look out of touch. That’s why I say Palin won. On the flip side, charm only goes so far. You have to have enough basic knowledge of the issues to show Americans that you can handle the job. We like charm but we can see through it if there isn’t enough substance. Palin didn’t come across as an expert, but she did demonstrate enough understanding of the issues to convince voters that she is ready for Vice President. Maybe not President, not yet, but certainly she can handle the #2 job. The New York Times will most definitely disagree, but that’s not the constituency she is after.
The defining moment came after she answered a question about nuclear weapons. Fred Barnes picked up on it as well and pointed out the same thing I’m about to point out. When this happened, I turned to my wife and said “Wow, that was interesting.” Palin answered the question and then said to Ifill, “I want to talk about Afghanistan for a minute”. What? The foreign policy dunce voluntarily changed the subject to Afghanistan? She then refuted Biden’s claim that the commanding general had denounced McCain’s proposal for a surge there. Palin said Biden was wrong and the general never said that. She said the general had endorsed McCain’s counterinsurgency proposal. Biden was visibly caught off-guard. For at least two or three seconds he was silent, clearly looking down to check his notes. He had no response. The Alaskan small-town hick had just rendered the 6 term Senator speechless. It was like the stone had just hit the great giant. It was great. Even better, the Liberals snicker because she mispronounced the general’s name. Never mind that she was more familiar with the Afghanistan theater commander’s policy than the Dem’s foreign policy “expert” was, she mispronounced his name, as if to say it doesn’t matter how familiar you are with policy, it’s more important to properly pronounce someone’s name. That’s laughable. That epitomizes the elitism that we have come to know so well on the Left.
Another classic moment was when Biden said his vote for the Iraq War wasn’t meant as a vote for the war. Palin called him on it by saying she’s new to Washington and doesn’t understand how people can vote one way and then claim to believe another. Hah! Thank you, Ms Palin, for voicing the frustration of just about every American citizen.
Palin’s candidacy is Reaganesque. Every time the Liberals snicker and sneer, I soak it up. They call her dumb and out of touch, labels commonly flung at Reagan. They didn’t get him and they don’t get Palin. The Left doesn’t understand people like Sarah Palin and they don’t understand how anyone could vote for her. A normal every day American has no business on a presidential ticket (of course, the forefathers would disagree). She doesn’t talk properly. She doesn’t act like they do. She must be dumb or something. They will never get her and that is part of their undoing. Middle America gets it. The middle class gets it. She has given McCain another shot at this. I just hope he doesn’t screw it up. Either way, we haven’t seen the last of Sarah Palin.