For my fellow political junkies: A debate thread.
Following up on my Palin post yesterday, I'd say that Governor Palin turned in a solid but not outstanding performance at the vice presidential debate last night. She had no particular gaffes and she held her own against Senator Biden. She was honest and charming and almost always sounded like she was talking rather than reciting.
However, I would have liked to see her go on the attack a bit more. Biden got away with some insanely blatent falsehoods. For instance, he claimed that we've spent less in the entire Afghan war than we do in any given month in Iraq. So far we've spent over $170 billion on the Afghan war, and the Iraq war costs roughly $10 billion per month. So Biden was wrong by nearly a factor of 20x. He also lied in saying that McCain had voted "the same as Obama" to cut off funding to the troops int he field. McCain opposed a Democratic funding bill (which Bush had promised to veto if it passed) which included a demand for a scheduled pull out -- but he supported the bill which actually passed, and which Obama opposed. And perhaps most blatant of all, Biden claimed that McCain "wants to give $4 billion in special tax breaks to Exxon Mobile". This is true only in the sense that McCain wants to cut corporate taxes on all companies to bring them in line with those in Europe and Asia and keep American companies competitive. The others require a bit of googling (which one can't do in the middle of a debate) to look up the facts, even if you immediately know that Biden's claims ring false. But that last one is huge, blatant and easy. And it would have been a great chance for Palin to call him on the carpet for lying to the American electorate.
And as a principled conservative I'm not at all impressed with some of the standard populist lines which she came out with about "Wall Street greed". I'm sorry: If you buy a 300k house when you could only afford a 100k house (to use the example she gave) you are at least as at fault for your resulting troubles as the lender who was foolish enough to give you the loan. You should know your situation better than your lender does, not count on them to tell you what you can afford.
So while I thought Palin turned in an overall solid performance -- vastly exceeding the expectations set by the "she's an idiot" chorus of the last couple weeks -- I didn't think it was stellar, and I wish that it had been.
A Motte and Bailey Ambiguity
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