Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Quick Debate Follow-up

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.



southerncanuck said...

I thought she did just alright. I was hoping for more specifics and less vague generalities. On the Wall Street greed piece she did go into how she thought we needed to better budget our money just like generations before us did. That was a nice way of slapping the hand of the homeowners who took on more debt than they could handle.

Being a governor, she couldn't have had all the details of Senate votes and such that Biden did...but maybe a little more detail and like you said some more attacking would have been nice. I thought she retreated into slogans much too often.

Ryan Harkins said...

Palin did well, but I think Biden won the debate overall. Certainly the generalities and lack of specificity hurt Palin and helped Biden.

I'd have liked to have seen Palin on the attack more, as well. I would have liked to have heard more about personal responsibility, and I certainly would have liked a real explanation as to why we landed in our economic crisis in the first place (e.g. governmental promises of backing the mortgaging industry so that high-risk loans could be made), and how Obama's presidency is going to be exactly more of the same (e.g. tax and spend, and governmental back of health care so that insurance companies can offer insurance to high-risk people).

The thing that drives me insane is how the Obama campaign points to the tax-cut portion of Bush's economic plan as to where Bush failed. Wrong! It was Bush's huge expansion of government and out of control spending.

So I guess my comment is, I pretty much agree with your analysis!

Kyle Cupp said...

“Performance” is an accurate terms for these sorts of things. They’re not meant to give revealing insights into the candidate’s thinking and action, but rather dramatic impressions to sway the undecided voters into supporting a candidate. As for the debate itself, Palin showed that she could blatantly avoid answering questions with style and confidence. An improvement from the Couric interviews. Both candidates took questions as an opportunity to talk about whatever memorized lines and slogans (white flag of surrender!) remained in their to-say lists. Ifill let them do this without challenge or follow-ups. Indeed, the questions themselves seemed largely irrelevant to what they chose to say, though I sensed that Palin deviated from the questions more frequently than Biden.

What did you think of the exchange over granting civil rights to homosexual couples? Both Biden and Palin spoke permissively of such rights while clarifying they didn’t support changing the meaning of “marriage.”

Anonymous said...

The Blackadder Says:

It's true that Biden's answers contained a lot more specifics and factual claims than did Palin's. The only problem is that many of the factual claims he made turned out to be false. It's easy to show a mastery of the specifics of policy when you're free to just make things up as you go along.

Anonymous said...

I thought Biden was by far the more polished speaker but you are right, Palin did not make any huge gaffes.

The debate over the financial crisis reflected poorly on both sides, especially Biden. Biden vaguely referred to "deregulation" of financial markets by "Republicans" as the ultimate cause of everything, but it wasn't clear to me exactly what was deregulated and why it forced investment banks to tank eight years later. The fact that an unassuming accounting rule requiring "trading" securities to be valued at market even if it is less than net realizable value combined with the holding requirements of the banks played some part in fermenting this perfect storm demonstrates that this is not an adequate response.

CMinor said...

I thought she did a good job of connecting with her wider audience. I was unimpressed with Biden even though he managed to avoid obvious gaffes; for a guy who's been in public office as long as he has his performance was not what it should have been. His populist appeals weren't very convincing, he spent so much time bashing Bush you'd think the guy was still on the ticket, and he made some errors he really shouldn't have. I just wish Palin had nailed him on a few more of those.

Kyle Cupp said...


The Bush-bashing and repeated association of McCain with Bush will probably prove to be a winning tactic. Right or wrong, President Bush has a very low approval rating, and McCain and Palin have been doing their part to distance themselves from him and his “blunders.” Biden and Obama want the voters to think Bush is on the ticket, embodied in the figures of McCain and Palin.

CMinor said...

Oh, I'm sure it was tactical, Kyle. And I have little doubt it will help him.
But to one who would have liked to have actually heard some policy discussed, it got old fast.