Archive for October 1st, 2008

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Official Chamber Biden-Palin Debate Thread

October 1, 2008

As a follow-up to the previous thread, I figured that I might as well start one for the much-anticipated and only VP debate.  I do this a day early so we can have room to make predictions, a little liveblogging (if anyone’s around), and reactions.

For now, I’m going to start with a few pre-debate thoughts…

First, it’d be irresponsible for the Chamber not to mention the notion that the various statements made by Palin these last few weeks has reduced the expectations of her to the lowest of levels (that’s what the media’s been implying, anyway).   To sum it up, Countdown put together a pretty good montage:

click to watch

click to watch

Could Palin “win” simply by showing up and not saying anything too embarrassing?  On the other hand, based on these interviews, is that even probable?

Second, to gain a little insight, we should highlight those who have debated Palin in the past, and those people are saying that she shouldn’t be underestimated

While policy wonks such as Biden might cringe, it seemed to me that Palin was simply vocalizing her strength without realizing it. During the campaign, Palin’s knowledge on public policy issues never matured – because it didn’t have to. Her ability to fill the debate halls with her presence and her gift of the glittering generality made it possible for her to rely on populism instead of policy.

Palin is a master of the nonanswer. She can turn a 60-second response to a query about her specific solutions to healthcare challenges into a folksy story about how she’s met people on the campaign trail who face healthcare challenges. All without uttering a word about her public-policy solutions to healthcare challenges.

Of course, most politicians rely on the ability to weild the “nonanswer” as a defense mechanism and to avoid being pinned down.  But tomorrow night’s debate will be a completely different set of circumstances.  This one will be on a national stage covering both domestic and international issues, and subjected to the spin and interpretation of the media and pundits across the country.   It remains to be seen she can pull this off outside of the familiar confines of her home turf.  After all, one would think that it’s a lot easier to do it when the issues exclusively deal with the state in which you’ve lived your whole life.  And given the fact that there’s been so much attention paid to the aforementioned cluelessness that she’s already displayed on the national and international issues, the “nonanswer” will now be something that people will be looking for and picking apart (if not outright mocking).

Finally, I’ll just add that Biden’s best approach is to exude confidence and competence and to be careful not to attack Palin in a condescending manner, as in doing so he risks coming across as a bully and turning people off.  In fact, the best advise would be to avoid attacking Palin at all.  The contrast between the two should be evident if he just plays it safe and answers the questions.

And with that, I open up the thread and start popping the popcorn…

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