Thursday, October 02, 2008

Vice-Presidential Candidates Debate Predictions

I probably won't get a chance to watch or listen to the debate tonight between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, but here is my prediction, if not of the substance, of the collective media reaction afterwards.

The expectations for Palin are so low at this point, that her ability to stand upright and speak English will be praised and lead to comparisons with Ronald Reagan.* She won't make any major mistakes, but she won't say anything beyond the scripted talking points, either. I've read descriptions of her as having the same presence as a local TV personality, in that she'll hit her mark, smile at the camera, and say the words that someone else has written for her, but that's about it. She can't write the words, she can't fully comprehend the concepts behind them, but she can smile and work a crowd, which she will do in abundance.

Biden will probably make some gaffe, state some small "fact" that is isn't, and will be immediately pounced upon by the right-wing noise machine. He'll make some point a little too forcefully, going for a "You're no Jack Kennedy" moment, but be excoriated for being "mean" to "poor Sarah."**

Above all else, this will be called a "game changer". No one covering the election wants this to be over five weeks before the candidates reach the finish line, so look for high praise for Palin and questions of whether Biden is a drag on the Obama campaign to be raised among the punditry. Obama pulled ahead of McCain in the polls after their first debate, and now the people telling the story want that gap to close, so that there is something to write about. (As soon as that gap closes, and especially if McCain-Palin takes the lead, look for a new tack to keep Obama-Biden in play. Everyone keep watching! You don't know what twist is coming next!)

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* The comparison may be apt, but the people who will make it are the ones who like Reagan and believe that he single-handedly ended the Cold War. He said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," after all. That every president before him since the Berlin Wall went up said some variation of those words, you wouldn't think it meant that much, but...

** Remember: Hillary Clinton tearing up in an unguarded moment during a rough primary season was a sign that she wasn't capable of playing hardball in the international arena, but anyone asking anything difficult of Palin is just being mean. Maybe Senator Clinton can take Governor Palin at some point and share with her the names she was called for daring to run for high office while possessing lady parts. Of course, most of the people who said that they would never vote for a woman are now calling Palin "inspiring."