Friday, October 3, 2008

Fellow Blogger: How Biden Won the Debate

NOTE: Click on the title of this blog posting to like to the article that this post was taken from

Debate Analysis: Why Biden Won

Sarah Palin did what I and many others thought she would do — she easily beat the extremely low expectations many had set for her. She did not have a meltdown. She did not faint or run off the stage. She only sometimes acted like Tina Fey's impersonation of her. 

Palin looked right into the camera, only bizarrely winking a few times. She stuck to her script, only straying, rambling, or talking nonsense a few times. She attacked Barack Obama and Joe Biden's records, though could not defend John McCain's. She answered the questions she wanted to answer, not the ones that were asked. She attacked the media. She had obviously done her homework and studied very, very hard. I applaud her for that.

But Joe Biden was amazing, probably giving the performance of his life, way better than I had imagined. And Sarah Palin was utterly out of her league on every level. 

Before (or if) I get into all the ways Joe Biden defeated Sarah Palin in their first and only debate, I need to talk about one moment first. And that was when Joe Biden choked up when talking about being a single parent and worrying about the lives of his kids. I haven't watched many debates in my life, but this moment was one of the most powerful I've seen in one. 

Most bloggers/commentators/pundits/etc. (including ones I respect and many I don't) have said that the debate lacked fireworks or big moments. I disagree.

In less than two minutes, Joe Biden not only spoke about himself, his career as a politician, his childhood, and why he understands the struggles of working people. He also spoke about the values of himself and his party (that government can help when guided by the right values and leadership), and ended it with what is both the central theme of the Obama/Biden campaign and a devastating indictment of John McCain and his party's philosophy — Americans need change, not more of the same. 

And, most amazingly, Joe Biden spoke from the perspective of a single father, a group one has probably never heard about in any presidential debate and rarely hears about in politics or anywhere else. One of Palin's (and the Republicans') strengths is their identification as protectors of the family and "family values". But Biden would not cede this ground, and neither he, nor the Democrats, should ever have to. Joe Biden is a father, a husband, and widower who has lost a child, raised two on his own, and now, thanks to Bush's war, will have to wonder again if one of his sons might die. Don't tell him that he doesn't know about families and their values.

In many ways, it clearly crystalized what this election, the candidates, and this country, in the midst of such difficult times, is all about in a way that powerful and grand while personal and intimate. I think that qualifies as a big moment.

As Leah McElrath wrote at Huffpo:

Joe Biden did more for the equality of the sexes with his honest display of paternal emotion during the vice presidential debate than Sarah Palin's presence on the executive ticket has or will ever do.

It feels funny — my post after the first presidential debate focused mostly on the body language and behavior of John McCain and Barack Obama, and how McCain came across as a total jerk. And now I'm writing about the vice-presidential debate's most touching moment. But it's hard to ignore what hits you on an emotional level, which is, for better or for worse, where political battles are fought.

And to those who would say that I'm not focusing enough on the policies and hard numbers, I say this:

Policy is important. But dammit, I'm not made of stone. 

Below is the transcript of what Biden said:

And, by the way, a record of change -- I will place my record and Barack's record against John McCain's or anyone else in terms of fundamental accomplishments. Wrote the crime bill, put 100,000 cops on the street, wrote the Violence Against Women Act, which John McCain voted against both of them, was the catalyst to change the circumstance in Bosnia, led by President Clinton, obviously.

Look, I understand what it's like to be a single parent. When my wife and daughter died and my two sons were gravely injured, I understand what it's like as a parent to wonder what it's like if your kid's going to make it.

I understand what it's like to sit around the kitchen table with a father who says, "I've got to leave, champ, because there's no jobs here. I got to head down to Wilmington. And when we get enough money, honey, we'll bring you down."

I understand what it's like. I'm much better off than almost all Americans now. I get a good salary with the United States Senate. I live in a beautiful house that's my total investment that I have. So I -- I am much better off now.

But the notion that somehow, because I'm a man, I don't know what it's like to raise two kids alone, I don't know what it's like to have a child you're not sure is going to -- is going to make it -- I understand.

I understand, as well as, with all due respect, the governor or anybody else, what it's like for those people sitting around that kitchen table. And guess what? They're looking for help. They're looking for help. They're not looking for more of the same.


This video is also available onYouTube.

Post a comment
Anonymous commented about 5 hours ago:

sad how palin tried to lecture biden about 'not 

looking to the past' when she kept bringing up 

her past experience in alaska. full of contradictions. 

on one hand, palin can bring up the past experience 

of both herself and mccain - but biden, just don't

talk about the bush administration and its past? 

one cannot have it both ways, another reason 

why biden won this debate. palin was just a good 

sounding board...

A World Citizen commented about 6 hours ago:

Thought Biden spoke very well, he knew his stuff 

thats for sure. If you're looking for a VP with 

depth he'd be the person for the job. 
Many people i've spoken to (Australia) thought 

he came over very well and as an intelligent 

compassionate and gentle person. 
I thought Palin did well considering her inexperience,

indeed she was quite slick and behaved a lot better 

than McCain did in his debate; but she failed to answer questions and did resort to soundbites. Her 

constant appeals to 'soccer moms' or whatever 

you call them, were pretty blatant .." well ya know, 

thats the difference between how you washington 

types do things ..." 
To think that if McCain fell off his perch in the 

near future she would be President is SCARY and 

a bit too much like the plot of a TV program for 

my liking. 
But hey, its not like its a Presidential Election , 

its a popularity contest isn't it ? Kinda like Big 


Anonymous commented about 7 hours ago:

look - it's o'toole-fuckface!

no one is paying attention to you as you've 

shown how ignorant and uncouth you are. 

speaking of mothers, i just got off yours so 

you should show a little more respect!

Otis Toole commented about 7 hours ago:

I am hoping YOU wake up after taking your 

head out of your mother's ass and you wipe 

the shit off before you go out to collect your 

food stamps.

And try to get that SHIFT key working, so your 

CAPS are appropriately placed at the beginning 

of your retarded sentences.

Cheers and a big fuck you.

Yer pal,


Anonymous commented about 8 hours ago:

i am hoping you wake up after bumping your 

big head into the wall thinking for once that 

Mcbush/Palin would be sworn in! that ain't 

happening even on a cold day in hell. have 

you seen the polls lately? maybe you're one of 

those backwood rednecks who have NO television 

to keep up on the latest news. maybe.

Gloria commented about 8 hours ago:

I am hoping you will put this back up after 

McCain/Palin are sworn in. It is entertaining to 

read what you post to entertain yourselves.

Craig Sipple commented about 8 hours ago:

You are an interesting people America. If a 

politician started to bubble up over here (U.K) 

he/she could kiss thier career goodby. Same if 

they even mentioned god.

renazantz commented about 10 hours ago:

I used to scream at the TV and the Radio when I 

heard Bush speaking. Then in the last few years, 

I learned about Thom and other progressive radio personalities. Before then I had thought I was going 

crazy thinking "how and why is bush getting away 

with this?" Now I turn off the sound when I know 

Bush will speak. Well last night as I listed to Palin, 

I got that horrible screaming feeling again!!! AAAAUUUUUGGGGHHHHH!!!! Then I just started 

laughing at her. I got great comfort in hearing 

Biden talk!!

goodgirlroxie commented about 13 hours ago:

Joe Biden debated. Sarah Palin performed a TV 

commercial with talking points.

Sadly, many, many American voters have been 

dumbed down, by TV, to the point where they 

can't make this distinction.

At the debate party I attended last night, we 

counted four of Palin's weird winks. They're a 

former beauty pageant's nervous tic.

Kanuk25 commented about 13 hours ago:

There was NO debate. Plain Palin did not debate. 

She ACTED. She acted on scripted words. When 

she got through many of her off-topic rants, she 

pursed her lips into a squeeze that said: Whew! 

I got through that one!

1 comment:

gardensforamerica said...

This article was very interesting because while I definitely enjoyed Biden speaking I never put this debate in the context of "the best performance of his career". It was really excellent. I do think an analysis of why John McCain refuses to fight the "war on terror" in a more multilateral, multifront way may be needed. But I'm not sure whether it is wise or necessary to do so.

The main message I came away with from this debate is that Palin is really inexperienced, completely unknowledgable of vast sectors of American governance and a really poor choice in a VP. I do not know who else McCain could have chosen, but she did not come across as impressive to me at all.

She seemed to know about three topics, the war in Iraq, energy and taxes (somewhat). The other topics she did not even engage in.

I found myself turning to Biden again and again to clear up the issue, to explain an issue, and to really give a detailed analysis.

Palin spoke in generalities, I don't even see what it is that she studied that everyone seems to be talking about. She was bad. She again did not debate, all she spoke was rhetoric, meaningless, generalities that spoke little of specifics, action items, strategies or directions forward.

I think the media needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Why aren't they chewing her out for being so bad?! Why are they focusing on how "shy" she was, or how "unprepared, inexperienced, not used to the attention" quick to study up....

No amount of studying will make up for 30 years of experience leading bills through congress period. Especially not if the governor lacks basic knowledge about our government's politics.