Last night’s debate was unique for several reasons not least of which was Sarah Palin’s stage demeanor and performance. I didn’t realize that winking was a method of communicating valid answers to direct questions, but apparently Palin thought it was a great way of getting comfy with the viewers and avoiding direct answers. Mind you, the audience probably was not privy to the winks unless they were picked up on large TV screens.
But to TV viewers the winks were, of course, very obvious. I thought at first it was a twitch – it happened so quickly. With the cameras focused on Palin’s head and upper torso, she combined a snappy, tart response style dripping with -isms of all kinds. Then, quick as a wink – pardon the pun – she threw in a wink.
“Say it ain’t so, Joe”, “You betcha”, “Darn Tootin”, “Joe Six-Pack”, and “Doggone it” among other colloquialisms peppered her non-answers. The first time she threw one of her cutesy phrases into the mix, I was startled and thought “what the heck?” After all, this was to be a debate between two candidates for the office of vice-president not a rootin’, tootin’ rodeo competition.
And that was another one of her annoying habits – she kept dropping the “g’s” in a continued attempt to keep that folksy tone to her speech. After all, you can only wink so many times and come up with snappy little sayings so often.
Biden, on the other hand, did not have to resort to theatrics. He had a great command of the facts, and he stayed on task. And his task was to make sure that the viewers understood who John McCain really was rather than the persona McCain likes to think he is.
Biden called into question McCain’s constant droning on about his “maverick” status by highlighting McCain’s lack of divergence from the Bush administration and his lack of acting on behalf of the folks “sitting around the kitchen table.”
And, in response to Palin’s comments about how worrisome it was to be the mother of a special needs child and a son about to leave for Iraq, Biden succinctly and emotionally talked about his parenting of his two injured sons after his wife and infant daughter were killed in an accident. Parenting is for fathers as well as mothers, which Biden effectively conveyed to the audience.
On topic after topic, Biden answered in a serious vein aiming at McCain and his policies while Palin answered with scripted blurbs interspersed with folksy comments. After all, Palin herself said she had only been doing this for “five weeks now.”
I have to hand it to her though, she did not make any gaffes as anticipated. She held her own even if there was little substance to her scripted answers and she kept incessantly parroting the stolen Obama theme of “change.” Biden as well did not make any gaffes. There were those who thought he might ramble or talk down to Palin, but he was focused, informed, and articulate.
The debate is now over, and the Republicans can breathe a sigh of relief that Palin managed to get through the 90-minute debate without any serious missteps. But that sigh of relief has to be turning into a gasp for air, especially with the polls showing Biden handily won the debate and Obama is now approaching a double-digit lead over McCain.