Posted by Curt on 2 October, 2008 at 7:54 pm. 56 comments already!

The shoes of Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin are seen during the vice presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri October 2, 2008.

Some reactions to the debate tonight from the blogosphere and the MSM (transcript to debate here). But first….Joe Biden’s outright lies during the debate:

1. TAX VOTE: Biden said McCain voted “the exact same way” as Obama to increase taxes on Americans earning just $42,000, but McCain DID NOT VOTE THAT WAY.

2. AHMEDINIJAD MEETING: Joe Biden lied when he said that Barack Obama never said that he would sit down unconditionally with Mahmoud Ahmedinijad of Iran. Barack Obama did say specifically, and Joe Biden attacked him for it.

3. OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING: Biden said, “Drill we must.” But Biden has opposed offshore drilling and even compared offshore drilling to “raping” the Outer Continental Shelf.”

4. TROOP FUNDING: Joe Biden lied when he indicated that John McCain and Barack Obama voted the same way against funding the troops in the field. John McCain opposed a bill that included a timeline, that the President of the United States had already said he would veto regardless of it’s passage.

5. OPPOSING CLEAN COAL: Biden says he’s always been for clean coal, but he just told a voter that he is against clean coal and any new coal plants in America and has a record of voting against clean coal and coal in the U.S. Senate.

6. ALERNATIVE ENERGY VOTES: According to, Biden is exaggerating and overstating John McCain’s record voting for alternative energy when he says he voted against it 23 times.

7. HEALTH INSURANCE: Biden falsely said McCain will raise taxes on people’s health insurance coverage — they get a tax credit to offset any tax hike. Independent fact checkers have confirmed this attack is false

8. OIL TAXES: Biden falsely said Palin supported a windfall profits tax in Alaska — she reformed the state tax and revenue system, it’s not a windfall profits tax.

9. AFGHANISTAN / GEN. MCKIERNAN COMMENTS: Biden said that top military commander in Iraq said the principles of the surge could not be applied to Afghanistan, but the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force Gen. David D. McKiernan said that there were principles of the surge strategy, including working with tribes, that could be applied in Afghanistan.

10. REGULATION: Biden falsely said McCain weakened regulation — he actually called for more regulation on Fannie and Freddie.

11. IRAQ: When Joe Biden lied when he said that John McCain was “dead wrong on Iraq”, because Joe Biden shared the same vote to authorize the war and differed on the surge strategy where they John McCain has been proven right.

12. TAX INCREASES: Biden said Americans earning less than $250,000 wouldn’t see higher taxes, but the Obama-Biden tax plan would raise taxes on individuals making $200,000 or more.

13. BAILOUT: Biden said the economic rescue legislation matches the four principles that Obama laid out, but in reality it doesn’t meet two of the four principles that Obama outlined on Sept. 19, which were that it include an emergency economic stimulus package, and that it be part of “part of a globally coordinated effort with our partners in the G-20.”

14. REAGAN TAX RATES: Biden is wrong in saying that under Obama, Americans won’t pay any more in taxes then they did under Reagan.

And now onto the reactions.

Hugh Hewitt:

After the wave of assalts on her , Sarah Palin shows the nation why John McCain picked her and why the center-right loves her. She has a great night. Joe Biden does well too, but this was all about Sarah Palin, and she delivered a strong, strong message of energy and change.

The one great line of the debate: “It is so obvious that I am a Washington outsider,” Palin says, “soemone not used to the way you guys operate” as she points out Joe Biden’s attempt to doubletalk his way to Obama’s position.

Ramesh Ponnuru:

Any conservative who was white-knuckled going into this is relaxing by now. There were some points where she was a bit more platitudinous than one would ideally want, but overall–she’s cleaning up. Biden is sighing more as the night goes on, and I can see why.

Jim Geraghty:

My thinking is that it’s a tie or near-tie, which is very good news for Palin. Both played to their strengths. Biden was a bit less of a blowhard than I expected, but I’m pretty sure he got some basic facts wrong. His “I was taken out of context” excuse on the “no coal plants here in America” line is laughable. He had some classic Biden moments, confusing Articles I and II in the Constitution and saying America spent more in less than one month in Iraq than in seven years in Afghanistan” off by, oh, 2000%, says the Western Standard.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand… I was a Gloomy Gus heading into this. I continue to wonder how so many Americans were instantly triggered to a frothing rage by this woman’s debut on the national stage. But after some subpar television interviews, I braced for a rough debate.

Instead, she provided much crisper answers, much more professional. She didn’t seem overbriefed; in fact she was able to rattle off a level of policy detail that worked for the conversational style of her answers.

Did she pass the could-she-lead-in-a-time-of-crisis test? Let me put it this way. I could picture the woman on stage tonight leading in a crisis. I couldn’t picture the woman interviewed by Gibson and Couric doing that.

She’s a natural saleswoman. She certainly saved her prospects for national office in 2012, if she so chooses. She certainly, my guess is, reenergized the GOP base and independents, centrists, and undecided, if they’re honest with themselves, will conclude that they witnessed an impressive woman tonight. Many Democrats will continue to loathe her.

Erik Erickson:

Sarah Palin just field dressed Joe Biden like a moose. She was awesome. She connected with the people. She had fun. She was relaxed. She was awesome.

Biden literally blew this debate — sighing heavily in the microphone. Rolling his eyes. Being condescending. Flagrantly lying about policies that Palin repeatedly called him on.

Ifill herself did wind up showing her bias. She rarely gave Palin the last word. By the end of the debate it was almost 3 to 1 with Biden getting the last word. She also tried to disrupt Palin’s relationship with evangelicals by framing gay marriage around Alaska, mischaracterizing it too. LIkewise with global warming.

The line of the night will be “Say it ain’t so, Joe.” Palin was willing to break with the GOP and show how Biden and Obama have not ever broken with the Democrats.

She was smiling, gregarious, and clearly enjoying the night.

Michelle Malkin:

First, I would like to see all the Sarah doubters and detractors in the Beltway/Manhattan corridor eat their words.

Eat them.

Sarah Palin is the real deal. Five weeks on the campaign trail, thrust onto the national stage, she rocked tonight’s debate.

She was warm, fresh, funny, confident, energetic, personable, relentless, and on message. She roasted Obama’s flip-flops on the surge and tea-with-dictators declarations, dinged Biden’s bash-Bush rhetoric, challenged the blame-America defeatism of the Left, and exuded the sunny optimism that energized the base in the first place.

McCain has not done many things right. But Sarah Palin proved tonight that the VP risk he took was worth it.

Markos Moulitos from the Daily KOS:

Sarah Palin won!

Amanda Carpenter:

Palin was at her strongest debating Biden on foreign policy… Palin deftly reminded viewers, over and over, Biden had openly criticized Barack Obama’s positions on the war, funding and withdrawal throughout the Democratic primaries. “I watched those debates, so I know what that was about,” she grinned. She knowingly gave the media an open invitation to replay those old tapes against the contradictory statements he made this evening.

McCain camp:

“Tonight, Governor Palin proved beyond any doubt that she is ready to lead as Vice President of the United States. She won this debate, putting Joe Biden on defense on energy, foreign policy, taxes and the definition of change. Governor Palin laid bare Barack Obama’s record of voting to raise taxes, opposing the surge in Iraq, and proposing to meet unconditionally with the leaders of state sponsors of terror. The differences between the Obama-Biden ticket and the McCain-Palin ticket could not have been clearer. The American people saw stark contrasts in style and worldview. They saw Joe Biden, a Washington insider and a 36-year Senator, and Governor Palin, a Washington outsider and a maverick reformer. Governor Palin was direct, forceful and a breath of fresh air.” –Jill Hazelbaker, McCain-Palin 2008 Communications Director

Stop the ACLU:

Both Biden and Palin did considerably better then McCain and Obama did during their debate. Biden kept most of the cocky foot in mouth disease missing, but, some of his heavy breathing, and his near meltdown at the end is a small worry. Palin started out OK, but then really picked it up, matching life and executive experience with direct talk to middle America. Joe kept going back to Bush, Bush, Bush. All in all, they both worked it, but, Sarah was on topic, on point, and really wacked Joe with a stick. I saw him move a few times like she pulled out a Birch switch to the hamstrings a few time!

The Anchoress:

I thought both debaters helped their candidates a bit tonight, and I will always like Joe Biden, but I will call Palin the winner, first because she had to prove she is not the caricature being developed by the media, and she did that, but also because of the stunning consensus of the Frank Luntz audience in St. Louis, who declared her the hands-down winner and expressed a real connection. When I saw that audience response to Palin I thought: here in a nutshell is why the other side has worked so vociferously to destroy her, so quickly. What the folks in St. Louis were talking about tonight (and they said they now thought she was “qualified” to be president is what Camille Paglia saw in Palin’s first, informal speech at her introduction. Sarah Palin unfiltered, is a force to be reckoned with.

Mark Levin:

I have been involved in and observed politics for a long time. Governor Palin is a truly unique national figure. She is down to earth, personable, and smart as hell. That’s right. She has been on the national scene for a little over a month, she has been campaigning everywhere, she has had to bone up on all kinds of national issues, and she has shown class throughout. Too often too many are persuaded by the mainstream media’s opinion and react to that. This should be another lesson in that regard. As for some of her populist views, she cannot openly campaign against the positions of her presidential running mate. She is the bright light in this campaign from my perspective.

Kathryn Jean Lopez:

Sarah Palin won this debate and puts the campaign in a great position to rail against the media. Whatever she did before this debate — prayed? – is what she should always fall back on. And my impression is what she does. And why she’s come so far so fast.

Sarah Palin is the breath of fresh air on the political scene so many hoped she is. And she’ll be honored to beat the guy who’s been in the Senate since she was in the second grade.


Poor old Joe looked defeated and tired, spewing his talking points in repetition while Governor Palin appealed to mainstream Americans.

No colossal gaffes from either side, but I was struck by the odd look on Biden’s face. When did he have plastic surgery? He looks very strange now.

Paul Mirengoff:

I thought that Joe Biden and Sarah Palin were both excellent tonight. Biden hammered McCain relentlessly, which is the traditional role of the vice presidential candidate. Palin, forced by circumstances to prove her merit to an increasingly skeptical electorate, accomplished that mission and then some. Having done so, she is once again in a position to help the ticket by energizing the conservative base and appealing to at least a segment of the undecided vote.

From a technical standpoint, it was Biden who had the more detailed command of the facts (and the greater ability to fudge them). He was able not just to hammer McCain, but to do so at a level of specificity that Palin could not address. And, on occasion, Palin missed easy opportunities to defend her running mate. I got the sense that, while Palin was getting up to speed on the basic issues, Biden was being prepped for an all-out assault on McCain. Palin got in her share of his shots at Obama, and some of them were quite effective. But, as I suggested, she could not afford to be as single-minded as Biden because she had a greater need to sell herself. Nor, it seems, is it in her nature to be purely a hatchet-woman.


In any event, Sarah Palin deserves tremendous credit. Three of the four candidates in this race have been debating off and on for a year and a half. All of them performed quite well in their latest round. Palin was entirely out of the loop until about a month ago. Yet her performance was mostly equal, and in some ways superior to, that of McCain, Obama, and Biden.

Ramesh Ponnuru again:

The big loser tonight was Tina Fey.

John Hawkins:

Palin wins, gets more great soundbites off, reassures Americans that she’s up to the job, and helps the ticket about as much as she could have during the debate. All in all, I was very happy with her performance.

Jules Crittenden:

Palin on style, general lifelikeness, failure to drone, ability to speak in simple declarative sentences. Shout out to her peeps was big. Biden might have had it on substance, though with the constant droning about percentages, intermingled with mumbling about amendments and double-reverse voting intricacies, it’s impossible to tell. Game effort to note that once upon a time, he was a real person. He gets points for the choke-up moment, however.

Considered take: Palin, darting around in a cute little coupe, handles all the foreign policy curves nicely and even negotiates that gay-marriage oil spill to get the checkered flag. Approximately one zillion American viewers who have been told for the past two weeks she’s a tongue-tied ignoramous are now wondering why they ever paid any attention to that MSM Palin and most other Americans love to hate. Biden’s Oldsmobile spun out at the starting line, never quite got that engine chugging on all eight cylinders, took his turns a little wide but managed to avoid the rail. No crash, but then again, turns out she didn’t need him to.

Stephen Spruiell:

I thought Palin did well, even though she missed some big opportunities. For instance, when Biden blamed the mortgage meltdown on deregulation, Palin mouthed some platitudes about greed and predatory lenders. She should have responded that no financial players needed stronger regulation more than government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and that the Democrats consistently opposed any limitations on Fannie and Freddie’s activities. She did point out that McCain called for greater oversight of the GSEs in 2005, but I would have liked to have seen her convey in stronger terms the extent to which the GSEs caused this crisis, and how the Democrats bear a lot of responsibility for that.

Her folksiness was cloying at times, but no more so than Biden’s incessant references to his kitchen table and how much time he spends hanging out at Home Depot. And she dominated Biden on Iraq, because — like Hillary in those last few Obama-Clinton debates — he couldn’t come up with a convincing way to square his early support for the war with his later opposition to it. He found it even more difficult to square his shifting positions with Obama’s consistent opposition.

Andy McCarthy:

She’s the real deal. I admit: the bit about predatory lenders infuriated me, and I am concerned about her seeming adoption of Condi foreign policy. But both those positions are McCain’s positions — it’d be impossible for her to criticize them if she believed they should be criticized … I just wish she didn’t seem so enthusiastic about them.

All that said, though, she OWNED the last half of the debate, and when she — as a representative of normal people outside Washington — laughed at Biden for being for the war then being against the war, I thought she seemed in such total command she was wishing they could start the debate all over again. (And how moronic of Biden to counter that McCain voted against funding for the troops — does anyone on the planet earth outside the procedure-mongering Lilliputians on the Hill actually think McCain didn’t want the troops funded?)

Palin’s a star. Her instincts are practical and conservative, so I wish she weren’t so bound to McCain. (McCain should wish that too — that’s what’s made her so popular and given him a shot.) Watching her is fun. It’s like watching a rookie who’s taken the league by storm and is hitting .290, and you just know that in two years, she’ll be hitting .340 … while Biden is hitting .210 and belongs back in Double A.

Michael Graham:

For a typical American who had been convinced by the Partisan Press that Sarah Palin is an illiterate redneck who didn’t know Afghanistan from Alabama, she won this debate. She debated a geezer from the Washington establishment to a standstill and forced him into several erroneous statements (I would say “false,” but Sen. Biden talks so much without knowing what he’s talking about, he could be clueless rather than malicious).

Biden did vote for a war resolution. McCain did not vote, as Biden claimed, for the Obama tax hike. And Obama did absolutely nothing about the subprime mess at Fannie Mae except take record amounts of their money.

Sarah Palin wasn’t brilliant. She wasn’t able to adlib like Sen. Biden could to score additional points. She let quite a bit of Biden nonsense go unchallenged.

But six weeks into the race, she went toe-to-toe with a guy who’s run for president twice, and she held her own and even pushed him around a few times.

For the average voter, content was a wash which means this ended up as a personality contest. Which means she wins.

And that means John McCain goes into the next debate on a level playing field. She didn’t leave him in a hole.

Dick Morris on FOX:

This was an unbelievable win for Sarah Palin. In fact, I think it reveals a level of skill in communication that I really haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan. She is a superstar.

Peggy Noonan:

She killed. She had him at “Nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe?” She was the star. He was the second male lead, the good-natured best friend of the leading man.

Sarah Palin saved John McCain again Thursday night. She is the political equivalent of cardiac paddles: Clear! Zap! We’ve got a beat! She will re-electrify the base. More than that, an hour and a half of talking to America will take her to a new level of stardom. Watch her crowds this weekend. She’s about to get jumpers, the old political name for people who are so excited to see you they start to jump.

David Brooks:

On Thursday night, Palin took her inexperience and made a mansion out of it. From her first “Nice to meet you. May I call you Joe?” she made it abundantly, unstoppably and relentlessly clear that she was not of Washington, did not admire Washington and knew little about Washington. She ran not only against Washington, but the whole East Coast, just to be safe…

More to come…

An audience member holds up a sign during a town hall meeting with U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in Denver, Colorado October 2, 2008. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)

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