The Vice-Presidential debate

So what did you think?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Carl Vehse

    Ann Coulter noted: “MSNBC CALLING PALIN ‘MEAN’ – I guess our beauteous Sarah won.”

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I thought she did fine.
    Biden sounded old school, plus he fibbed.
    She sounded like a person grounded in what she believes.
    I wish McCain had her spunk.

  • http://danieldavies.us Daniel

    I thought Palin held her own, but wish she would have been stronger on some issues. For instance, the moderator offered the false dichotomy of “who is to blame for the current crisis- the greedy people on Wall St. or irresponsible homeowners buying too much house for their income?” or something like that. Palin answered along the lines of “of course it’s the greed on Wall St.” I think she should have said “Look, John McCain and the GOP have been trying to reign in Fammie and Freddie for years, and Joe and his Democrat friends in the Senate have refused to allow it. Barack Obama is the 3rd highest recipient of Fannie and Freddie campaign contributions, and the man in charge of picking Obama’s VP was a former head of Fannie who fled the company with millions of dollars in is pocket. The Congress forced lenders into accepting these sub-prime mortgages, and now the American people are being asked to pay for it. It’s time for reform and getting rid of the good-old-boy network in DC and John McCain and I have proven reform credentials and are ready to do the job.”

  • Anon

    Biden was very smooth, ready for the questions before the Dem campaigner was done asking them.

    But he outright lied at least 14 times, and made numerous errors of facts, ranging from which article of the Constitution was which, to which country in Africa the Darfur was in.

    He ought to be called on it. Along with seeing President Roosevelt on TV in 1929 talking about the Great Depressoin, and Obama’s 57 States. Is he ready for the vice presidency?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Much the same as I felt after the McCain-Obama debate: I doubt it’s going to win any new fans for either ticket, as each side did reasonably well. That said, I think the Presidential candidates did a better job of staying on topic, and Palin especially went out of her way to not answer a few questions (the bankruptcy one pops to mind, where she once again decided to talk about energy — not that I agreed with Biden’s vote on that bankruptcy bill).

    But most people were interested in whether Palin would look horrible, and she didn’t, so I’m sure the Republican base is happy and the far-left disappointed. Oh well. But then, Biden didn’t do as poorly as many on the right were hoping for, either.

    No one has thus far brought up the whole “Ifill’s questions were biased” topic — did your prognostications not work out, or do you not want to complain since Palin did okay? I thought she did fine, if maybe erred by asking questions no one was going to seriously answer (How do you disagree with your running mate? What is your greatest weakness? Everyone knows the answer to the latter one is “I care too much, Gwen.”)

    It seemed like Palin was especially pouring on the folksy charm, intermixed with a strong emphasis on the Maverick(tm) brand. I have to assume this was a conscious emphasis on the campaign’s part, but of course it only caused me to roll my eyes repeatedly. But then, it almost certainly wasn’t aimed at me, anyhow. I mean, seriously, “Americans are cravin’ that Straight Talk(tm)!”? Sounds like an advertisement tagline. Anyhow, McCain’s about as much a Maverick as Steve Nash.

    I would like to know what Palin meant by

    I’m thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president’s policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are.

    Maybe it’s just me, but when a Republican mentions the Constitution in context with the phrase “more authority”, I get nervous.

    On the “totally not important” front (i.e. that which will no doubt be covered by the 24-hour news media), Palin (mis)pronounces “nuclear”, just like Bush — which is odd, given how their campaign has gone out of its way to distance themselves from him. Also, Joe Biden needs to use pronouns to refer to Joe Biden. And Palin implied that she thinks Reagan was the first to refer to a “city on a hill”.

    Anon (@4), I know you’re not one to wrongly accuse someone of lying unless you have proof, so you will of course tell us what those 14 (or more) lies were, won’t you?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anon (@4), but while I’m waiting on that list of “lie[s]“, I’ll start in on your list of “errors of facts” from the debate.

    You said Biden made an error as to “which country in Africa the Darfur was in”. Unless you can point to a different place in the debate where Biden mentioned Darfur, you seem to be mentioning his statement that “I’ve been in those camps in Chad.” If you think he’s saying that Darfur is in Chad, then I question your knowledge of the situation. With just a quick Google search, I was able to confirm that many of the refugee camps that are a result of the conflict in Darfur are, in fact, in Chad, which is next door to Sudan.

    You also said Biden erred in referring to “which article of the Constitution was which”. The only thing this could refer to is Biden’s statement, when talking about Cheney, that “Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that’s the Executive Branch.” Here, Biden is right that Article I does spell out the Vice President’s role … as a tie-breaker. And he is right that the Constitution makes clear the Vice President belongs to the Executive branch. But, of course, it does so in Article II. So muddled at best, half-right at worst.

    I do hope your list of Biden’s “lie[s]” is a little more bulletproof.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Whoops, meant to link (@6) to Wikipedia’s article on the war in Darfur for further reading on why Chad is relevant.

  • PHW

    I thought Palin did a very good job last night. They need to continue coaching her on policy issues, but I think the hysterical left is quite disappointed this morning. She held her own against a talker. I think it became quite clear last night that Biden was picked only for his massive experience (aka years in the Senate) because of Obama’s inexperience.

  • truth seeker

    I like Sarah Palin and wanted her to do well, but I don’t think she really answered most of the questions, she danced around them. Biden wasn’t very impressive either, but I thought he did slightly better.

  • http://www.stjohnsmontello.org Richard Janke

    There should be new rules for the election. Only Joseph Biden and Sarah Palin are on the ballot. The winner is president the loser is vice-president. If I remember my history well enough I think this is not without precedent. Send this on to your legislative representatives to tell them how you feel.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I like her talking past ‘the MSM’ to the country, and I like her positiveness.
    She and McCain should answer their mantra of ‘we will end this war’ with ‘we will win it.’ Period.
    I’m eager to see the day Sarah Palin is a national candidate in her own right, not tied to a mitigating top of the ticket. She does McCain plenty of justice; so far, he’s done her precious little.

  • TK

    My gut reaction: she knocked one out of the park. It really was a best case scenario, given that she remained true to who she is.

  • TK

    tODD, do you really know NO ONE like her? I’m from Minnesota and have spent many years in small northern and southern Minnesota towns. That’s not a conscious effort at folksy charm…it’s her. I know so many people who sound exactly like her…kinda rambling, but very intelligent.

  • TK

    I read somewhere recently that John McCain received the “maverick” label from Democrats based on McCain’s bucking of the mainstream GOP platform/agenda. Can anyone point me to some documentation on that? Just try Googling McCain and Maverick – the results are NOT helpful!

  • Don S

    My reaction was that, finally, there is a Republican on the national scene who knows how to articulately communicate optimism and an individualist spirit directly to the American people, over the heads of the MSM. Her comment that we are, in part, all responsible for our current economic straits, and that it is our responsibility never to find ourselves in these circumstances again, was a breath of fresh air. Her insistence on answering the questions the way she wanted to answer them, and not necessarily the way her liberal opponent and the liberal moderator wanted them answered was also important.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Remarkably with little experience in national affairs Gov. Palin held her own well with Sen. Biden who has had thirty-five years such experience. She, also, proved to be a bright, stylish lady with a down to earth heartland style style. Palin put to rest the canard that nshe is some sort of a bumpkin.

  • http://www.rebelliouspastorswife.blogspot.com Rebellious Pastor’s Wife

    Don’t get me wrong, I like Palin. I was excited when she was chosen. She did well for 5 weeks on the national scene, and she did hold her own against Biden…but she did so using a shallow coverage of most of the topics and slogans. Rather than really answering questions, she went back to “In a McCain-Palin presidency, you will be sure we won’t let this happen” type of approach. And honestly, the Maverick schtick was great for the convention, but I think it is time someone bought the Republican campaign a thesaurus, or that they started talking about how they are going to be mavericks, especially in light of McCain throwing his full support behind an economic bailout that doesn’t have any economists behind it, is LOADED with pork, and is a panic reaction — and the epitome of Washington government as we know it.

    Sorry, this is a week that leaves me terribly impatient with slogans and a superficial approach to solutions, both in Congress and on the debate floor.

  • http://www.rebelliouspastorswife.blogspot.com Rebellious Pastor’s Wife

    let me rephrase that second sentence: She did well in the debate for only having been in the national scene for five weeks.

  • Bruce

    tODD #6: I thought Gwen Ifill was fair and unbiased in the debates last night.

    Not having done any fact-checking, I thought both candidates did an adequate job. Nobody knocked anything out of any park in my opinion. If Obama-leaning independents had concerns about that ticket’s readiness to handle foreign affairs, Biden went a long way toward easing those concerns. That was obviously his strong suit. Not surprisingly, Palin was out of her league in foreign affairs.

    OTOH, my wife, who tends to be more a more objective thinker than I am, thought Palin did very, very well and that Biden looked and sounded old and unimpressive. So.

  • Bruce

    Anon #4: Look, if you’re going to accuse a man of outright lying in public, then you really need to come at us with facts. I’m with tODD on this: either repent of this sinful behavior or rephrase your comments by detailing where Biden lied.

    How do you know Biden lied and didn’t just misspeak? Take a look at the eighth commandment, and then take a look in the mirror.

    I don’t care for Joe Biden, and won’t vote for his ticket. But it is this sort of inflammatory language that we want to discourage here.

  • jgernander

    tODD (#5), I did catch your NBA reference. In case anyone else didn’t know it, Steve Nash is a 2-time Most Valuable Player for the Phoenix Suns, but before that he played (quite well, but not well enough for the owner) for the Dallas Mavericks. That’s going back a few years now, tODD. Are you a fan of any particular team? Training camp is starting now … My favorite time of year is just about here (once the NBA gets closer to the regular season) — when college football, NFL, baseball playoffs and the NBA are all going on simultaneously. Oh, I guess the NHL will also.

    Thought it was time to hijack the discussion for sports. Always one of my favorite diversions.

    jgernander

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    TK (@13), I guess we can chalk it up to a Midwest thing, then? I was born and raised in Dallas, spent several years in Houston, and have lived for quite a while in Portland, Oregon.

    I speak for many of my Portland friends when I say that her manner seemed not merely folksy, but unprofessional. I don’t care if she talks like that when she’s with friends, but when she pours such mannerisms into what is effectively a job interview … yikes. She seemed to have consciously chosen that style for communicating: “I’m not a politician! I’m just like you!” Unfortunately, the “you” she was aiming at was several thousand miles inland, I guess. Not that Palin had a chance on the West Coast, anyhow.

    Don (@15), “Her insistence on answering the questions the way she wanted to answer them, and not necessarily the way her liberal opponent and the liberal moderator wanted them answered was also important.” Mm-hmm. And no doubt you’d also be thrilled if, in the next debate, Obama just ignores the questions and talks about whatever he feels like, too. Or, the next time you’re interviewing someone for a job — you’d like it then, too, right?

    Jgernander (@21), sorry, but I used up most of my sports knowledge with that allusion. But I’m slightly more familiar with the Mavs because I grew up in Dallas (though back when they were perennially terrible).

    And what’s that you say? Steven Nash also used to be a Maverick at one point, but hasn’t been one for years? What a coincidence.

  • Carl Vehse

    The Freerepublic website has some comments on the Ifill bias from last night’s debate.

    One of the Freerepublic commenters also noted this question Ifill asked:

    IFILL: OK, our time is up here. We’ve got to move to the next question. Senator Biden, we want to talk about taxes, let’s talk about taxes. You proposed raising taxes on people who earn over $250,000 a year. The question for you is, why is that not class warfare and the same question for you, Governor Palin, is you have proposed a tax employer health benefits which some studies say would actually throw five million more people onto the roles of the uninsured. I want to know why that isn’t taking things out on the poor, starting with you, Senator Biden.

    That’s the ol’ “some studies say” routine on a convoluted question Ifill seems to have been rewriting on the fly.

    Elsewhere, before the debate began Fred Thompson cornered a reporter who had refused to acknowledge Gwen Ifill’s evidence of bias by asking the reporter:

    “The moderator has a financial interest in Barack 0bama becoming president… Does she not have a book coming out [on Inauguration Day]? Do you not think there will be more book sales if 0bama is President?”

  • mamaof2

    I thought that Palin did a great job, especially in light of the incredible bashing of her that the main stream media has been engaged in. Maybe you all have seen this–if not take a look:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/print/?q=ZmU3YzIyZDU1ZTM2OTc1MTI0Mzc3Njc3ODFmYzZjNWY=

  • utahrainbow

    I agree RPW! They DO need a thesaurus! You’ve articulated it in a way that I was struggling to find words for, I just sort of frowned and shrugged through the thing. Maybe I need a thesaurus, too.

    Yes, the slogans and shallowness are especially uncomfortable in light of the last week. And I agree with tODD @ 5, too, I’m not deciding between Coke or Pepsi, sheesh, it’s the president of the U.S. ! Out west here Maverick is already a tm, a gas station chain. “Adventure’s first stop!”

    Maybe what I’m craving is not Coke or Pepsi, but some fresh squeezed orange juice (no tm)

  • Anon

    When I do a search on Yahoo for Biden and 14 lies, I get more than *71 pages* of search results. Some aren’t germain, but most of them on the first dozen or so pages of hits, are.

    Does your understanding of the 8th Commandment tell you that you should not give me the benefit of the doubt, or do any research yourself before accusing me of sin?

    http://www.johnmccain.com/mccainreport/

    Now, are you going to do what you (falsely) claim I did in response to that one instance? Dick Morris (wasn’t he formerly with the Clinton Administration?) and a number of others have said similar things on-air.

    So, aren’t these accusations of yours; crocodile tears? Isn’t this false witness against me, and not a zeal for the Commandments of God?

    What say you?

  • Anon

    Gwen Ifill was not fair and unbiased last night. She chose the questions, and they were ones that the Democrats are pushing their campaign in.

    I don’t know if anyone has yet done any measurements, but it was my impression that Ifill consistently shut Palin up in mid-word, whereas she always gave Biden permission to keep going on beyond the time limit.

    Biden seemed to be expecting each question on cue, as if he knew that was the next question ahead of time. Not just smoothness and experience, but knowing what was next. Did it seem this way to anyone else?

    Afterwards, when the candidates greeted Ifill at the conclusion, the mikes were on. She ‘sympathized’ with Palin saying “that was hard, wasn’t it?” but to Biden she said “good job, Senator, good job!”

    I think that the appropriate response to this Democrat-rigged debate would be for Palin to challenge Biden – or better yet Obama – to a debate moderated by another book-writer with a book out on Obama – the guy that Obama is so afraid of that he has his believers threaten lawsuits against any radio station that dares interview the author, Jerome Corsi, of _Obama Nation_.

    Now, that would be fair and balanced to Ifill (I’m confident that the author would actually be able to not spin things the way Ifill did, so it wouldn’t really be so fair and balanced, but it would be something)

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I don’t know about all that you cited, Anon. She did give Biden the last word more often than not. But I can’t attribute that to bias. Sometimes the way the cookie crumbles is just the way the cookie crumbles.
    She seemed dispassionate enough for my tastes. I never expected anything more from any moderator from legacy media. None would’ve done any better, been any fairer, and certainly could’ve been less fair.
    In the end, it’s the candidate’s job to rise above whatever moderator or tone of question, or to use any advantage given. In that respect, each candidate did the necessary thing.

  • Bruce

    Ok, Anon. Ok. Let me make a suggestion. Instead of your using what I think is obvious inflammatory language by saying “…But he outright lied at least 14 times…”, I would ask that you simply point out to us where he lied and how he did it. Then we would have a basis for rational discussion. But to simply throw it out there with no effort on your part to back it up–until you are called on it (more about that below)–does not appear to be putting the situation in any sort of honest and useful light.

    And now, when you do go about defending yourself, you ask your readers to go do some googling or to link to a site that seems to have an interest in making it appear that Biden may have lied. I would suggest a better way–one which would actually promote your argument–would be to just simply state chapter and verse of where you think Biden lied, and then let your readers decide for themselves. Otherwise, it makes it appear as though you have a very different agenda.

    Further, your statement that Biden lied is contradictory. Did he lie “outright”–implying clear, no holds barred, obvious-to-anyone lying–14 times, or AT LEAST 14 times? If he lied–a terrible charge to make if you wish your readers to care at all about your argument–it ought to be plain for anyone to see, and it would be a specific number, not “at least”. You ought to be able to see what that implies. Biden may well have been doing something that it seems every candidate does in election debates–just telling a part of the truth. If that is lying, then they are all a pack of liars. Hmmm. Could be.

    Finally, I did not mean to actually accuse you of sin. I asked that you repent of your sinful behavior or provide us with 14, at least, specific lies. I asked that you not let a terrible unsubstantiated statement stand on its own on this blog.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anon (@4), I guess I’d assumed you were doing your own thinking in counting those 14 lies, not merely propagating the McCain campaign’s material. That’s your right, but you do understand why the direct output of a campaign is not going to be assumed to be unbiased (or even accurate), right?

    But the main problem for you reusing that material is that in so doing, you’ve accused Biden of having “outright lied”. Now, I expect campaigns to make accusations of lying, back and forth, every day.

    But I expect better of Christians. As you know, when you as a Christian accuse someone of lying, you’d better know what you’re talking about. I am sad to report that McCain’s Joe Biden’s 14 Lies does not rise to our professed standard. (Nor did much of what was said at the debate last night, but by lobbing the “outright lied” claim yourself, you’ve dragged yourself down into it.)

    Since you didn’t do your own thinking on this claim, I won’t spend my time rebutting it, instead referring you to FactCheck.org’s analysis [1]. Some of it upholds McCain’s claims, some of it doesn’t. But many/most of the McCain talking points could not, in good conscience, form the basis of a claim by a Christian that Biden “lied”.

    Now to another of your claims (@4) “Biden was very smooth, ready for the questions before the Dem campaigner was done asking them,” as well as (@27) “Biden seemed to be expecting each question on cue, as if he knew that was the next question ahead of time. Not just smoothness and experience, but knowing what was next.”

    It sounds like you’re pushing another talking point from somewhere, but even if this is your own opinion, can you truly dare to accuse (or, let’s say you think you’re not “accusing” him, just … implying) Biden of having cheated (and lied), and have the audacity to hide behind the Eighth Commandment for yourself (@26)? Really? Is Biden not afforded what the Eighth Commandment would have us protect, but your every accusation, warranted or not, is?

    Finally, I have no idea what this paragraph (@26) meant:

    “Now, are you going to do what you (falsely) claim I did in response to that one instance? Dick Morris (wasn’t he formerly with the Clinton Administration?) and a number of others have said similar things on-air.”

    “That one instance”? “A number of others have said similar things”? For goodness’ sake, man, use specifics! And please do use direct address, so we can know what “you” you’re talking to.

    [1] “FactChecking Biden-Palin Debate” by Brooks Jackson, Viveca Novak, Lori Robertson, Joe Miller, Jessica Henig and Justin Bank, FactCheck.org, 10/3/2008

  • Carl Vehse

    The Biden Error/Lie/Hallucination List is up to 22 now.

    Given Gov. Palin’s comment – “I appreciate, too, Senator Biden, getting to meet you, finally, also, and getting to debate with you. And I would like more opportunity for this.” – maybe the moderator next time can be someone like Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, or Laura Ingraham. Now that would be an interesting debate!

  • J

    Carl, did Palin say last night that she supported gay rights?

  • Don S

    tODD @ 22: What I meant by that comment is that debates tend to be focused on issues that liberals find appealing. Gwen Ifil is professional enough, and fair enough in her demeanor, but she does not have a worldview which will lead her to ask many questions from the right. Most debate questions in these formats are asked from the left. Palin’s job was to communicate over the heads of Biden and Ifil and the rest of MSM and Washington establishment directly to the people who would be disposed to consider voting for her ticket (hint — very few of them live in Portland, OR, to answer your earlier post). She is not going to make hay spending 90 minutes talking about whether global warming is real or getting in the weeds with Biden, the ultimate wonk, discussing intricate wonk policy details. That’s what made Reagan so great. He bypassed the media and was able to communicate directly with the public, reminding us of what makes America so great and giving us an optimistic vision of the future in a land of the free. Refreshing to see that again in a next-gen politician.

  • Michael the little boot

    Carl,

    I just perused the comments, and noticed you brought up Ann Coulter twice. Why would you refer to one of the worst examples from the conservative side? Lying is her stock-in-trade.

  • Michael the little boot

    I think both candidates played to their people. Neither side probably converted anyone. I did find it interesting that Biden had more of substance to say. He cited actual figures, spoke about things that actually happened in the Senate. While Palin FAR from fell flat on her face, she was pretty thin on substance. She did much better than I expected just by getting through the debate without having a “freaked-out pause moment” as she did in her interview with Katie Couric. But she didn’t knock one out of the park. I find using that kind of language difficult in this context, since it’s a totally different “ballgame,” if you will, than talking sports. You can say who won a game, as there are ways of quantifying this. There’s no way to quantify opinion. So one must go with substance, and, in that light, I find it funny anyone is saying Palin won.

  • FW

    imagine mc cain or obama repeatedly smiling and winking at you in a debate.

    how creepy would that be?

  • john

    Palin’s limited experience as a state governor and her poor grasp of policy is not reassuring. I’m deeply worried by the prospect of Joe six pack becoming president.

  • Don S

    Frank @ 36: It would be very creepy, because for both of them it would be a weird faked effect. Good thing that, instead, it was Palin doing it, and it is part of her personality, so is just charming and engaging.

  • Bruce

    John #37: It would seem logical then that you are even more concerned about Obama’s total lack of executive experience and the radical background from which he has sprung? Remember: if elected, he’ll be the one calling the shots.


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