Palin had a lot of ground to make up after her amateur-hour interviews with Katie Couric, which she tried to write-off by saying, "I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media kind of telling viewers what they've just heard." But Palin came off looking like a beauty pageant contestant (something she actually does have experience doing) earnestly pressing the case that she understands world issues. Where Biden gave serious, detailed answers to questions, she offered an anecdote and skipped right past the substance to offer nonspecific, generic, lightweight responses.
Her other strategy was to just ignore the questions altogether on issues including global warming, an Iraq exit strategy, the nuclear threat in Pakistan v. Iran, Bush policy failures in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and her "Achilles heel" - a lack of experience. She contemptuously stated, " I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also." I think the point of a debate is that you answer the question you're asked, not freestyle discussions that suit you.
Palin's annoying colloquialisms were off the Richter scale last night. Every answer was peppered with a "you betcha", "darn right", "bless their heart", "doggone it" or a reference to Joe Six Pack and hockey moms. But her attempt at folksiness couldn't hide the fact that she doesn't know squat about major issues and that holds scary beliefs like the Constitution gives her "flexible" powers as VP (something Cheney ascribes to) or that climate change isn't man made. Palin said, "I'm not one to attribute every man -- activity of man to the changes in the climate."
Some glaring examples of Palin's lightweight answers include her reponse to Gwen Ifill's question about whether Bush's policy with Israel and Palestine had been an abject failure:
What kind of answer is that to one of the most pressing issues of the day? Another gem was her response to Ifill's questions about nuclear interventionism. Besides being unable to pronounce the word "nuclear", like George Bush, Palin gave an inane answer to a serious question:
IFILL: Governor, on another issue, interventionism, nuclear weapons. What should be the trigger, or should there be a trigger, when nuclear weapons use is ever put into play?
PALIN: Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be all, end all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period.
Palin also tried to distance herself and McCain from the Bush administration while Biden kept pointing out their similarities. During one exchange, Palin said:
Palin's ridiculous example of education being a cornerstone of a McCain-Palin administration isn't viable. McCain has one of the worst records on education spending/advancement and has voted down nearly every bill that would raise standards and provide additional opportunities like pre-K and after school programs.
So while the Republicans are spinning Palin's performance as a victory, the truth is she did nothing to prove her qualifications and grasp of the issues. Send this hockey mom back to the $15 million ice rink she built in Wasilla so we can get on with the serious business of turning this country around.