Palin's Big Night
Whenever I watch a debate, the first thing I do when it’s over is to head off to National Review Online or Ace of Spades or Instapundit or some conservative blog, to find out who won. I can never tell—invariably, I think the candidates I like do well, and those I don’t do poorly. My opinions on these issues are never right, at least compared to the popular view.
So when I concluded tonight that Palin was getting absolutely crushed, I thought that was a bad sign. (Remember, the candidates I like never lose, at least in my mind). She didn’t do anything right—I thought her opening “can I call you Joe?” was overly saccharine, her responses awful and nonsensical, and her demeanor poor. Her whole bearing seemed to scream out that she wasn’t anywhere near ready for the vice presidency. I expected the blogosphere to be equally gloomy.
Huh? Nearly every conservative blog thought Palin won? Instapundit thought both candidates did okay, Malkin thought Palin won, Ann Althouse thought Palin won, Jim Treacher thought Palin won, and Frank Lunz’s focus group thought Palin dominated. The National Review people are in her corner too—Mark Levin, who isn’t a big McCain fan, gushed over her, Katherine Jean Lopez (not the hardest person to impress, but still) loved her, and Ramesh Ponnuru thought she did quite well.
Liberals thought she won too. Andrew Sullivan (who is perhaps the most crazed Obama supporter on the Internet) though Palin won. Even the Huffington Post seemed impressed—their Palin-bashing seemed listless and obligatory.
So I guess I was wrong—Palin won. If the conventional wisdom holds up, there will be a substantial shift in the polls towards McCain. He’ll get a bump, conservatives will be elated, and then his bounce will subside, throwing conservatives into gloom. If the pundits are right about Palin’s victory, this is good news for conservatives, and will let McCain live to fight another day.
I have some observations about the debate, but there seems to be little point in sharing them, given the fact that everybody seems to disagree with nearly all of them. So I’ll just give my perceptions of the people involved.
Sarah Palin isn’t ready for the vice presidency. In fact, judging from her performance tonight, I’m not sure she’s ready for the governorship of Alaska. Her answers were canned, empty, and often meaningless—what you would get if someone mixed up a bunch of talking points. I have absolutely no idea of why everyone thinks she won. My judgment on these matters isn’t very good—but I’ve never been this wrong before. [NOTE: As I write this, the judgments keep pouring in from the NRO people. They are unanimous in their opinion that Palin won]
I can’t help but like Joe Biden. His political positions, of course, are radically different from mine, he is gaffe-prone, and his command of reality is limited (although the press really hasn’t covered it, he has his own version of Hillary’s “sniper fire” story). But I do think he is an honorable man, and one who truly cares about America. Tonight, he reminded voters that John McCain’s sons are serving in Iraq—a classy move, since McCain rarely reveals that fact. Biden would be a bad vice president—but he’s a good man.
There was a lot of controversy about Gwen Ifill, who is writing a book about the “Age of Obama,” serving as moderator. I thought she did fine—she seemed fair, and her questions didn’t seem to favor either side.
So Palin won. That’s good, I suppose, but I shudder to think of her next debate.