I couldn’t bring myself to consume the entire VP debate last night. I watched some, I listened some, and then I retreated and skimmed some of the post-debate commentary.
What I heard last night was Sarah Palin all but ignoring the questions she was asked, clumsily transitioning to talking points on often unrelated subjects, and then messily vomiting out a burst of prepackaged buzzwords. The commentary suggests that was pretty much how the whole debate went.
I’m not suprised by her MO, and I’m not surprised that she looked better in the debate than she did in interviews. Interviewers have more latitude to probe her. While I was listening, Biden did a pretty good job of pointing out how evasive she was, but he had to balance that against, well, actually answereing questions.
This is not to say that Biden, like all politicians, didn’t tend to answer the questions he wanted to be asked, rather than the question he was asked, but at least his answers were on roughly the same subject as the questions. Palin was so often answering completely different questions. It was like she answered “I can play flute!” when asked about global warming. It’s like she has no respect for the interviewer, or any of the audience either.
In the end, nothing about her performance reassured me about her competence and ability. She still reminds me of Bush in a skirt: over confident, under competent.
I hope Palin will do a few more interviews before the election. Unless she was outright faking in her earlier interviews, I don’t think she’ll be able to hide behind her “strengths.”.
It may not matter though, it’s hard to imagine that future interviews will attract as much attention as the first set of intervews, or the debate, and so it seems, to the casual observer, her performance in the debate may redeem her. It is doubtful that that will be enough to save John McCain, but it may be enough for her to climb another rung on the political ladder, and that seems to be what’s most important to the sort of person who believes their own bullshit.