Bo Shuff

It's Debatable...

Filed By Bo Shuff | October 01, 2008 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: general election, Joe Biden, McCain/Palin, palin, Sarah Palin, vice president, vice presidential debates, VP

The polls coming in over the weekend are showing a bump for Obama coming out of the debate last week. He has drawn closer in Florida and Ohio and seems to be solidifying some of the previously "lean democrat" states. This is good news, as the debates in 2000 and 2004 proved to be poisonous to the Democrats.

My prediction for Thursday - Palin wins the debate.

I know that this is not a popular opinion to carry among Democrats and maybe not even the prevailing wind. That being said, Biden has a tall order on Thursday.

Biden has eons of experience in the Senate and in politics in general. That means he is expected to be far more polished and professional than Palin. In addition, he has to come off as statesmanlike, not combative or petty at all. If he is seen as beating up on Palin, or as casual at all, it will be a loss.

I think back to Bentsen v. Quayle as the best comparison. Bentsen's line won the night and he carried himself as the far more senior statesman that night. McCain had the same opportunity last week, but came off as whiny and condescending with the number of times he referred to Obama as not knowing anything, not being experienced and being naive. His attacks had some merit to them, but were easily dismissed by the public who simply do not agree that Obama isn't smart.

This election is about change and in the Palin/Biden matchup, Palin represents change. In addition, the expectations of her performance are so low that there is very little way she cannot meet them.

Most importantly, however, is that it is all about audience. Palin's purpose is to do two things. First, get evangelical voters back into the McCain fold. Second, peel off even 5% of women. I expect Palin to come off as a right wing hockey mom, a role that is easy for her to fill. She will adopt a tone that will attempt to make her seem just like every mother and woman who is raising kids and trying to put food on the table. I expect her to dismiss questions that she doesn't know the answers to by shifting the conversation over to home spun issues that she can answer. There will be no more "I can see Russia from my house" type comments. She will be incredibly well coached on 4 or 5 different subjects and all of her answers will shift back to those. If she can stay on that message the polls after the debate will show a shift back to McCain among key constituencies.

Joe Biden must bring the gravitas to the ticket that he was hired to bring. He must use his skills as a debater to eviscerate her while coming off as a nice guy. He must blunt the attacks that are likely to come from the pit-bull with lipstick not by attacking back but by parrying them off and staying on topic, and he must not say anything dumb that can become the talking point the 5 minutes after.

Good luck Joe. We are counting on ya.

(Crossposted at bearsleft.com)


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It frustrates me to no end that the author of the Violence Against Women Act is in danger of being "seen as beating up on Palin."

Bo, I think your comments about tomorrow night's debate are spot on. I'm crossing my fingers and saying my prayers for a good outcome.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 2, 2008 5:11 AM

Well said. May he be lethal, likable and humble.

Agreed. I've said the same thing for days now. We know - no matter what - that will be Republican mantra for the next few days as they attempt to sway the public with a PR campaign.

I live in mid-Iowa, albeit a university town. However, there are a lot of right-wing conservative religious women around (usually with their husbands) and the only ones I hear who like Palin are the old men. The women sneer at the mention of her name. I noticed that all the comments above were written by men. Sorry to say, women are not impressed by Palin, regardless of her motherhood and conservative religious views, very important to Iowa women. The "vagina vote" is not automatically going to her and McCain.

It is not that she is a woman, it is that she is a religio-facist nut job without two brain cells to rub together and an agenda that would make a nazi jump with joy.

Too many people mistake religious conviction for intelligence and moral leadership. You do not have to be all that smart to parrot what your preacher tells you, and a cursory look into her past will reveal all you need to know about her ethics and morality.