Sarah Palin Wins Debate by Darn

The vice-presidential debates proved one thing. At the very least, Sarah Palin can be trained.

For several days, she had camped out in one of John McCain’s Arizona houses, where she underwent Debate Boot camp conducted by drill instructors who make Marine DIs appear to be slaggers.

With a few “darns,” “betchas,” and “ya”s, Palin managed to get all her talking points into the debate, even if she constantly changed the question to suit her note cards.

During the 90-minute debate, Palin six times referred to her experience as the mayor of a 6,000 resident village. Seven times, she specifically mentioned Ahmadinejad. Iran’s president, proud she knew the name, proud that she could pronounce it. No one asked if she knew his first name or anything else about him. Shades of George W. Bush in his first term trying to prove he knew something about foreign affairs by enunciating the names of a few world leaders?after several gaffes early in the campaign. Of course, twice Palin was wrong about the name of the U.S. commander in Iraq. Several times she noted she and John McCain are mavericks. About the sixth time she mentioned it, Joe Biden finally unleashed his debating skills. John McCain is no maverick he said in measured response. The Republican nominee voted with President Bush four times to extend the budget deficit, said Biden, who also pointed out that McCain went along with Bush on numerous health care and education issues, most of which were regressive rather than progressive, was one of the strongest backers of going to war with Iraq, and opposed tax cuts.

Palin’s answers were mostly glittering generalities as she peppered numerous responses with cheerleader messages about America, and even tossed in Reagan’s “shining city” example, and punctuated another response to Biden with a Reaganesque, “Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again.” Her responses, after awhile, seemed to be more acceptable to a beauty contest than a vice-presidential debate.

Both Palin and Biden had a few factual errors, with Palin ahead in the count of misstatements, discrepancies, and outright lies, according to, a non-partisan source at the University of Pennsylvania. Possibly Palin’s biggest problem, and something that should coincern every voter, was that she bumbled on the constitutional definition of the role of the vice-president, something Biden quickly corrected.

Nevertheless, Palin came across as confident, charming, and folksy, even giving America three on-camera winks. She successfully muted her previous blunders in interviews with TV news anchors Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, where she claimed Alaska provides 20 percent of the nation’s energy (it’s only 3.5 percent), revealed the only Supreme Court case she knows is Roe v. Wade, that like President Bush she probably isn’t much of a reader, believes she knows foreign affairs because Russia is a few miles from Alaska, and disguised her lack of knowledge of vice-presidents by claiming George H. W. Bush was the vice-president she admired the most because he “kind of learned the ropes in his position as VP and then moving on up.” In that same interview, responding to a question about what was the worst quality of the current vice-president, Joe Biden said it was shredding the Constitution; Sarah Palin said it was “the duck hunting accident.”

In the debate, Biden threw specifics after specifics. Almost every major online newspaper poll gave Biden the win, especially among undecided voters, with several polls showing him scoring in the 70s and 80s. The CNN poll showed that about 51 percent thought Biden did a better job, while 36 percent supported Palin. At MSNBC, it was 78 percent for Biden. Even the conservative Wall Street Journal readers polled online gave Biden 52 percent. The ultra conservative Drudge Report, however, gave Palin the lead at 68 percent.

But, this was also a win for Sarah Palin. Expectations for her were so low that if she didn’t shoot a moose during the debate, people would be thrilled. In theatre, actors learn that their first responsibility is to learn their lines and don’t fall over the scenery. In this debate, Sarah Palin knew her prepared lines, and the scenery still stood after 90 minutes.

Walter Brasch, during a 40-year work career in mass communications, has been a member of several unions, in both the private and public sectors. He is a syndicated newspaper columnist and the author of 16 books, including With Just Cause: Unionization of the American Journalist, Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, and his latest Fracking Pennsylvania. He can be contacted at: Read other articles by Walter, or visit Walter's website.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. John Hatch said on October 5th, 2008 at 4:49pm #

    What’s with the winking? And what was that crap about ‘American exceptionalists’? America certainly is exceptional when it comes to ethics, greed, and killing people. Is that what she meant? You betcha!
    Please check out my article here:

  2. Poilu said on October 5th, 2008 at 5:31pm #

    John: Saw yours on Information Clearinghouse, and it’s excellent — exactly the kind of acebic send-off this atrociously dim-witted redneck Palin truly deserves.

    Likewise, an excellent assessment from Walter Brasch. The American people — or at least the Republican Party — have gone even dumber than H.L. Mencken could EVER have imagined via this vice-presidential selection:

    “As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal.

    “On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

    -H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Sun, 1920

  3. Poilu said on October 5th, 2008 at 6:22pm #

    And as Steven Zunes fully details in the following “blow-by-blow” account, there was clearly ample bullshit emanating from BOTH camps during this remarkably shallow vice-presidential “debate”:

    “The VP Debate: Dishonest Foreign Policies”
    by Stephen Zunes [Foreign Policy in Focus]

    ‘ The October 3 debate [1] between Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Delaware Senator Joe Biden was disturbing for those of us hoping for a more enlightened and honest foreign policy during the next four years. In its aftermath, pundits mainly focused on Palin’s failure to self-destruct and Biden’s relatively cogent arguments. Here’s an annotation of the foreign policy issues raised during the vice-presidential debate, which was packed with demonstrably false and misleading statements. …’

    [Well worth the full read — Zunes’ corrections of those conspicuous falsehoods are quite commendable.]

  4. Max Shields said on October 6th, 2008 at 6:09am #

    On Iraq, Biden Is Worse than McCain: The Dreyfuss Report October 2008 Nation Magazine.

    “Barack Obama may be doing the one thing that might have seemed impossible: he’s picking a running mate whose ideas about Iraq are even worse than, and stupider than, John McCain’s. ”

    Palin, as far as we know, has not been involved in the killing and maiming of countless children and innocents, in countries throughout the world. She appears a little witless, but so far harmless.

    On the the hand, we have a man, Joseph Biden who has been one of the major hawks in the Senate. He is certainly no man of peace and it can be said that he has done with his vote and influence what Dems fear bate McCain will do.

    Obama selected such a man to represent him and have him apart of his decision making process on foreign affairs. He has also, thus far, selected many of the Clinton hawk advisers and economic free-trade Wall Street fundamentalists.

    While we can chose to vote for a third party candidate. What we’re looking at is an Obama/Biden administration that has offered us more of the same. Additionally, Obama seems to have no sense of the depth of the economic crisis and though able to provide a speech little no ability to provide a sense of direction and vision.

    Let’s face it this established duopoly has given us what we have in spades and totally and completely incapable of moving in another direction. This is the Twilight of the American Empire.

    Somehow Palin just doesn’t seem very important; in fact she’s more a slight distraction from the deep problems we are about to face, long overdue, but clearly on the horizon with the force of a Katina + Ike.

  5. gxm17 said on October 7th, 2008 at 8:15am #

    Wow. I hope you realize that all you folks are doing is proving that the so-called progressive movement is filled with a bunch of sexist pigs. Well, at least this opinion(sarelikeassholes) piece only has four, make that five, comments.