Following last nights VP debate, coming within a few hours of McCain effectively conceding Michigan. maybe it is time to ask about this reversal of fortune and posit -- has McCain really begun the long, slow slide to losing this election?
Let's face it, the bar was set so low for Sara Palin last night that as long as she walked off the stage with a pulse, she "won". But that's not much of a victory, even by a stretch.
According to Slate online, the winners were Biden (for doing extremely well) and Palin (for not melting down). The loser, however, was John McCain, who was torn down by Biden, left undefended by Palin, and came across looking like a bozo for putting this deer before the headlights.
More at the website.Champ vs. Doggone
The debate's winners: Palin and Biden. Its loser: McCain.
By John Dickerson
Updated Friday, Oct. 3, 2008, at 12:48 AM ET
Sarah Palin and Joe Biden
The puzzle of the vice-presidential debate looked as if it was going to be relatively easy. We knew the words we would use to describe it—embarrassing, gaffe, and twaddle. All that was left was to figure out which candidate to fix them to. Either Joe Biden would fulfill his role as the man known for producing word clouds before that became an Internet term or Sarah Palin would produce one of those fearless answers that proved the topic she was certain about was one with which she had only passing familiarity.
It turned out to be harder than that to score. Those words will sit unused. People watching for a car crash were disappointed. Palin did well, and so did Biden. He was the winner by my standard—he knew his brief, he kept himself in check, and he was commanding. The CNN and CBS post-debate polls called it for Biden. The Fox focus group (not an exact comparison) called it for Palin.
But regardless of who won or lost, a vice-presidential debate doesn't matter unless it produces a major gaffe. This one didn't. So, people will vote on the person at the top of the ticket, and by that criterion, even if you think Palin won the debate, it's hard to see how she changed the race much. That's not great news for John McCain. Both national and state polls are going in the wrong direction for him.
Huffington Post has similar points of view, summed up by Arianna Huffington herself:
More at the site.VP Debate: McCain's Big Gamble Comes Up Snake Eyes
I watched the vice presidential debate in a ballroom at the Four Seasons hotel in Aviara, just north of San Diego, along with a couple of hundred women attending Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit -- a receptive audience, you would think, for a debate featuring a woman who might become the most powerful in the land. It was an ideologically mixed crowd, including representatives of ExxonMobil, a major sponsor of the conference.
If the reaction of the Republican women in the room is any indication, it was not a very good night for Sarah Palin. The only noises heard during the debate were groans when Palin turned her folksiness meter up to 11 (which was often), and applause when Joe Biden delivered his best moments of the night: making personal his understanding of the plight of single parents sitting around their kitchen tables, looking for help; and his impassioned pushback on Palin's endless description of John McCain as "a maverick."
The loudest ovation of the night -- at least in that ballroom (granted, not the most representative-of-America crowd) -- came when Biden said that Dick Cheney was the most dangerous VP in history.
After watching this debate, I am convinced that if the country somehow has a collective mental meltdown and elects Sarah Palin, she will be even more dangerous than Cheney. Not only does she want more power for herself than the Constitution grants -- or than Cheney took for himself -- but she is so obviously not equipped to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, it takes your breath away that McCain picked her. He claims to be putting his country first, but the debate proved beyond any doubt that he has actually chosen to put his country on the betting line and roll the dice. And they've come up snake eyes.
Friday morning, Meg Whitman, the co-chair of McCain's campaign, will be on a panel with Penny Pritzker, Obama's national finance chair, discussing the campaign. After the debate, I asked Whitman what she thought of Palin's performance. "Good enough," she said.
But good enough for what, exactly? After Thursday night, the only thing Palin proved herself good enough for is starring in her own reality show.
Watching Biden and Palin on the same stage was like watching a tennis champion walk onto Centre Court at Wimbledon only to find himself facing an over-eager amateur from the local high school. Or as Pat Mitchell told me, "Biden was taking part in a vice presidential debate; Palin was taking part in a junior high debate."
Basically, McCain needed a game-changer, and Palin could not provide one. Biden expertly avoided playing into the trap of attacking Palin as a peer, which would come off as a sexist bully for Republican spinmeisters, and stuck to attacking John McCain. It seems as though the Republican handlers for Palin did not expect that-- they wanted a "picking on a girl!" headline for this morning.
Is John McCain pretty much over and done with? If not, why not?