I have to confess that my favorite moment in the debate was when Sarah Palin pronounced nuc-u-lear energy the same way as our president. Suddenly, I had a vision of George Bush in lipstick.
I love Joe Biden. Like the rest of the country, I think that he won tonight's debate. Still, I think that he left a low hanging curve ball out over the plate, not even taking a swing at a pitch he could have hit out. Palin said a couple of times that she was going to cut taxes to create jobs and the Obama - Biden administration would destroy jobs. Might I put words in Biden's mouth?
If all it took to create jobs was tax cuts, private sector job growth would not have been 6X as high under Clinton as it has been under Bush. The American people have seen the disastrous results of simplistic policies. It takes more than tax cuts and our plan reflects that.
We're going to fund alternative energy, helping to create the industries of the future. We're going to make college more affordable, creating not just any jobs but better jobs. And we're going to encourage business formation by giving breaks to start ups and small businesses rather than offering tax cuts to big oil.
But tonight I kept track - with my buddies Beth, Jason and Clay - of the number of gaffes (scored even), funny quips (even), and clear and specific points (massive advantage to Biden), credible claims (again, about a dozen points to Biden and about half a dozen negatives for Palin, huge edge to Biden) and good ideas (significant edge to Biden, although an admittedly more subjective evaluation).
Palin did not look foolish but it was at least in part because she completely refused to answer certain questions. It is hard to look unprepared if you simply don't respond to the questions for which you have no answer.
Time will tell if the attempt to lower expectations led Americans to decide that she did well enough. The immediate response seems to be, no - she did better than expected but not well enough to convince us she is ready for the job.
And the fact that Palin is not qualified matters because the president does so few of the really important jobs. This financial crisis reminds us how important it is to have competent Treasury Secretary and Federal Reserve Chairman. Appointments matter, and McCain has seemed more eager to show his maverick recklessness than demonstrate more traditional, yet boring judgment.