9:31 - Biden's daughters are total hotties. And with that, I'm through.
9:30 - I think it's fairly predictable that Palin will benefit from low expectations. A blowout for Biden, but by whatever weird calculus prevails, I'm guessing it will be known as a draw.
9:28 - Biden's point about not questioning motives is huge. Not just presidential, but poetic. I'm not so sure it's true, of course - personally I imagine Jesse Helms was a corrupt fuck, but as a PR gesture it's got its merits.
9:25 - Palin doesn't come back at Biden on the Bork thing . . . this is a core conservative issue and it seems she's not even familiar with it, again.
9:23 - Biden may be closing this thing down. He's been visibly pissed off for most of the debate, and the question is whether people will identify more with that or with Palin's recycled Bush folksiness.
9:22 - John McCain is "the man we need to leave - I mean lead." Classic.
9:20 - She attributes "Shining city on a hill" to Reagan? I think that about sums up the depth of not just the McCain campaign but the Republican party.
9:16 - Palin completely fails to address the question of Cheney's interpretation of the VP's position outside of the executive branch. It strikes me that she's not even familiar with the issue. Biden gives the sensible answer that Cheney is self-aggrandizing.
9:14 - It's funny, Palin mentions "having a conversation" with McCain, and I can't even picture it. I can only see McCain holding her in barely-concealed contempt. McCain is flawed, but at least he's substantive. The idea of Sarah Palin in a position of authority in the U.S. national government is frankly frightening, just as much as it was before the debate.
9:12 - Palin on Biden's schoolteacher wife: "Her reward is in heaven, huh?" For a secular person, this comes across as weird and vaguely threatening. I wonder if this will be spun as a blunder.
9:10 - I'm starting to notice tone more than anything. She's clearly a charming performer, very Bush-like. But also like Bush, she's completely without substance, without a thought process. There's nothing back there. I just really wonder whether people will notice this, and whether they're going to make the right decision.
9:08 - Okay, I'M tired, I can't imagine what those two are feeling.
9:01 - "It's so obvious I'm a Washington outsider . . . " I can't say I hate Palin, which surprises me somewhat. But she's clearly a Barbie doll in the worst possible way. There's absolutely no substance here, she's regurgitating slogans.
9:00 - Biden seems to be getting tired. Repeating himself on Afghanistan.
8:58 - "Facts matter." There is no important principle that distinguishes the Democrats and Republicans.
8:56 - More incoherence from Palin on nuclear weapons . . . srsly.
8:56 - Biden takes the opening and runs down all of the places where there has been no declared difference between McCain and Bush.
8:53 - Biden's critique of Bush admin in Israel is harsh and pointed. But can h connect it to McCain? Again, he refuses to take the attack dog role. Palin - "I'm so glad we both love Israel." Creeeeeeeepy.
8:51 - Again with the "second Holocaust." Downright offensive.
8:49 - And now she's failing to distinguish between "sitting down" and "diplomacy." Biden points out the ridiculousness of the McCain campaigns attempts to square the circle.
8:48 - What I'm most impressed by is that Palin can say "Akmedenijad" (sp?) without showing her pride. Her answer is not just vague but outdated even by standards of debate rhetoric, going back to the "talking to dictators" line against Obama. Wasn't that like, three months ago?
8:47 - Okay, Palin is predictably ineffectual, going back to Iraq. The McCain campaign must know that this isn't much of a selling strategy.
8:46 - Biden on Pakistan vs. Iran is strong, but I'm on the fucking edge of my seat waiting for Palin. This will be where she lives or dies - international affairs.
8:45 - Okay though, Biden on McCain's fundamental understanding of the war is fairly devastating.
8:43 - There's just nothing spectacular or really interesting happening here so far. Biden has gotten mad a couple times, and that's good stuff. But they're both really just regurgitating vague outlines of party positions.
8:42 - I have to confess that even I am simply tired of talking about Iraq, to the extent that even if I did think a withdrawal was surrender, I'd be excited about it.
8:40 - On to Iraq. And I notice George Bush has not been mentioned a single time.
8:39 - And Biden seems to have gotten something interesting, apparently no difference between gay and straight couples civilly.
8:37 - Wow, Biden says something that sounds very strong - no constitutional or legal distinction between straight and gay couples.
8:35 - Palin is good on energy, and she's getting a lot of time on it.
8:32 - "If you don't understand the causes, it's virtually impossible to come up with a solution." Biden is good here. Although "clean coal" is total bullshit.
8:31 - Ooh, climate change, this should be good. Sounds like Palin is hedging a bit . . . maybe there is some human effect. And now she's just babbling . . . "I'm not interested in debating the causes, I'm here to talk about how are we going to get to positively effect the impacts." Her manner collapsed in the course of one question.
8:30 - Palin dodges mortgages to talk about Energy - I'm not sure that's going to play well. I have to say, though, she seems confident, and her smiling manner is compelling.
8:26 - "I hope the governor can convince John McCain to impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies like she did in Alaska." This sort of jiu-jitsu seems more common this cycle - complimentary but convoluted.
8:24 - Okay, Palin is off-topic, but she's performing well on her tough stance against tax breaks for oil companies. It's got Biden defensive for the first time. She's even gotten Biden praising her.
8:21 - Biden's analysis of McCain's healthcare plan is impassioned and compelling.
8:19 - The tax cut thing seems pretty clear cut. Palin's response isn't completely incoherent, which is kind of like hitting it out of the park. That seems like a theme here.
8:15 - Biden actually knows the details of McCain's positions - how many times has he supported deregulation? 20. Palin turns around and has numbers of her own - 94 times Obama didn't reduce taxes. Biden rebuts with overwhelming strength - McCain did the same thing 477 times. Palin goes back to her mayoral term . . . that's what's known as being on your heels.
8:10 - Oh, who do we blame subprimes on, to Palin. This should be good. Blaming Wall Street for being greedy is like castigating the fox for eating chickens. And she's calling for strict oversight, weird from a Republican. The message about restraint is a good one for a Republican, hits the good messages about conservatism and responsibility at a time when it makes sense.
8:09 - Palin's literally incoherent, babbling sloganeering is just creepy.
8:08 - The effect of Palin talking about McCain nonstop has a bit of a weird vibe to it. Biden's doing it a bit with Obama too. It's kind of like they're competing car salesmen.
8:06 - Palin goes to soccer moms as economic belwethers . . . and my own mom next to me sighs in disgust. That seems like a signal that folksiness isn't selling.
8:04 - First question on the bailout. "The worst economic policies we've ever had." But will he relate it to McCain? Well, going more positive than that - pro-Obama.
8:04 - "Can I call you Joe?" from Palin. Well-calibrated folksiness.
8:02 - The most anticipated VP debate in history . . . and Bryan Williams puts that in perspective immediately by pointing out what a weird pick Palin was.