Friday, October 3, 2008

The bizarre entertainment of the US Vice-Presidential debate

I have done my duty. I have watched the Palin v Biden debate (you can see it below).

First, a personal admission, which I don't feel proud about. I had to put my hand in front of my face whenever Sarah Palin was on the screen. She was looking at me. Worse still, she was smiling at me for much of the time. I couldn't stand it. Especially after she winked at me. I used my fingers to filter her face so I could only see her mouth. And her accent! Oh dear. I was imagining getting stuck in a lift alone with her... oh dear. But, as I say, this is a personal issue of mine. I saw from the CNN reactometer that uncommitted voters in Ohio liked her folksiness.

And could Joe Biden issue a warning to low flying aircraft before he smiles? His teeth are so bright that at night they could be mistaken for a landing strip.

I notice that the instant voter reaction polls on CBS and CNN both say that Biden won overwhelmingly in the eyes of voter panels.

But Palin did well given the low expectations there were for her. As analyst Paul Begala said on CNN, Biden did a great job of tying McCain to Bush's failed policies, which was his job for the night. Palin's job, in contrast, Begala said, was to rescue Sarah Palin. She did that well. But it doesn't say much for the state of the McCain/Palin ticket that she had to be on the back foot like that.

A few points which excited my interest. There must be something in the American meaning of the word "maverick" which is different from the normal interpretation of the word on this side of the pond. When Palin kept on saying that she and McCain are a "couple of mavericks": I thought "a couple of loose canons", you mean, who should be not allowed within 100 miles of the nuclear button.

And she repeated that line that "John McCain knows how to win a war". Really? He was in Vietnam. I've seen Miss Saigon, you know. The helicopter taking off from the embassy. Is that "winning a war"?

Gwen Ifill the moderator, did an excellent job.

Back to Palin annoying me. She gave a "shout out" to a local high school's third grade. In the US Vice-Presidential debate. Who the heck does she think she is? Pete Tong?

High marks to Biden's emotional bit about his wife dying and then wondering whether his sons would make it. Top man. The CNN reactometer was off the scale at the top for that bit. And his rousing bit, when asked what he would do if he had to be President, was a real tour de force.

Last bit. The most bizarre moment of the debate. Indeed, perhaps the most bizarre moment in American politics for many a month or indeed year. Sarah Palin was speaking with the question she was meant to be answering on a big caption below her: "What is your achilles heel as a Vice Presidential candidate?" Her answer: "I share John McCain's world view".

As Jeremy Paxman would say:


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