Crash Course: 1st Vice Presidential Debate

October 2, 2008

For those patriots who are watching the vice presidential debate tonight, I applaud you.

For those who aren’t, well, you’re missing out on some good television.  Not because it’s a VP debate but because it’s a VP debate between Biden and Palin.

For this reason, I am bathing in my nerdiness and hosting a VP debate party at my house.  (If you know my address and phone number – give me a call, you’re invited!)

If you’re questioning why this will be an entertaining night on ABC, here is some reading material from Biden v. Palin 101.  

The syllabus includes articles from, the Wonkette, the National Review, NPR, Pajamas Media, and Salon.  Feel free to add anything you think this voter may have missed.

Required Reading

How To Debate a Girl, and Win Joe Biden can beat Sarah Palin by pretending she’s a man. And that he’s not Joe Biden.  by Dahlia Lithwick on Slate.  



Last week, Palin proved herself a charming, confident, and gifted reader of speeches. But that doesn’t change the fact that two years ago she was the mayor of a town of 6,000, crusading against dirty books at the local library. You are a six-term senator and chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee. World leaders routinely friend you, unbidden, on Facebook (“Wait … Is this the Angela Merkel?”). World leaders had never heard of Gov. Palin until last Friday.

That’s your problem, Joe. Everyone expects you to win the debate, and to trounce her on the substance. But the rules for debating Gov. Palin are different. If you lecture her, you’ll be seen as a sexist bully. If you act too smart, you’ll be seen as a sexist bully. If you condescend to her, you’ll be seen as a sexist bully.

Your real problem with Palin is not actually going to be her gender. Assuming you don’t gaze fixedly at her breasts or ask her to fetch you a coffee, you probably won’t do anything truly career wrecking on the sexism front.

There is no easy way to tell you this, Joe Biden, but the surest way for Joe Biden to lose a debate against Sarah Palin is by being Joe Biden. If you are windy, pompous, unctuous, or pushy, you will come across as patronizing and condescending—the guy who puts the “boy” into “old boys’ network.” If you flirt and smirk and flatter (Did you truly tell an Ohio crowd you thought Palin was “good-looking”? Did you really introduce us to your wife, Jill, by leering that she is “drop-dead gorgeous”?), you’re going to sound like the creepy guy in the trench coat at the back of the porn theater.


THANK GOD IT’S THURSDAY Palin-Biden Debate Drinking Game Begins NOW.

Posted on the Wonkette.


Let’s make it fun — or hazy, at least — by taking a drink off your wine or beer when the following occurs:

  • PALIN evades a question by mentioning state rights.
  • BIDEN says he takes the train home every day.
  • PALIN fills time by listing all her kids, by their ridiculous names.
  • BIDEN talks about Scranton.
  • PALIN blames Iraq for 9/11.
  • BIDEN blames McCain for 9/11.
  • PALIN says “like” as a White Trash discourse particle or interjection.
  • BIDEN audibly laughs at Palin.
  • PALIN stares blankly when she can’t answer a question.
  • BIDEN makes a sarcastic joke that goes right over Palin’s head, along with about half the viewers.
  • PALIN says anything comically retarded about Russia or Canada.

Biden’s Baggage 

That foreign-policy heft will be hard to carry by Andrew McCarthy.  Posted on the National Review.


Biden, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is the doyen of transnational progressives, Rolodex bursting with this chargé d’affaires and that secretary-general, bookshelves buckling under back issues of Foreign Affairs….But if Iraq is the topic, a more interesting debate would pit Biden against . . . Biden. By comparison, John Kerry is a paragon of consistency: Biden was not merely for the Iraq War before he was against it; he was also against it before he was for it. 

Biden evolved into an internationalist of the highest order. He is probably the Senate’s most ardent admirer of the United Nations, regardless of how ineptly and corruptly it performs. He has never met a multilateral treaty he didn’t like, no matter how much sovereignty it surrendered. He vigorously supports the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which directs states to “modify social and cultural patterns of conduct” and installs the government as paymaster to enforce equal compensation for jobs of comparable value. He urges ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which vests children with a right to receive and impart “information and ideas of all kinds” over any “media of the child’s choice” — without regard to age or parental consent. He wants the U.S. to accept the International Criminal Court, which purports to empower an independent prosecutor to bring war-crimes charges against nationals of any country — including ours — whether it has ratified the treaty or not. Like McCain, he has been a supporter of the Law of the Sea Treaty, a redistributionist scheme that creates its own mini-U.N. (the supervisory “Authority”) as well as a new international legal tribunal, the rulings of which would inevitably interfere with American naval operations and national security. 

Energy Election

Sarah Palin can make a compelling case for plentiful supply.  By Max Schulz.  Posted on the National Review.

McCain picked Palin as his running mate in part because of her experience as chief executive of a state that is no stranger to energy production. Both as governor and as a member of Alaska’s Oil and Gas Commission, Palin has waded deep in the economic and the environmental waters of the nation’s energy debate. Americans understand that we need to bring supplies to the market, and that anti-energy policies will only serve to drive up prices. Palin needs to let people know that she has been firmly on the side of producing the energy resources we have within our own borders. 

High Stakes For Biden, Palin In VP Debate.  By Scott Neuman on


Biden, too, has experienced his share of slip-ups on the campaign trail, and will need to….fight his “tendency to talk forever and sometimes say stuff that’s kind of stupid.”

Palin clearly has the most at stake. A single major gaffe or misstatement at the debate could confirm the judgment of her critics and emphasize a growing public perception that she is not qualified to be a “heartbeat away from the presidency.”

The big veep showdown.  By Walter Shapiro.  Posted on


Perhaps the first-term Alaska governor — who seemed so over-matched during her TV interviews with Katie Couric — will suddenly drop the name of the hard-line president of Uzbekistan (Islam Karimov) and speak with statistical precision about the peculiar “doughnut-hole” benefit formula of Medicare Part D (the prescription-drug program). But while Biden has his own history of making remarks that do not play well in YouTube videos, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee may be perceived as a mere bystander during Palin’s biggest career performance without a teleprompter.

VP Debate Preview: Will Biden Gaffe? Will Palin Be Set Free?  By Jennifer Rubin on Pajamas Media.

The wisdom — or is it hope — circulating among savvy conservatives is that she has been hampered by too little access and too little practice in mixing it up with the media. The MSM and liberal pundits have a different take: she is unprepared and dim-witted, so there was good reason to hide her from the press. (Meanwhile, John McCain, in a joint interview with Palin, told Katie Couric it was “gotcha” journalism which made Palin appear out of her league.)

At the VP debate on Thursday night we will find out which is more accurate: was she a brilliant choice incompetently managed, or an awful selection which now has come back to haunt John McCain?

I look forward to your thoughts about the debate.

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One Response to “ Crash Course: 1st Vice Presidential Debate ”

  1. revisingproust on October 3, 2008 at 1:40 am

    …i mean, both candidates have a hard act to follow.

    am i right?

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