I watched the debate for a second time last night–to be honest, the replay was on in the background as I studied Wills, Trusts & Estates for school–and came away with a slightly different impression. While I cannot echo the high-flying platitudes seen from many of the usual suspects among right-wing writers and pundits, my second helping of the Biden-Palin face-off led me to believe that she did even better than I originally thought.
When I watched the first time, I watched intently and looked at Palin from a perspective of “is she doing what she needs to be doing?” for not so much any independents or undecideds who may not pay as much attention to politics (I called them “superficial independents” last night) but for conservatives like me who live and breathe this stuff. The second time, however, I mostly was listening instead of watching and was listening from a perspective of what she actually said rather than what she needed to do to satisfy nerds like myself.
I still thought she had a rough beginning, but held her own very well against Biden and, as well as he performed and as smoothly as he parroted the left’s talking points, actually had him on the defensive a few times.
Regardless, by the time I finished studying and went to bed, I found myself wondering why John McCain hasn’t had her out among the people more. I found myself wondering why he has chosen to abandon the battleground state of Michigan–a short-sighted move, if I may say so–rather than dispatch Palin to empathize and calm some economic fears. Bottom line, I wondered why McCain was so fearful of simply letting this conservative dynamo be herself. This morning, I was delighted to see that folks at The Wall Street Journal wondered the same thing.
Free Sarah Palin: She’s Doing Just Fine Being Herself
The Wall Street Journal
Maybe John McCain should fire the advisers who won’t let Sarah Palin do more interviews. The Alaska Governor has faced two major campaign challenges — her acceptance speech and last night’s debate — and each time she’s shown herself worthy of the national stage. Let Mrs. Palin be herself, and then when she makes a mistake, as every candidate does, it won’t be treated like some epic judgment on her fitness to be Vice President.
Mrs. Palin couldn’t match Mr. Biden’s fluency on Bosnia or Darfur last night, but not too long ago neither could Barack Obama. The Republican nominee more than held her own on foreign policy in general, and in our view won on points at least on Iraq and Afghanistan. She didn’t let Mr. Biden get away with interpreting the comments of a U.S. general in Afghanistan as a rejection of Mr. McCain’s strategy. And on Iraq she exposed both Mr. Biden’s change of heart on the war, and his change of heart on Mr. Obama’s views on the war. At times Mr. Biden even looked a little frustrated — as if he couldn’t quite believe he had to share the stage with someone who hasn’t hung out with Dick Lugar or . . . Mike Mansfield back when the Senate was still a civil place. Or someone who says “doggonit.”
Mr. Biden had his strongest moments on the economy, trying to link Mr. McCain to the current financial problems and “deregulation.” On this point, neither Mrs. Palin nor Mr. McCain have yet offered Americans an adequate response. It isn’t enough to denounce “greed and corruption” on Wall Street, as Mrs. Palin did every few minutes. If that’s the problem, voters will elect the Democrats as more practiced class warriors.
The McCain campaign needs a more spirited defense of business as job creators; and can’t someone explain that Mr. McCain is not proposing to raise taxes on health care? His proposal would take the current health-care tax subsidy that goes to business and give it to individuals, so their wages will rise and they’d have more portable health coverage. The tax increase for health care will arrive when Mr. Obama tries to pay for his vast expansion of “free” government care.
Mr. McCain can nonetheless thank Mrs. Palin for defending him with energy and confidence, and thus disappointing those in the media who wanted to see her fall.