Thursday, October 2, 2008

Too Low of Expect-Palins/Leo/Cubs

VP Debate

Count me as one of those (maybe few) who is concerned about a strong Sarah Palin performance in the debate this evening.

Yes, you read that right, I fear that Sarah Palin may have a very good debate this evening.

On this blog I have done what I have wanted Democrats to do, to essentially dismiss Palin and instead take on the new and unimproved John McCain.

I have viewed Palin as a distraction and if you go through 17people, despite wanting to many times, have not blasted away at Sarah Palin. While I have mentioned her, Palin has not been the focus of any article since her convention speech.

About a month ago, soon after the Palin selection I had dinner with some family. At the time, Palin’s star was high and Democrats were getting nervous. Deep down, I was getting nervous too.

Despite that nervousness I made the statement to ‘just be patient’ about Palin. I had read everything about her I could get my hands on and felt there was enough in her past to take the shine off of both her selection and the phenomenally successful roll out of her candidacy by the McCain campaign.

It turns out her checkered past has taken a backseat to her own words and prescence. The Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric interviews have been gifts that keep giving to the prospects of Barack Obama and the writers of Saturday Night Live.

Yet, in politics we love comebacks,,, and after imploding with Katie Couric, Sarah Palin,, desperately needs a comeback.

Whether that road to a comeback begins or blows up tonight, depends on her walking a tight rope.

I expect her to attack Biden and Obama with a couple of well delivered, prepared zingers. She has proven to be a great deliverer of prepared lines. This isn’t a put down to her, any speech writer or comedian knows,, delivery is the key to any attack.

She attacks in direct ways, that rarely come off as shrill, shrewd, or mean. This is different than many women who have run for office and criticized for this over the years.

The ‘tightrope’ I mentioned is that she has to avoid a ‘you can see Russia from Alaska’ kind of answer, or a replay of the ‘Supreme Court’ debacle. Any Alaskan-sized gaffe,,, and she will lose what little credibility she has left.

The Couric and Gibson interviews cause us all to expect a major gaffe?

So why am I nervous about Palin having a strong debate?

Well, there are two reasons.

First, she’s a good debater. I’ve watched the YouTubes of her past debate performances and she handled herself well and was very composed.

Yes, she starts at a significant experience and knowledge disadvantage to Biden, but no one expects her to have mastery of issues like he will. So this means she has a wider margin of error on the answers she will give, as long as she doesn’t step all over herself.

The second reason for my nervousness is that unlike Gibson or Couric, her counterparts in this debate have been neutered heading into the evening.

Biden cannot be as aggressive as he was in the Democratic Primary Debates where he showed top notch debate abilities. He is a quick witted and aggressive debater who has to be mindful of being too in her face.

Plus he is going to be bated by her. He can’t be so laid back that he shows no spine, but he also can’t be the attack dog that he has been for the campaign or else he will be accused of beating up on her.

Additionally, the moderator of this debate, the eminently qualified and professional Gwen Ifill has become a target of Republican fire.

Ifill, long respected as one of the best in the media business is writing a book about African American politicians which is titled, "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama."

This book was announced in July, yet Ifill is labeled as the latest of the press who is being labeled as ‘in the tank for Obama.’

If Palin gets a tough question and bombs, the spin-meisters will say Ifill was unfair. If she asks Biden a question he hits out of the park the Right-Wing spin will say he ‘knew what was coming.’

As for me I think Ifill will do fine and I hope she asks them both very tough questions. That is what her job is and what we as a nation need her to do. But if she was going to write a book with the name 'Obama' in the title,,, she probably should have recused herself from the debate.

But then we would have lost the best interviewer we have left without the great Tim Russert.

This was always going to be a difficult debate for Joe Biden, but with expectations so low for Palin and the new controversy around Gwen Ifill it has become even more difficult. The pressure is on him to stay in control, no matter what she comes at him with.

The fact is that both of these candidates are walking a tightrope in this debate and which ever one keeps their balance,,, wins.


Once again the 2008 Presidential Campaign is mirroring the fictional election depicted in the sixth and seventh seasons of The West Wing. In a 7th season episode appropriately titled “Running Mates” the Vice Presidential Debate was the focus of the show.

In the West Wing scenario it was the Democrats who had real concerns about the performance of VP nominee, Leo McGarry (RIP John Spencer). McGarry had been performing abysmally in debate preps and the campaign started to panic.

The Santos campaign talked about some tactics as to how to deal with a possible McGarry implosion. The tactics ranged from, cancelling the debate to what they settled on,, lowering expectations.

Both have already been floated around tonight's debate. Some have said Palin shouldn’t show because of a ‘family emergency’, others said she should drop off the ticket, and above all expectations have been lowered.

In the West Wing, Leo himself sent an anonymous email to Republican blogger's saying he was tanking in the debate prep.

What did the Wall Street Journal report this week?

That Palin ‘bombed’ in two mock debates.

Think McCain was trying to lower expectations?

So here’s my third reason for being worried about Palin doing well tonight…

In the West Wing,,, Leo won the debate.


I'm obviously not a happy camper today.

Feel bad for Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster who has been so great all season long. Last night he didn’t have it. The team owes it to Demp to give him another opportunity to pitch this postseason.

As for how I reacted…

No, I didn’t drink myself into a stupor, punch a wall, or act a fool.

Instead I dragged my very upset self to the gym, got on a treadmill and ran 6.5miles.

Maybe Cubs losses will help my fitness?

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