Thursday, October 2, 2008

Live-blogging the vice-presidential debate - Sarah Palin vs. Joe Biden

Click here to jump down to the live-blogging.

UPDATE: The debate:

UPDATE: The debate in 10 minutes (thanks to TalkingPointsMemo):

Other live-bloggers

Pre-debate points

1. I'm expecting a comeback. The expectations are so abysmally low for Palin that it's hard to imagine she won't impress.

2. What should you eat during the debate? Here are some suggestions.

My favorites (I usually go out of my way not to promote meat on the blog, but these are too good not to use):
  • Lipstick (Ketchup) on a Pig in a Blanket

  • Sloppy Joe

  • Put some white Russians on the other side of a window. Close enough to see but not close enough to know anything about how they actually taste.

3. This debate is taking place in the shadow of seriously bad news for the McCain campaign today.

In addition to the McCain campaign's general doldrums and the various Palin embarrassments, the state of the race changed today -- Politico reports:
John McCain is pulling out of Michigan, according to two Republicans, a stunning move a month away from Election Day that indicates the difficulty Republicans are having in finding blue states to put in play.

McCain will go off TV in Michigan, stop dropping mail there and send most of his staff to more competitive states...

A McCain aide confirmed the move and chalked it up to the state's Democratic tilt and the resources Obama had put in place there.

Now, you might say: "He's just moving his resources from one state to other states, so couldn't that be a wash?"

Well, no. Michigan is special. According to, which specializes in crunching the poll data and predicting elections, there's almost no chance (less than 10%) that either candidate could lose Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan but win the election.

And where is he increasing his resources? The above-linked article mentions a few states, but this seems especially significant:
[T]he McCain campaign also announced yesterday that he's adding a dozen new offices in Virginia, where Obama has gained in recent days. If nothing else, Obama is forcing McCain to spend more money in a state that hasn't voted for a Dem for president for 44 years -- LBJ in 1964.

Big things happening.

I emailed A____, who lives in Michigan, about this development, and he emailed back this dispatch:
it's actually pretty shocking now that i think about it. we've been absolutely bombarded with McCain stuff even before Hillary conceded. my sense is that the poll numbers probably paired poorly with what have been absolutely MASSIVE voter registration drives in A2 [Ann Arbor] and literally cannot walk more than two blocks here without running into someone with a clipboard.

4. As far as the speculation about whether Joe Biden will be sufficiently "respectful" in how he interacts with Sarah Palin, I don't have much to add to what Tena Hollingsworth, had to say in the Talking Points Memo comments section today (in response to this report about how they're prepping Biden):

This coaching of Biden cause she's woman?


Just treat her like anyone else- that was the point that we women fought for.

This is so stupid.

Schrodingers Cat responds:
Couldn't agree more. Any woman who would stand back and say "Biden is picking on Palin" is an idiot. Did you hear anyone say "Biden was picking on Giuliani" after his famous quip?

If women expect to be treated equally in this society then we need to get over the victim-thing. Women shouldn't demand to play this game and then be expected to be treated differently. If you're a woman and you ... attack your opponent, you should expect the same in return.
Tena responds:
I'm so glad you agree. Frankly this ticks me off because I see it as a full on set back for women. Thank you Sarah for making us look different and stupid and in need of help from men.

I'm thrilled about it.

9:02 - Starting!

9:03 - They both tell each other, "Nice to meet you." I guess they'd never met.

9:05 - Biden is kind of hanging his head, and he's not making good eye contact. And like Obama in the first debate, he's talking a bit too fast. Nervous. 

9:06 - One of the first words out of Palin's mouth is "barometer," and she uses it a couple times in her first answer. Probably a poor choice of words, not based on meaning but just sound -- Barack Obameter!

9:09 - If this is about eye contact, Palin is winning.

9:09 - Both of them have sent the message loud and clear in the first 10 minutes: they really respect each other.

9:10 - Palinism: Darn right it was the predator lenders!

9:10 - Palin could hardly be coming across as more poised and confident so far.

9:13 - Again: Darn right we need tax relief!

9:13 - Even as an Obama supporter and no fan of Palin, I'm finding it hard not to root for her after everything she's been through in the last few weeks.

9:14 - Biden accuses Palin of using "a bogus standard" for gauging tax cuts, and says quite firmly that she was wrong in her previous answer. Glad to see that he's not afraid to debate her the way he would any other candidate. [As another example, a few minutes later he begins a rebuttal to Palin, "I don't know where to start!"]

9:15 - Palin: "I may not answer the questions the way you or the moderator want to hear..." Take that, Gwen Ifill!

(Note that I'm just writing down quotes as I go along, so the quotes in this post aren't necessarily accurate.)

9:20 - Biden clearly noticed that even though McCain doesn't usually give policy specifics, you can find them out on his website!

9:21 - Ifill notes that neither Obama nor McCain "quite answered" Jim Lehrer's question last week about what they'll have to change about their proposed policies in light of the financial crisis.

9:23 - Palin: One nice thing about running with McCain is that he doesn't tell one thing to one group and then another thing to another group. Oh, really?

9:27 - Palin is against corruption and greed on Wall Street.

9:33 - Apparently, each debate has one incongruous sexual word to jolt you to attention. In the first presidential debate: "orgy." In this debate: "raping."

9:34 - Needless to say, Palin is happy to be talking about energy.

9:35 - "Senator O'Biden!"

9:37 - Biden says -- correctly -- that the Constitution requires treating opposite-sex couples the same as same-sex couples.

9:38 - Palin is conspicuously brief in noting that she doesn't want to overly expand the definition of marriage, not even specifying what would be going too far. But she says no one would even propose limiting hospital visitation or any other such rights. Huh? I'm not sure how this isn't a bald-faced lie.

9:40 - Biden responding to Palin's answer on Iraq: "With all due respect, I didn't hear a plan."

9:42 - Unfortunate phrasing from Biden: "The only odd man out on Iraq is John McCain." (Are there any odd women out? Like, maybe...the one who's standing...right across from you...)

9:44 - Biden laughs warmly at Palin's remark that Biden once said he'd be happy to run against or with McCain.

9:44 - "John McCain voted to cut off funding for the troops. Let me say that again..." And you know he will.

9:47 - Palin says "nucular." If that's her worst gaffe tonight, it's a small miracle.

9:50 - Biden: "That's just simply not true about Barack Obama. He did not say he'd sit down and meet with Ahmadinejad..." Again, Biden is giving his normal debate performance and not holding back from criticizing Palin. Good for him.

9:52 - Palin is against a second Holocaust.

9:52 - Palin gives an extra ounce of pizzazz: "Build that embassy in Jerusalem!"

9:55 - Palin is glad to agree with Biden on Israel. Should Obama run an attack ad based on this admission?

9:55 - Biden, stop the sighin'!

9:58 - My mom was probably right when she said, about half an hour ago:
I'll bet a lot of people are tuning out about now, satisfied that Palin is competent and smart, but pretty bored.
10:03 - Someone should have coached Biden that when he mentions his work with Dick Lugar, it's not too effective to just say he "worked with Dick Lugar!" Many Americans are not a walking "Who's Who" of Republican members of Congress.

10:04 - Palin: "Oh, man, it's so obvious that I'm a Washington outsider and just not used to the way you guys operate!" And then, Biden pats down his brow. On sheer theatrics, Palin definitely won that moment.

10:07 - Palin tells us that tomorrow we'll find out which of them was right about Biden's position on Iraq because the "pundits" will tell us! So I guess she trusts the media elites on some things.

10:08 - Responding to Ifill's question about the possibility of Obama dying in office, Biden avoids becoming the next Michael Dukakis.

10:10 - Palin on her differences with McCain: "Whatdaya expect -- we're a team of mavericks! ... I'm gonna keep pushing him on ANWR." This is after she repeatedly raked Biden over the coals for arguable differences Biden has had with Obama. So I guess it's OK if the running mate and nominee disagree, as long as they ... what? Do it with a certain "can-do" attitude?

10:12 - "Oh, there you go, Joe ... now doggone it! ... I know your wife is a schoolteacher -- now God bless her, her reward is in Heaven!" Palin is going into Palin-overdrive!

10:18 - Palin apparently missed the fact that Ifill was asking her not whether her experience is valuable, but what her "real Achilles' heel" is.

10:19 - Palin used to not have health insurance, so she knows what that's like. Well, that's the problem with the excessive focus in this race on empathy. Anyone can have it. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with your policies.

10:21 - Biden starts to choke up talking about how even though he's a man, he knows what it's like to raise kids on his own (which he did after his first wife died). [Added: Video -- near the end of this short clip.]

10:23 - Biden on McCain: "I love him!" The McCain attack ad practically writes itself!

10:24 - Biden on McCain: "Maverick he is not." Syntax Biden has.

10:30 - Palin gently alludes to the enormous disparity between her performance in interviews and in this very debate: "I like being able to talk directly to the American people, without the filter of the media telling people what they're about to hear."

10:33 - Biden ends on a chilling note, referring to the fact that both he and Palin have sons who are being deployed to Iraq: "For both of us, selfishly, may God protect our troops."

10:34 - Palin to Ifill right after the debate: "'Preciate that! That was very helpful!"

10:34 - OK, so she's not that bad...


Anonymous said...

She IS that bad. She speaks in generalities and clearly does not have a command of any of the issues. I don't care if she purports to "represent" middle America. The "average joe six-pack" should hold the second highest office in the land--we strive to elect those who are well above average in intellect and ability.

hombre said...

"[W]e strive to elect those who are well above average in intellect and ability." -- anonymous

No, YOU strive to elect the liberal elite model of above average intellect and ability, the manifestation of which is glibness.

Other than chairing a failed education foundation in Chicago and flashing a reasonably good jump shot -- one minus, one plus -- Obama has done little to demonstrate his abilities.

Palin, on the other hand, has actually governed a satisfied constituency. (And she may have a better jump shot.)

Anonymous said...

>>>>Biden says -- correctly -- that the Constitution requires treating opposite-sex couples the same as same-sex couples.

No, the Constitution specifically states that you have to go through the amendment process in order to enshrine new Constitutional rights. I know it is tempting just to make crap up just because you think it is morally right. However, if you really respected the Constitution you would follow its rules.

John Althouse Cohen said...

No, the Constitution specifically states that you have to go through the amendment process in order to enshrine new Constitutional rights. I know it is tempting just to make crap up just because you think it is morally right. However, if you really respected the Constitution you would follow its rules.

I do respect the Constitution. My actual, honest opinion is that based on its specific, existing provisions -- not imaginary provisions, nothing "made up" -- the Constitution should be recognized to afford equal protection to anyone, regardless of gender, who wants to marry, say, Alice Anderson (a hypothetical adult woman in the United States). We can agree to respectfully disagree, but please don't deny that this is my actual opinion of what the Constitution itself -- as necessarily interpreted by the controlling case law -- says.

hombre said...


Since you didn't mention which cases "necessarily" require your interpretion, it is difficult to determine who else Alice might have a "constitutional right" to marry.

Larry, Moe AND Curly, perhaps? Peter Rabbit, perhaps (a hypothetical prepubescent bunny in the United States)?

Do tell.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Since you didn't mention which cases "necessarily" require your interpretion, it is difficult to determine who else Alice might have a "constitutional right" to marry.

Well, I don't accept the premise that I'm required to provide citations anytime I make a blog comment, but I have in mind basic law on gender discrimination, read in light of the Supreme Court's reasoning in Loving v. Va. And substantive due process on the right to marry. These points have been pretty thoroughly covered by a lot of people -- I'm hardly the first person to think of any of this.

I realize this is controversial, but remember that I was only disagreeing with the assertion that I was making up things that aren't already in the law. That's simply not true, even if you disagree with my opinion.

hombre said...

I don't believe I suggested that you were required to cite anything. I was just curious about how far your theory might carry us.

Based on your reference to "substantive due process," I think that we may have come full circle to Roy Mustang's original comment and that from the perspective of a future Justice Cohen, Peter Rabbit may be in luck. (I offer that jokingly, not patronizingly.)

Thanks for the chat.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Based on your reference to "substantive due process," I think that we may have come full circle to Roy Mustang's original comment and that from the perspective of a future Justice Cohen, Peter Rabbit may be in luck.

I see your point, but you're assuming I subscribe to SDP as a matter of principle. If I had said that, then it would support the idea that I'm in favor of making up the law and interpreting the Constitution to mean what I want it to mean, since there's a pretty strong argument that SCOTUS's SDP doctrine has done just that.

But there are a bunch of ways you could agree with my position without actually thinking SDP is a great idea:

(1) Stare decisis. I didn't say the theory was the best possible analysis in the first place. But the very existence of a broad, concise constitution implies that it's going to need to be interpreted, and I think there's value to not constantly shifting back and forth from one interpretation to another based on the year-to-year changes in the Supreme Court's personnel.

(2) Who ever said we're in SCOTUS? After all, we're just talking hypotheticals. If we're in any other American court, stare decisis doesn't even come up. The SDP case law is binding, end of story -- you're not allowed to overrule SCOTUS.

(3) Even if you somehow overrule Zablocki, I still say it's unconstitutional gender discrimination to say that I'm allowed to marry Alice because I'm a man but Lisa isn't allowed to marry Alice because she's a woman.

(4) Even if none of that convinces you, there's still the question whether there's a rational basis for banning same-sex marriage. I'm still waiting to hear one. I know that the usual answer is "It's all about children!" That's never made any sense to me, since (a) a gay couple can raise children just fine, and (b) there's nothing stopping straight couples from marrying even if they're infertile or don't want to have children. For that matter, a man and woman can get married if they're destitute or abusive or alcoholics or heroin addicts or mentally incapacitated -- any imaginable reason why someone would be ill-equipped to raise children. None of these are bars to marriage, while the most morally upstanding gay couple in America can't (outside Mass or Calif). Again, I'd be interested to hear any rational reason for having that rule.

hombre said...

Sorry. I've been occupied elsewhere.

Sound jurisprudence does not simply flow from clever arguments and good intentions. Despite its current apologists, the reasoning behind Roe v. Wade, for example, was once considered absurd by all but the most devoted social engineers. It is also the most polarizing decision in my lifetime. There is nothing sound about it.

When you speak of substantive due process and (italicized yet)"rational" reasons in the same breath, I take that to be an invitation to slide into the rabbit warren of moral relativity. There I will encounter our friend Peter Rabbit and perhaps Curly, Moe and Larry. They remind me that you did not answer my question from 10/3, 12:48.

Your "rational reason" may be found, in part, in that answer. And, of course, I asked you first.

I'll think about your question and you can think about mine, if you wish.

I would argue ultimately that Mustang's "respect for the Constitution" has as little to do with respect for SDL cases and their ilk as with respect for, say, Plessy v. Ferguson. It relates to the document itself and the intent of its framers for whom some concepts were no doubt conceivable, but too bizarre or repellant to warrant mention. The appropriate, and prescribed, remedy in the face of changing standards is amendment, not judicial avant-gardism from the left or the right.

Thanks. It's been fun, but I can see no reason to pursue this further.