Biden and Palin — Better than baseball

Well, if the Cleveland Indians were in the playoffs I’d be watching baseball tonight. But since they aren’t, I guess I’ll take a nap this afternoon and see if I can stay up past 9 tonight to watch the debate with Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. Or is it Tina Fey?

I would like to think that the debate will add to an understanding of how the candidates would address some of the major problems facing our nation. Probably not. And since the expectations for Palin appear to be pretty low, I think it would be great if the Alaska governor would ask Gwen Ifill to explain the Bush Doctrine. I’m sure Ifill, the debate moderator and resident PBS talking head, would be more than thrilled to opine. No chance that Sarah will catch a break tonight with Gwen as the lead sled.

Here’s from today’s New York Times:

What to watch for tonight?

What’s not to watch?

The debate between Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska should be fascinating on every level — from substance to style, soup to nuts.

Wow. Wouldn’t it be better if we could view this — and the presidential debates as well — as just a conversation between two people with differing points of view who may actually be interested in trying to help this country?

After all, what Palin and Biden say might actually mean something when it comes to the outcome of the presidential election. Here’s from an article by Andrew Glass in Politico, “Could the VP debate affect the race?”:

Given that possibility, Biden likely will closely study the tapes of Bush seeming to lecture Ferraro. Biden, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, entered the Senate in 1973, when Palin was six years old — an age difference the Alaska governor has not so coincidentally noted with regularity in recent days.

Said Peter Kastor, a professor of history and American culture studies at St. Louis’ Washington University, where the debate will take place: “Most of these debates haven’t made a difference. But this one could, depending on what they say and how close the election turns out to be. Both Biden and Palin are loose cannons. They tend to say strange things.”

Clearly everyone expects Biden to say strange things. He has been doing that for decades. But Palin. Is she saying strange things? Or is she just not saying anything at all? And is she being treated unfairly by the old media Washington elites — particularly by women like Campbell Brown on CNN and Katie Couric on CBS?

Here’s Howard Kurtz, writing in The Washington Post, “GOP ‘Gotcha Journalism’ Charges Throw Spotlight on Debate“:

For days now, television viewers have watched Sarah Palin unable to explain the significance of her home state’s bordering Russia, unable to name a Supreme Court ruling she disagrees with, unable to name a single newspaper she reads.

Her halting, unfocused answers in a series of interviews with Katie Couric have left an unmistakable question hanging in the air before tonight’s vice presidential debate: Is Palin going to fall on her face?

Even as some conservative commentators have panned her performances and fretted about how the Alaska governor will fare against Sen. Joe Biden, Palin has challenged the ethics of those interviewing her. Her running mate, John McCain, has complained about “gotcha journalism.” And a top campaign official says female journalists are being especially mean to Palin.

All this may or may not add up to a stab at the age-old technique of preemptive spin.

Nicolle Wallace, a senior McCain adviser, maintained that Palin is connecting with voters, despite the “mixed reviews” for her sit-downs with CBS’s Couric and ABC’s Charlie Gibson.

“We didn’t expect anyone to treat her as a cream puff because she’s a girl,” Wallace said. But, she added, “I’m shocked personally at how brutal many of the women in the media have been.” Wallace pointed to CNN anchor Campbell Brown, who urged the campaign to arrange more interviews for Palin and stop treating her “like a delicate flower who will wilt at any moment.”

Some of Palin’s occasionally rambling responses to Couric have been used verbatim in Tina Fey’s “Saturday Night Live” send-up. In an interview Tuesday with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Palin, a former sports reporter, said: “I have a degree in journalism also, so it surprises me that so much has changed since I received my education in journalistic ethics all those years ago.” She said she would “take those shots and those pop quizzes” in stride.

Let’s just hope that Sarah Palin doesn’t try to compare herself tonight to Tina Fey. That approach didn’t work so well for another candidate for vice president a few years ago. Remember?

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