Friday, October 3, 2008

Debate Wrap-up

Not gonna say much about the debate today as there's little point. What I saw last night was pretty much what I expected. Biden answered the questions he was asked (mostly). Whether you agree with his answers is another matter, but he gave them. It seemed to me that Palin rarely answered the questions that were asked, at least beyond the framework of the proverbial 10-word answer. Once that was done she'd throw in some folksy talk and a wink and segue right into stump speech talking points. It was straight out of the SNL bit I quoted yesterday, "Forgive me, Mrs. Palin, but it seems to me that when cornered you become increasingly adorable. Is that fair to say?"

She spent a lot of time last night to trying to make herself adorable.

If there was any part of the debate that I would encourage people to pay extra attention to it was this:

IFILL: Governor, you mentioned a moment ago the constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past. Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?

PALIN: Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president's agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we'll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation. And it is my executive experience that is partly to be attributed to my pick as V.P. with McCain, not only as a governor, but earlier on as a mayor, as an oil and gas regulator, as a business owner. It is those years of experience on an executive level that will be put to good use in the White House also.

IFILL: Vice President Cheney's interpretation of the vice presidency?

BIDEN: Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.

And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.

The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.

This was a question that had an absolute right answer and an absolute wrong answer. Palin got it frighteningly wrong. Biden didn't.

Before wrapping this post up, I feel I should briefly go back to last Friday's debate, since I never addressed it and I don't want to look like I'm ducking it. Obviously, I'm in the tank for Obama, so I liked his answers better than McCain's. But in terms of how the debate would play across the country, I thought it was a draw. Neither candidate was particularly impressive and neither -if you can remove fact checking from the equation- did anything particularly damaging to themselves. Given that, I was very relieved to read that polling indicated most people thought Obama took it. I thought McCain's constant put downs of Obama would play and, evidently, they did not.