Not that anyone cares about my not-very-politically-engaged opinion, but I’m sharing my notes from tonight's debate. My observations are in italics.
First of all, I want Sarah Palin to do well. If I were her, I would be drowning in a big old pool of self-pity and insecurity, after all she has been through with her e-mail being hacked, the media treatment, the cruelty of many bloggers, etc. I am not a big fan of John McCain. I am one of the millions out there who didn’t care to vote for McCain, but whose attitude changed when he nominated Gov. Palin.
I like Obama, too. He is disarmingly smooth and can be very convincing. But his actions speak louder than his words.
OK, debate is about to start. Gwen is talking. She seems like a nice lady. The “Gwen is in the Obama tank” right-wing editorials seemed like a bunch of whiny noise to me. Let’s hope I was right.
5-minute segments. 90 seconds per candidate plus 2 minutes for rebuttal. Gwen has chosen the questions. OK. Here come the contestants!
Sarah asked if she could call him “Joe.” Charming. Joe is gracious. They both look happy to be there. Weird. If I were Sarah, my knees would be knocking. Good thing I’m not Sarah.
I didn’t realize she was so short. Is she short? Or is Joe just really tall? Can I call him Joe?
1. Bailout. Worst of Washington or best of Washington?
a. Biden—last 8 years, worst econ policies. Congress in a difficult spot. BO laid out 4 basic criteria for a rescue plan. 1-oversight. 2-homeowners. 3-taxpayers like investors. 4-make sure CEOs don’t benefit and make money off rescue plan. Fundamental disagreement: We’re going to fundamentally change the focus of the econ policy. We will focus on the middle class, not just the wealthy. Good.
b. Sarah: Soccer. Soccer? Fear—barometer. She’s talking in generalities. "We need reform." John has represented reform. There will be more oversight thanks to John. Hm. Slow start, I think.
2. How would you work to bridge the gap of polarization?
a. Joe: That’s what I’ve been doing all along. I’ve been able to reach across the aisle. Back to economy: John McCain, fundamentals of economy are strong … to econ crisis.
b. Sarah answers well. Fundamentals being the people, which McCain clarified but no one listened. She points to her past as a maverick. Even though I'm so sick of the word mav I could throw up. She says BO hasn’t proven that he’s willing to step across 96% of the time.
3. Subprime lending meltdown. Who do you think was at fault?
a. Sarah: Predator lenders, darn right! Uhhhh … There was deception, there was greed, and there is corruption on Wall Street. John and I will get rid of that. A little platitudinous. Ugh. Never again will we be exploited by those who are managing our money and loaning us. We need to demand strict oversight. Let’s do what our parents told us. Personal responsibility as individuals! We have an opportunity to learn a heck of a lot of good lessons here! YES!!! Good!! Go, Sarah, go!
b. Joe: McCain was surprised about subprime mortgage and Obama was warning about it. “Deregulate” as if Wall St could self-regulate itself. John is wrong about that! And now he wants to do it for healthcare! Bring up Joey Someone. Focus will change with Barack Obama. Gov, you can argue this.
c. Sarah: You’re right about that … but these two voted 94 times to increase taxes! That’s not what we need to create jobs to bolster and heat up our economy! “Heat up.” Is that an AK term? Govt needs to learn to be more efficient. BO even supported increasing taxes for people making $42K a year! Biden seems to be laughing at her.
d. Joe: That is not true. John voted the same way. Using Sarah’s standard, John voted 477 times to raise taxes. Gov did not answer the question about deregulation. Did not defend John McCain. He did support deregulation almost across the board.
e. Go, Sarah, go! I eliminated taxes as an executive. As for John’s adherence to rules and regulations and pushing … Biden is laughing at her.
4. Raising taxes for people earning over $250,000 a year. Gwen is doing a good job.
a. Joe: Where I come from it’s called fairness, just simple fairness. Under McCain, 100 mil middle class families not a single break in taxes. No one of them will have taxes raised under BO. That sounds so good, but I don’t believe him. That’s the crux of the matter for me regarding taxes. I simply don’t believe him. 95% of the people making less than $150K will get a tax break. The econ engine of America is the middle class. John wants to add $300 bil tax dollars per year while doing nothing for the middle class. It’s fair. They deserve the tax breaks, not the super wealthy. They’ll pay no more than they did under RWR.
b. Sarah “redistribution of wealth.” Yes. Tell it like it is. BO’s plan—the millions of small businesses that will fit into that category. Fewer jobs, less productivity. Paying higher taxes is patriotic. That’s not patriotic! Good for bringing up that idiotic quote. It’s saying, govt too often you’re the problem. Get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive. BO’s way is the backwards way to growing the economy. Sarah did well here.
c. Palin on health: $5000 tax credit for families so they can purchase their … budget-neutral … universal “government-run” program. Good snipe at government. "That’s gonna help." He wants to erase the artificial lines between state—through competition we can cross state lines.”
d. Biden: We don’t call it redistribution to say that not giving Exxon another $4bil tax cut. We call it fairness. 95% of small businesses, their owners make less than $250,000. With regard to healthcare plan … how JM pays for tax credit: He taxes as income all of you who has a healthcare plan thru your employer. Biden is getting excited. He’s getting bullyish … maybe. C’mon Joe, you can do it. The “ultimate bridge to nowhere.”
5. What promises, given the week's events, what promises have you and your campaign made to Americans that you can’t keep?
a. Joe: Double foreign assistance may have to slow down. Make sure we do not go forward with tax cut proposals for people making over $250K. Not supporting $300b tax cut … he’s off the subject, not answering the question. Just saying what they’re not going to do. We are going to eliminate the wasteful spending in the government. $100b tax dodge—offshore accounts.
b. Sarah: John doesn’t keep changing what he tells people. Back to the energy plan: Obama voted for it. That’s what gave the oil companies their big tax breaks! In Alaska I had to tell them no. They’re not my biggest fans. I had to break up a monopoly. The people are going to come first. Joe is smiling. Laughing. Looking like he’s humoring her by being there. Or perhaps she's charmed him too.
c. Joe: Tax breaks. BO voted for an energy bill because it was support for alternative energy. BO voted to eliminate tax breaks for oil companies. Joe is doing well. He’s using numbers. He’s hammering the $4billion. Are those figures accurate?
6. Make it harder for debt-strapped mortgage holders to claim bankruptcy?
a. Sarah: We need to look back and appreciate John’s call for reform. We have John to thank for warning people and bipartisanly bringing people to the table to fix this econ problem we’re in. Does Sarah look like she’s going to cry? Geez, Sarah. Please don’t cry. Don’t act like me.
b. Joe: Mortgage holders didn’t pay the price. Only 10% of people … BO saw glass as half-empty, I as half-full. We disagreed. BO pointed out 2 years ago that there was a sub-prime crisis. There are ways to help people now, and the ways we’re offering are not being supported by the Bush admin and McCain/Palin. Yes, gotta throw in Bush.
c. Sarah: Back to energy. Disagrees with Biden, but goes back to energy. “East coast politicians” who won’t allow Alaska to produce energy! Energy independence is the key to this nation’s future. When we talk about energy plans, it’s not just about tax breaks, it’s about a heckuva lot more than that.
7. Let’s talk about climate change. What is true and what is false about the causes?
a. Palin: Alaska feels impact of climate change more than any. Man’s activities, also cyclical activities in the climate. How are we going to positively affect these impacts? That’s the real question. I’m not going to discuss the “why.” We need to do what we can—reduce emissions. That is another reason why we need to be energy-independent. “All of the above approach.”
b. Biden: I think it is totally man-made. Seriously? Probably the biggest fundamental difference: If you don’t understand what the cause is, you can’t come up with the solution. Good point, Joe. We have 3% of the oil reserves, consume 25% of oil. McCain has voted 20x against alternative energies. BO believes that alternative energy can help us create jobs and export it. We should export green technology.
8. Gwen: JM Caps on emissions; BO clean coal
a. Sarah: Drill baby drill. Talking about Alaska energy sources. She called him "Senator O’Biden." I like it! It is not RAPING the continental shelf if it is safe drilling. I do support capping carbon emissions.
b. Biden: About clean coal—look at my record for 25 years of supporting clean coal technology. Bottom line: How do we deal with global warming?
9. Do you support as they do in Alaska granting same-sex benefits to couples?
a. Biden: Absolutely positively. No distinction constitutionally. Visitation rights, joint ownership, life insurance policies.
b. Not if it goes closer to redefining one man/one woman. I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and friends. Some dear friends who don’t agree with me. No one would ever propose in our admin to prohibit visitation in a hospital, contracts, etc. I don’t support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman. Traditional definition of marriage.
10. Do you support gay marriage?
a. Joe: No. It’s a faith thing. I take her at her word re: civil rights distinction.
b. Sarah: I do not.
Gwen: Wonderful! You agree!
11. Iraq. Exit strategy?
a. Palin: Surge! Worked! I am thankful that that is part of a plan! Other ticket opposed the surge and funding troops. Biden I respected you when you called him out on that. Biden voted against it under political pressure. We cannot do early withdrawal. We have got to win in Iraq. Down to pre-surge numbers. More troops in Afghanistan. We cannot afford to lose against Al-Qaida but we are getting closer and closer to victory. Sarah did well here.
b. Biden: I didn’t hear a plan. BO has a plan. 16 months. Only odd man out is John McCain. John McCain voted the same way as BO! It had a timeline and John wouldn’t fund troops if it had a timeline. Well, yeah, but Joe's talking like McCain didn't want to support troops at all. No, Joe. But you have to have a timeline. $10bil a month. Iraqis have an $80bil surplus. JM sees no end in sight. Fundamental difference. That is WRONG.
c. Sarah: Your plan is a white flag of surrender! My jaw just dropped. Did she really say that? She did! We will leave when we are victorious. Re: McCain—at some point, you supported McCain! Good points by Sarah. Biden looks like he is having fun. BO … another story there.
d. Joe: JM voted to cut off funding for the troops. Let’s get straight who has been right and wrong. John McCain has been “dead wrong” on the fundamentals relating to the cont of this war.
12. Greatest threat? Nuclear Iran or unstable Pakistan?
a. Biden: Pak already has deployed nukes. They can hit Israel and the Mediterranean. Both very dangerous. Fundamental problem with John: he continues to tell us that war on terror is in Iraq. But Al Qaida is planning in hills of Afgah and Pak. Stable govt needs to be est in Pakistan. That is where Bin Ladin lives.
b. Palin: central: Petraeus and Al Qaida said that! Sarah says “nucular.” Aarrgghh. Refers to Ach, Kim Jong Il, Castro Brothers. BO’s naivete. Beyond poor judgment. BO should not meet with these without preconditions.
13. Some level of engagement with enemies. Do you think folks are wrong on that?
a. Sarah: Kissinger—passion for diplomacy. We would engage in that. But with some of these dictators—those who would try to destroy what we stand for cannot be met with. Biden is laughing at her. He looks amused. Or charmed?
b. Biden: Can I clarify? This is simply not true about BO. Yes it is. Liar liar pants on fire. It’s not about Ach’s control, it’s theocracy control. Now he’s ragging on Bush again. What makes you think the allies are going to sit with us? McCain said he wouldn’t even sit down with the govt of Spain! Joe is really mad about Spain!
14. What has this admin done right or wrong regarding Israel?
a. Palin: A two-state solution IS the solution. Israel is our strongest and best ally in the middle east. We will never allow a second holocaust. A two-state solution. Peace-seeking nation. It’s gotta be a commitment. I like how she says gonna, gotta, etc.
b. Joe: No one has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. This administration’s policy has been an abject failure. We were right every time about Hamas, Hezbollah. Fact is that this admin has been an abject failure. The only thing on the march is Iran. Biden is much more forceful, spewing out more hard details, but Sarah is holding her own.
c. Palin disagrees. I’m encouraged that we both love Israel. Enough is enough with your ticket with the blame game. There have been huge blunders … but, for a ticket that wants to talk about change, there’s just too much finger-pointing backwards. We will learn from the past mistakes of this administration. Partisanship aside, etc. Biden looks like he is having fun.
d. Joe: How will McCain’s policies be different from George Bush’s? How? How? How? Biden is doing well here. Even if what he’s saying isn’t true.
15. Interventionism, nukes: What should be the trigger for nuke use?
a. Palin: Be all end all of too many people, too many parts of our planet. Now can we talk about Afghanistan? Ha! I love it! The surge principles that have worked in Iraq need to be put into place in Afghan. There’s a difference. BO’s reckless comments hurt our cause. True.
b. Biden: Afghan: Facts matter, Gwen. Our commanding general in Afghan said today that the surge principles in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan. We need more troops, govt building, $$ on infrastructure. Repeating himself. He’s doing well. 3 weeks in Iraq, 6.5 years in Afghan. Re: nukes, McCain voted against comprehensive test ban treaty that GOP wanted. BO reached across aisle to Lugar, he worked with him on that. McCain has been opposed to
c. Palin: McClellan(?) did not exactly say that. Good response. Counter-insurgency principles—clearing, holding, rebuilding, can work in Afghan. Biden is laughing at her.
16. Darfur—does American public have stomach for this?
a. Biden: McCain opposed Bosnia, but it worked. I wish Sarah would do more of “That’s simply not true.” Sarah is smiling. Does she have a zinger?
b. Palin: Not used to the way you guys operate. Americans are cravin’ that straight talk. Pointing to the fact that he supported McCain and opposed Obama—good job! Go, Sarah, go! Sarah is so beautiful. Sexist of me to say, but it's the truth.
17. Is there a line that should be drawn about when we go in?
a. Biden: Yes. Do we have the capacity to go into there? Also, when countries are doing genocide, they give up their right to say we can’t come in. (Um ... Iraq?) BTW, I did NOT support McCain. Sarah is smiling. McCain was lock-step with Dick Cheney. I never supported McCain on the war.
b. Palin: I beg to disagree on whether you supported McCain … you can say what you want to say … pundits will give us the proof tomorrow. Sarah … is she nervous? “Taking the politics out of these war issues.” Good.
18. Presidency a heartbeat away. How would your administration be? What an awful, awful question.
a. Biden: I would carry out BO’s policies. Talking points. Good rhetoric.
b. Palin: “team of mavericks” … I'm glad "maverick" is not a drinking game since I have to work tomorrow. We can agree to disagree. He has never asked me to check my opinion at the door. I would continue the good work that he is so committed to. We need a little bitta reality from Wasilla Main Street. She's starting to sound a little too folksy to me.
c. Biden: He spends a lot of time at Home Depot? McCain agrees with Bush on everything. Middle class has gotten the short end.
d. Pointing backwards—there you go again, Joe. Ha! That was a Reagan thing! “Doggone it.” Is she a little too folksy? Education—the “extra credit” thing was a nice touch.
19. What does VP do?
a. Sarah: Lame attempt at a joke. “Nobody got it.” Of course we know what a VP does. Sarah is doing well. She’s much more charming than Biden. I think she’s outshining him. The "lame joke" quip was great.
b. Joe: NCLB—money was left behind. I have a history of getting things done in the Senate. I’ll be sitting in the room to give me my best advice when OB needs to make a decision. Independent judgment—that is my reputation. I plan to play a very constructive role in his presidency.
20. Do you agree that VP is not just executive, but also legislative?
a. Palin: Founding fathers were very wise. I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility and we’ll do what we have to do. Biden is laughing at her. Is he on his way to a gaffe? I wish he wouldn’t smirk like that.
b. Joe: VP Cheney has been the most dangerous VP we’ve had in American history. Primary role of VP is to support the Prez. Biden is giving a lecture-type thing and putting down Cheney.
21. Achilles’ heel—Sarah lacks experience, Joe lacks discipline
a. Palin: My experience will be put to good use! Good … she goes off on her experience and why it’s NOT an Achilles’ heel. Show 'em, girl.
b. Biden: I’m surprised you said that was my only Achilles’ heel. The modesty is charming here. Good job, Joe. Now he’s going into his strengths. I understand. I understand. His answer started out charming, but I'm not sure where he is going with this with single parenthood ... I think he may be teetering on the edge of gaffe-dom ...
c. Palin: Maverick. I wish she would quit saying “maverick.” Yadda yadda maverick yadda maverick.
d. Biden: McCain has been no maverick on the important things. He votes with Bush. He’s doing well, Biden is. Very forceful, good rhetoric.
22. Can you think of a single issue in which you were forced to change a long-held view in order to accommodate changed circumstances?
a. Biden: Talks about when he was really young. Refers to fight against Bork.
b. Times when I quasi-caved. But on major principle things, no—we always seem to find a way to work together.
23. Bipartisanship. How do you change the tone?
a. Biden: I believe McCain would acknowledge this: I have been able to work across the aisle.
b. Palin: Work with people regardless of party. I wish she wouldn’t bring up her “diverse” family … lots of people have those and it doesn’t make her special. But then maybe people like that.
24. Closing Statement
a. Palin: I like being able to speak to the American people, not filtered by the MSM. Good closing statement.
b. Biden: ... sorry, I got distracted.
No gaffes by Biden. Senator Biden had more substance, but Gov. Palin held her own on substance and she far outshined him in style. Neither of them answered every question directly. Sarah rocked tonight. Time for me to go to sleep!