Joe Biden had a simple goal last night: Don’t screw up. Sarah Palin, by contrast, had to answer questions about her competence after a couple of wobbly media interviews. They both succeeded.
Sen. Biden answered crisply and demonstrated a solid grasp of most issues. He spoke with passion at times without losing control of himself. While I disagree with his liberal politics, my estimation of him went up. Perhaps people will start listening to him on the hustings. Perhaps he wasn’t such a bad choice after all.
The Alaska governor clearly has taken some of her coaching to heart: Master the key issues but don’t get bogged down; don’t answer the question (at least not directly); answer with the message you want to convey; and bring out the feistiness and charm.
Palin had to make people see her as a plausible vice president or (God forbid) president. If she did, perhaps the ticket can recapture some of its magic. Many people who want to vote for this hockey mom will now feel safer in doing so.
In the end, I’d call this exchange a draw. That may not be enough for the Republicans with only a month to go and their sinking poll numbers. They still need what’s being bandied about as a “game changer.” Something will have to happen, nationally or internationally, to snap Americans out of their Obama trance. That’s a bad place to be at this point in the campaign.