No one ever remembers when the trains run on time, but they never forget the breakdowns. In Thursday’s vice presidential debate, the trains ran on time.
“The operatives in these campaigns will be watching with their hearts in their throats,” CBS analyst Jeff Greenfield said shortly before Joe Biden and Sarah Palin took positions behind their podiums.
Palin had raised some alarm among Republicans wondering whether she truly was ready for prime-time after some bumbling interview performances, while Biden has a windy, unpredictable streak that terrifies campaign managers who like to stay relentlessly on message.
In the end, both fears proved unwarranted.
“Conservatives must be breathing a little easier tonight because Sarah Palin passed a test,” Donna Brazile said on ABC. “She did her homework. … Overall, there were no moose in the headlight moments.”
Greenfield used the same analogy, substituting deer for moose.
Palin returned to the folksy, “you betcha” style of straight talk that endeared her to people at the Republican convention, and displayed a well-coached command of the facts. She didn’t always answer questions, but turned that into a point of pride, saying she may not be answering the way Biden or moderator Gwen Ifill wanted to hear, but that “I’m going to talk straight to the American people.”
“Sarah Palin was threatening to become an embarrassment to the Republican ticket,” CNN analyst David Gergen said. “I think she erased that tonight.”
Biden, for his part, was respectful of Palin and steered clear of any hint of condescension.
“He decided he was not gonna take her on directly,” MSNBC’s David Gregory said. “She challenged him, she mocked him, she chided him. He decided to train his responses and just talk about (John) McCain’s record.”
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Meanwhile, Ifill’s ‘Objectivity’ a Non-Issue; 95% Say She Was Fair
*In other debate news, after all the hubbub over PBS’ Gwen Ifill being the moderator because of her upcoming book that includes content on Barack Obama, in retrospect, it was much ado about nothing.
To put things in perspective, Richard Prince, in his Journal-isms column wrote:
The vice presidential debate ended Thursday night with hardly a word in the instant commentary about moderator Gwen Ifill’s role, and much about Republican Sarah Palin’s performance, a sign that the right-wing drumbeat about Ifill’s supposed lack of objectivity failed to gain traction.
In a CNN poll of those who watched the debate, “Respondents overwhelmingly said moderator Gwen Ifill was fair . . . repudiating critics who said that Ifill, of PBS, would be biased because she is writing a book that includes Biden’s running mate, Sen. Barack Obama,” CNN said, referring to Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del.
“Ninety-five percent of those polled said Ifill was fair.”
As soon as the debate ended, the National Association of Black Journalists issued a statement commending its longtime member, saying she “served with resilience, grace and tenacity; the traits of an exemplary debate moderator.”
“Gwen set a steady hand, a sound voice and balanced tone through what became a civil debate between two history making rivals”, said NABJ President Barbara Ciara. “We’d expect nothing less from one of our country’s most highly-respected political journalists.”
Read more of Prince’s article here.