Galena and I don't have TV, so we didn't get to watch the Veep debate live. But we just watched it off the Internet tonight, and I want to record my initial impressions. (We're actually still watching it – Galena's annoyed that I'm typing on the same computer we're using to watch the debate.)
- I thought Palin gave a phenomenal nomination speech at the RNC nomination. It was amazing.
- Palin embarrassed herself pretty badly in the Katie Couric interviews. Ouch.
- Palin didn't embarrass herself in the debates. She was far better than Admiral Stockdale, who very helpfully set the modern standard for embarrassment at the national level.
- Palin didn't impress me. Whenever Palin didn't know what to say to a question, she didn't try to answer it, or give it any thought; she transparently changed the topic. And of course, she was generally parroting canned answers, which I don't mind so much as I mind noticing it.
- Biden generally impressed me. In nearly every instance, gave a clear, concise, impressive answer. Of course he spun every answer, but that's just what you expect. Like Palin, he sometimes changed the topic when he didn't like it, but he generally did it after answering the question, rather than instead of answering the question. (The big exception was when he was asked which of his ticket's promises would have to be postponed due to the financial crisis. The answer he gave -- and which Palin also gave immediately afterwards -- was a complete weasel answer, and it almost made me turn the debate off.)
- I hated the format. The 90 second timeline forced each candidate to give sound-bite answers rather than anything remotely resembling a thoughtful response.
I'm rather depressed about McCain's strategy lately. I liked McCain initially because I really bought into the "maverick" rhetoric. I was impressed by the thoughtful answers he gave to tough questions, and by his unique ability to critique himself. But all of that has changed. I know why it's changed, of course: it wasn't working anymore. The press pretty much anointed Obama, and McCain simply couldn't get any airtime. During Obama's overseas trip in July, McCain could have stripped naked in Times Square and run around screaming "I hate America," and he wouldn't have made it past page 3. So I understand why he's changed strategy. But I like the old McCain more.