The News: The Great Veep Debate was held yesterday evening, billed as "Palin vs. Biden" as if it were some World Federation Wrestling match. When it was over, most of the insta-comment called it a draw, although most of the insta-polls gave it to Biden 65-35 or thereabouts.
The Note: Given that these debates are Non-Substantive Occasions (NSO), Palin clearly won; not simply because she "held her own" without making a complete ass of herself, but because she is a great communicator, a runner up to the Great Ronnie himself.
First off, Palin had culled and organized her bumper stickers. That's more than anyone can say for Bush who simply blabbers sound bites with little regard for consistency and coherence.
Second, Palin's sound-bites resorted to tried and tested clichés that sell-well with the American demos. Bush's sound bites have largely resorted to unfamiliar themes of fear and revenge that most Americans feel vaguely uncomfortable with once the Yeeehaw Moment has passed. Palin reverted to the Golden Granola Morning motifs of the Great Ronnie. To the extent that there was an edge, it was the ol' "... if Govmint caint help it can at least git outta da way..." What can be more American than, "Awwwww Mom... I can do it myself."
Third, Palin "connected" with her audience, with her twinkle eye-lash batting, teasing smiles and little bang-shakes of the head. She came across as "genuine," and "earnest" and -- this is key -- not self-important. In fact, her presence had an aura of self-humour about it that said "this is totally crazy for me to be here, but heck it's fun." Not since Ronnie has anyone been able to connect with the Vast of America in this down home, upbeat way.
I should be clear, that if a woman or a job applicant came on to me the way Palin was coming on to Us Folk, I'd say, "Save your time, honey, save your time." But then again, Ronnie never did much for me either. Hell, I couldn't even sit through Kings Row without reaching for the Bromo.