Last night’s Vice Presidential debate between Senator Joe Biden and Alaska State Governor Sarah Palin wasn’t really a debate at all. Folks were mostly waiting to see if Ms. Palin would continue to display her dismal lack of basic knowledge about current affairs. Direct questions about American government, her running partner’s record, foreign affairs and even names of newspapers she reads have made her draw embarrassing blanks in recent limited live news interviews. Fortunately, the debate format allowed her to smile, ramble and gesture her way past the moderator’s general questions by just simply not answering them. Her well coached, folksy barrage of rehearsed talking points allowed her to hammer together mismatched topics and construct verbal Potemkin villages around her. Causal viewers wanting her to do well were probably happy with her repeated winks at the camera, pointing pistol finger gestures, and folksy circumlocution. After all, Minister Potempkin fooled Empress Catherine II with his handiwork.
The rookie small town politician shamelessly “corrected” senior Senator Biden on several occasions with her prepared rattle of talking points. Biden, ever the statesman, didn’t dignify her sophomoric attempts except a couple of times when he had to slowly and clearly run down a list of well known facts that deflated and debunked her flimsy attempts, including why McCain is simply not a “maverick.” During Biden’s thoughtful and knowledgeable presentation of his points and plans, Palin stared down at the her podium desperately scanning her talking point reminder notes to try to fill the her growing intellectual vacuum.
At the end of ninety minutes, sighs of relief could be heard from the GOP faithful. She had not committed any serious gaffes and was still smiling and perky! But nothing had really changed. Like a trained pony, she had made it around the ring. She jumped, pranced, performed just like she had been rehearsed and didn’t crap in the ring. Her ninety minute presence, more than anything, served to again display John McCain’s utter cynicism and political expediency in selecting such a lightweight flash in the pan to try to bail out his flagging campaign. Now we will wait to see how many Americans genuinely would willingly vote for a slick pony show.