I'm writing this freshly after watching the vice presidential debate, before I have my impressions polluted by the media, or forget what I saw.
Wow, what a role reversal.
I was surprised to see Joe Biden attacking John McCain every chance he got, while Sarah Palin stuck to her guns and talked about what her principal would do, sort of.
A word about Joe Biden: he likes lists. They're not always organized too well, but he used them constantly during his answers for effect, though I think that it just tired the American public. If I got one thing out of the whole of the debates so far it's that Joe Biden knows more about foreign policy than any of the other candidates, principals or veeps. It is clear to see that Obama chose him for his knowledge of these situations and for his advice. This was responsible on Obama's part. His constant attack on McCain's voting record, an addendum to every question answered seemed a bit like he was either willing or instructed to do what Obama wouldn't dare do to McCain. He did keep it civil towards Mrs. Palin, and never called her on her lack of experience.
But then again, he didn't need to.
I now have one more reason to vote for Barack Obama, however: Sarah Palin. How this inexperienced knucklehead ever got the McCain ticket will be an endless source of speculation among pundits, but I'll tell you that it wasn't for her debating skills. She had three common answers to everything, but I'll just briefly paraphrase them here:
1.) "I'm middle class; I've been there."
2.) "We need to take care of the greed on Wall Street."
3.) "I've worked my whole political career decreasing taxes."
These answers were frequently interposed with the term "Maverick," which Mrs. Palin used no less than six times before Joe Biden finally got fed up (as I was at that point) and said that on the important issues McCain always voted along party lines (citing examples via list form), so that's not much of a Maverick. I got sick of McCain inferring himself as such and I don't like it any more when I hear his puppet spouting the same nonsense.
Another irritating trait, which can be attributed to Palin's speaking skills, is that she tends to use big words two or three times in short succession - sometimes in the same sentence such as (paraphrasing), "My experience is that my experiences in being governor of Alaska is that I know what my experiences are." I noticed her doing this a lot when Biden launched some attacks at McCain's voting record on Afghan diplomacy. It seems to happen when she's backed into a corner. In a way, it's like the George W. Bush defence; you wouldn't punch a mentally infirmed person (how that moron ever got through the Kerry debates without polarizing the entire nation against him is a question I'll be asking for years), and you wouldn't attack a cute kitten even when it's spouting irrelevant rhetoric. She gets more "mom talking to a baby-like" when she's cornered or the three-by-five one-sided index card that all of her talking points are written on fail her.
Speaking of her talking points, there was one segment where her answer was almost verbatim what John McCain had said last week. I know that most of these jokers don't write their own speeches or debate questions, but that's just lazy, especially when it was contradicted with the same facts a second time in a row.
As for Gwen Ifill: She seemed to be a pretty objective moderator, given the circumstances. Still, I know in my gut that Biden went over the time repeatedly, but she only ever stepped in to cut off Palin (though given Palin's desperate diarrhea-of-the-mouth it might have just been to save the patience of the audience. who knows?).
I'm starting to see that the debate between both parties is highly dubious: Obama/Biden talks about fixing Main Street, even though it doesn't seem feasible that they could do it without raising taxes. McCain/Palin talks of fixing Wall Street, even though history has shown that their party is intimately in bed with them.
One thing that has been pissing me off about the Republicans' foreign policy talk is that they keep referring to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad like he is a dictator who holds his people in place with fear, when the real fact is that Ahmadinejad (giving my spellchecker a workout) is becoming more powerless in his own country by the day because of all the crazy things he says. It's been speculated and confirmed in talks with Iranian citizenry that he is unpopular with both the crazy religious zealots and with the level-headed educated communities, and not likely to have any real power in the near future. His babble is mostly to rile the United States into action so that he can say, "See, I told you so."
Also on the used toilet paper that passes for the Republican doctrine is that the terrorists "hate our freedoms, and our promotion of democracy," when what they really hate is that we keep going in, toppling semi-stable tribal governments to put a puppet dictator in place who oppresses them just so that we can take care of our own assets (read: oil and aircraft bases) in the region. Alternatively, they could take exception to how we fund their terrorist activities until it becomes public knowledge that we did so, causing us to pull out and them to fight their (now more formidable) enemies alone. Seeing the number of jackasses in this country who still listen to Alan Jackson, have mullets, or vote for the candidate that is against abortion (yet still for the death penalty) even though it has been a dead issue for decades, I can see where they would be confused.
It's going to be an interesting four-to-eight years either way.