Palin v. Biden: Reviews from the right

As a friend told me on the phone last night, when the liberals are again spitting up on themselves during TV interviews, you know Sarah Palin did well in the debate against Joe Biden.

Nothing she was going to do or say during last night’s vice presidential debate was going to change any minds for the group hoping to usher in the Age of Aquarius – I mean the age of Obama. For their reviews, scan the dial and the newspaper columns and the left wing blogs. For your convenience, here are a few of the comments made by folks who were probably going to vote against Obama-Biden even if Joe and Barack weren’t gaffe machines.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Bill Whittle, National Review

“I do think that his reactions toward Palin ELEVATED her somehow. He seemed to regard her with real affection at times, and I didn’t get any of the sneering condescension I got with Charlie and Katie. His ability to laugh with her was the first time I have seen ANY Democrat or media maven treat her with anything more than veiled contempt. It was good to watch…

When I hear a politician say things like ‘doggone it!’ or ‘her reward is in heaven,’ well, it just makes me feel good. Biden skillfully twisted most everything Obama has actually done – that’s a good lawyer.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gerald Seib, Wall Street Journal

“[I]n what must surely rank as one of the more candid professions by a national political candidate, she simply declared that she wasn’t going to worry too much about answering the questions she was asked, but would say what she wanted to say: ‘I may not answer the questions the way that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let ’em know my track record also.’ …

And it’s doubtful that any other candidate has ever smiled so much or so readily while walking through paces. Even when she chastised Sen. Biden for likening drilling for oil offshore to “raping” the outer continental shelf, she did it with a smile.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

John J. Pitney, Jr., National Review

“She bolstered Republican morale in other ways, too. In politics as in war, you have to rally the troops against an opponent. You also have to pick the right target. Focusing her fire on Biden would not have helped much, since most Republicans don’t have strong feelings about him. Instead, she went after the One. During the debate, she nodded to Biden while throwing verbal daggers at Obama:

  • ‘Barack Obama voted against funding troops there after promising that he would not do so. And Sen. Biden, I respected you when you called him out on that. You said that his vote was political and you said it would cost lives.’
  • ‘You also said that Barack Obama was not ready to be commander in chief. And I know again that you opposed the move he made to try to cut off funding for the troops and I respect you for that.’

As she did at the Republican convention, she reminded people at the grassroots that she is one of them. ‘I think we need a little bit of reality from Wasilla Main Street there, brought to Washington, D.C.’ Once again, the liberal elites will sneer at her background as a hockey mom and small-town mayor. The more they sneer, the more they’ll fire up the Republican volunteers.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard

“For sure, she did one remarkable thing aside from handling Biden with ease. She undid the negative impression that had been created by her avoidance of most of the media and hardened when the two TV interviews went poorly. Her image was that of someone unqualified to be vice president and uninformed on major issues.

Changing an image overnight is difficult. Ronald Reagan managed it when he debated President Jimmy Carter in 1980 and blew away the widespread notion that he was a warmonger. But I can’t think of other examples of this, at least in presidential or veep debates…

Palin appeared to be in a good mood during the debate, just as she was when delivering her acceptance speech at the Republican convention four weeks ago. That made her more appealing than Biden, who came off, at times anyway, as less cheerful than he normally is.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

National Review editorial

“Gov. Sarah Palin, once again, confounded her critics with a strong performance. She did it at the Republican convention, and she did it again last night in her debate with Sen. Joe Biden. She performed with poise and charm. She effectively made the case that Senator Obama would be naïve in foreign policy and harmful to economic growth, and that Senator McCain would be a common-sense reformer. She handled questions about Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran well. She connected domestic-policy arguments to the  lives of average voters. Anyone who hoped – or feared – that she would fall flat on her face was proven wrong.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal

“She killed. She had him at ‘Nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe?’ She was the star. He was the second male lead, the good-natured best friend of the leading man. She was not petrified but peppy.

The whole debate was about Sarah Palin. She is not a person of thought but of action. Interviews are about thinking, about reflecting, marshaling data and integrating it into an answer. Debates are more active, more propelled-they are thrust and parry. They are for campaigners. She is a campaigner. Her syntax did not hold, but her magnetism did. At one point she literally winked at the nation.

As far as Mrs. Palin was concerned, Gwen Ifill was not there, and Joe Biden was not there. Sarah and the camera were there. This was classic “talk over the heads of the media straight to the people,” and it is a long time since I’ve seen it done so well, though so transparently. There were moments when she seemed to be doing an infomercial pitch for charm in politics. But it was an effective infomercial.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Alvin S. Felzenberg, National Review

“Palin did more than what she had to do. She not only ended the debate still standing, but got off some of the evening’s lightest moments.

She was gracious to her opponent, but firm. Her three Reagan references were on the mark. Her “there you go again” was a home-run. Even Biden laughed. How can one talk change and keep talking about Bush?

Win or lose, McCain did the nation and the Republican party a great service when he set his sights on America’s north country. In Palin, America saw the face of the future, beaming with optimism, hope, and love of country. It is learning to like what it sees. In Biden, they see the tired, washed out face of yesterday. One could almost sense the Gipper looking down smiling.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *