1. Feeling It
There are hockey moms and there are single dads.
The tone of last Thursday’s debate completely shifted in the last five minutes when Joe Biden became emotional about his family. Until then, it seemed Palin would clearly emerge on top through her continuous eye-contact with the camera and her cloying engagement of the home audience with the “you-and-me against him-and-Washington” schtick.
But Biden’s escape from Washington-speak shifted the whole basis of comparison. His emotion in the last few minutes set up a new measure, between genuine feeling and folksiness. If Palin was winning the audience up to that point, the difference in emotional depth would not have escaped anyone.
2. Family Affair
Sleeper highlight of the evening?
Surprisingly, it was how the Biden family neutralized the PR power of the Palin family in the post-debate milling around. Who woulda’ thought? Thursday night’s “post game” visuals recast the RNC Palin family extravaganza (1, 2, 3) as just that, an overly self-conscious series of manufactured photo-ops.
If partly calculated, it was also touching the way the Biden clan hung out with Gwen Ifill in light of the pounding she took from conservative pundits the past few days.
3. Reading And Writing
Palin, the former sportscaster, did an impressive job sounding spontaneous while working from a combination of rote memory, as well what seemed like both pre-written and written notes. The delivery was pretty good, although the lack of follow-up questions allowed her to avoid most specificity and change the subject at will. If you watched Palin when she wasn’t speaking though, you’ll see she spent almost the entire debate making notes.
(Like Bush, I think Palin is probably quite skilled at working off a combination of memory and a written script. Apparently, she thought she could get away with same in the Couric interview, but didn’t expect follow-ups asking for specifics and examples.)