Joseph Biden won 51 percent to 36 percent over Sarah Palin among undecided voters in an early CNN poll based on random sampling, and yet…
On MS-NBC, Patrick Buchanan kept talking about how Palin won hands down, connecting with ordinary Americans in her folksy way.
Charlie Rose’s panel On PBS came to the happy accord that it was a draw.
Anderson Cooper’s panel voted that Obama won handily, but Ed Rollins, the lone holdout who conferred a lopsided victory on Palin, dominated the primetime analysis, insisting that Palin won bigtime.
On fair and balanced Fox, meanwhile, a text-messaging poll in which the network’s famously biased audience keyed in their opinions in one of the most rigged polls I’ve ever witnessed, Palin won by… let’s see, 85 percent to 12 percent ! last time I jotted down results, long about midnight.
And so it went. For the second week in a row, undecided voters overwhelmingly judged the Democratic candidate the dramatic winner of a debate and still mainstream media insisted on calling it a draw. One of these days such handicapping will come back to haunt the world in tragic fashion. Wups, you’re right. It already did. In 2000. Again in 2004. Think of the lives saved, the treasure preserved, species rescued, had the media not settled on narratives that disguised the ineptitude, mistaken notions and perverse ambitions of George W. Bush, maybe the worst president of all time. But I digress.
Even with a horse-race mentality dominating media, however, all polls that matter are swinging Obama’s way.
I admit I’m biased. Heck I could even be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Biden won. In a nutshell, here’s why:
First, he won in the polls, but let’s play the MSM game of setting those aside.
Biden was on the side of science when asked about global warming, one of many subjects Palin danced around, denying there’s a human cause, yet suggesting we should curb greenhouse gases anyway, for unspecified reasons. Huh?
Biden was on the side of history when it came to war in Iraq, while Palin fell back on cliches about victory–without bothering to define it–while accusing Obama of "waving the white flag of surrender" and not "supporting the troops." Biden chewed such allegations up, pointing to McCain’s own votes that could be twisted and characterized as "not supporting the troops" and serving up a history lesson about why the main front in the war on terror shouldn’t even be in Iraq.
Biden answered all questions head on, while Palin talked free-form, without even bothering to answer at least half the questions Ifill posed. For instance, when asked to describe the McCain plan for disengaging from Iraq, Palin used the opportunity to belittle Obama’s rejection of the Surge. When asked to name her own Achilles Heel, she seemed unfamiliar with the concept.
Biden answered such questions with specificity, pointing out, for instance that, when it comes to tax dollars, we spend as much every three weeks in Iraq as we’ve spent in nearly seven years in Afghanistan.
It’s true Palin helped herself. Polls reflect that many voters thought so, but it was mostly just by showing up and not, say, falling off the stage. Ifill helped by not asking her about witchcraft or the Rapture or Supreme Court decisions or Troopergate, and Biden was gentlemanly enough not to call her on recent faux pas.
Palin had dug herself in deep in recent weeks, calling McCain’s judgment into question with each snafu she made. The country had taken to laughing at the GOP ticket, thanks in part to Letterman and SNL and Jon Stewart, and once the people begin laughing there’s not much anyone can do for you. Palin’s public performances had been so week that many predicted disaster in this debate. Instead, she acquitted herself well enough–barely–to allow McCain to fight another day.
Unfortunately for McCain the tide of this election is not likely to turn, barring an October Surprise of monster proportions. Not to be glib but the economic crisis has been manna from heaven for Obama’s political purposes. It’s crystalized issues, reminding us all that Republicans have been at the helm during four fiascos–9/11, War in Iraq, the Katrina debacle, and now the banking crisis. Recent polls track a swing of 15 to 20 points in Obama’s favor, and many battleground states–Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida–are falling into his column as Election Day draws near.