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My thoughts on the VP debate.

By Isabel Kallman

By Alice Bradey
I watched the debate last night, as so many did, with great interest, and the three-quarters-written other column I had prepared for this week promptly got thrown out the window. Because this morning there’s not much else I can think of.
First off, let me just say this: I want my audience to be able to express their opinions here, even if they differ from my own. I welcome dissent, as long as it’s civil. Any opinion I express is strictly my own, and just as I’d like to be respected, I intend to respect yours as well.
This is probably not the most original sentiment floating around on the Internet, but I share it, so I’ll repeat it: Sarah Palin is frightening. I looked into her eyes last night, and I saw the glint of someone who believes she can win. And that scared me.
Before last night I mostly felt sorry for her. I read the numerous calls, including the one from the National Review, calling for her to step down. Of course I saw the interview with Katie Couric, and the dramatic reenactment on SNL. It was obvious that she was completely out of her depth, and as she was unable to answer question after pointed question, I have to admit that I looked forward to the debate with increasing glee.
I should have known better. The thing about a debate is, the questions are sort of beside the point. You can get away with evasion and sticking to your talking points or just devastating the audience with your charm and good looks, and no one calls you on the fact that that you didn’t answer the question. The debate moderator isn’t going to press you again and again, as Couric did, for a single concrete example of the nonsense you’re spouting. You’re up there at the podium, she’s all the way down there, and you have the floor. The content is yours to direct.
So we all know that Sarah Palin was coached heavily in the days leading up to the debate. I half-expected her to lurch up to the podium shouting random numbers and facts. But as soon as she started talking, I realized the numbers and the facts (much less the depth of knowledge and wisdom that, in my opinion, Joe Biden embodies) don’t matter. What matters is that she smiled straight at the camera and charmed American with her plain talkin’ and gosh-darn common sense. So even though she didn’t say a single thing that would indicate that she really knows what she was talking about, her performance was declared a success.
Why is it a success because she didn’t embarrass herself or McCain? Why is this okay in the eyes of the pundits? Every time she beamed and winked at the camera, the experts should have been listening even more closely to the complete lack of substance behind her words, but instead they were charmed. She tossed out her favorite words hither and yon—maverick reform, reform maverick, oversight, MASSIVE OVERSIGHT—with little regard for their meaning or applicability to the subject at hand. As far as actual content, all I got out of anything she said was that global warming isn’t wholly man-made and that 20 million of us will lose our health insurance under a McCain presidency. But she smiled her pretty smile, so that’s a triumph?
I am truly appalled, and I think this entire exercise was an insult to feminism. Instead of trying to show the experience and knowledge that she claimed to have, Palin and her coaches clearly decided that the best thing for her to do is just flirt with America. Just flirt, and hope no one notices that she’s completely and utterly out of her league. It wasn’t just an insult to feminism–it was an insult to the intelligence of the American people. Her nomination was a cynical move, and this was the ultimate expression of that cynicism. John McCain showed his disdain for us all with his choice of vice president, and his team showed their disdain for us by having Sarah Palin bypass substance and head straight for empty-headed charm.
In the eyes of the pundits last night, this constitutes a success. I think it constitutes a potential nightmare in the making.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.


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Isabel Kallman
About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of Alphamom.com.

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

...

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of Alphamom.com.

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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Erin
Guest
Erin

I have a headache today, mainly from the wine I drank last night to get through the debate, but also from cringing each and every time she said “doggone it” or “you betcha” or winked (WINKED!) at the camera.
She was charming in a folksy, saccharine way that will resonate with people who have already decided on McCain, who have already fallen in love with Palin, who think George W. has done a heckuva job these last eight years and that we need more.
I only hope there aren’t enough of those people to make a difference come November.

Amy in StL
Guest
Amy in StL

I actually looked forward to the debate as a chance to get to see her now that she’s had an opportunity to be brought up to speed on current affairs. I was horrified when she winked at the camera last night. Someone actually asked me if she’s running for VP or First Flirt? She is a disappointment to me, as a woman. I knew girls like her in school, and those girls weren’t competent or smart. They were pretty and street-smart and that’s how they got ahead. They plowed over everyone else and then someone came behind and cleaned up… Read more »

Ariel
Guest
Ariel

I’m sorry to say, but I agree with you WHOLEHEARTEDLY….

lmayes
Guest

I watched the debates last night in a very crowded pub (of mostly guys), and except for the debate playing on four TVs, you could have heard a pin drop. The majority were clearly for the Obama/Biden ticket, but it was interesting to watch them melt a bit as the debate went on. They were charmed. With whatever it is she is doing (and who the hell knows what she’s thinking). The same things that are making me visibly cringe (my intuition is on overdrive here, people) are melting them into third-grade boys. Fascinating. What is it w/ guys and… Read more »

erica
Guest
erica

Not surprising that the Republican strategy was to keep things general, on the offense, and to turn up the folksy charm. I sat in a room filled with ardent liberals, and they tore out their hair every time Biden made a tiny ‘mistake.’ By the end, they were doing shots, hoping to drown out their disappointment. I abstained for two reasons: 1) Palin didn’t ‘win’ the debate when it comes to content. 2) I’m pregnant. What I can see is an electoral vote map that is skewing increasingly Democrat. I never thought I’d live to see the day when Texas… Read more »

SuburbanCorrespondent
Guest

Scariest thing I ever saw….I would have respected her if she had realized after the Couric interview that she was out of her depth and gracefully resigned for “family reasons.” Instead, she chose to blame the mainstream media for portraying her as a dimwit. And she preaches to us about taking personal responsibility! If Palin truly loved America, she would step down. But what she loves is herself and power. The GOP may have thought they were using her to draw female voters; but she will have the last laugh, because she is using the GOP on her climb to… Read more »

SuburbanCorrespondent
Guest

I’m back. Sorry. Does anyone else see the incredible resemblance between this woman and George Bush? Her approach to foreign policy, energy, and domestic issues is almost identical to our current President’s (unlike McCain). Do we really want someone like that in charge of the country again?
If McCain is elected, I will be praying nightly for his continued good health.

Issa
Guest

She scares me. It scares me that she really has no idea about what is going on in the world, but it scares me more that she can BS extremely well. I had to stop watching last night, it was making me sick. Her giving her rehearsed answers and not answering the questions asked, was obvious to me. But to the US at large, I just am not sure that it was obvious. I hope so, god I really hope so. But I wonder. Like my aunt says, well she seems really nice. My aunt, could care less about the… Read more »

SZ
Guest
SZ

I’ve got one word for you: nucular.

Cobwebs
Guest

I think the scariest part was the “what if the President dies in office” question. She smiled when she answered it, and then went on to say that she wanted the VP to have more power, a la Cheney. I’m beginning to think that she’s counting on McCain to die in office. (Also, did anybody notice that her Reagan quote wasn’t about freedom in general, but what he said would happen if Medicare was enacted?) I agree with you that her flirtation-over-substance approach set feminism back a few steps, but not that the debate was a victory for her. If… Read more »

sheila
Guest
sheila

I agree. The entire Sarah Palin issue is insulting and embarrassing to women and Americans in general. She is clearly out of her league, and now that she has started to speak, I’m more confused by her than ever. I have an incredibly difficult time following a single sentence. Nothing makes sense anymore! Also, what is up with the debates? What good is it to me that these people stand up there and mislead and misquote and give false facts? There are so many ‘what was said, what is actually true’ articles the day after…for both sides. I admit this… Read more »

Torrie
Guest

Once again Alice, you have said what I wanted to say, but much more eloquently than I ever could.
Thank you.

kms
Guest
kms

Yes, her confidence in the belief that she’d actually be good at this job just boils my blood. Her lack of humility. Her clear desire for nothing but power. So what if she has a uterus! She is more like W than I ever thought imaginable. W is good in a debate. But he is crap in an interview and can’t take questions from the media because he just isn’t smart. And! She wants to expand the responsibility of the Vice President. That statement alone made it difficult for me to sleep last night. I just gave the Obama campaign… Read more »

Superfantastic
Guest

The frightening similarity I saw to George W. Bush was her refusal to answer any weakness and any issue on which she had changed her mind. In fact, she answered the question about whether she’d ever changed her mind about anything with comments about “not having to compromise”. So learning about an issue and realizing that you were wrong equates with compromise. There are Republican women who, while not making me any more likely to vote for McCain, could have made me proud to have a woman on the ticket for such a high office. As it is, I feel… Read more »

Deirdre
Guest
Deirdre

I’m a registered Republican (and boy, is that ever an unpopular thing to be these days) but I don’t know that I’ll be voting for the McCain/Palin ticket. I can’t say I was scared by last night’s debate, but I do find the media attention lavished on her completely baffling. I mean who can even concentrate on McCain and Obama, the people who are actually running for present with this Palin obsession? From the moment she was announced as the nominee for VP, she’s been handled differently by the media than I ever recall a presidential or vice-presidential candidate being… Read more »

Amy
Guest

I got the sense throughout that Joe Biden was stifling either laughter or the urge to leap across the stage and strangle Sarah Palin throughout the debate. I also noticed the heavy reliance on the “cute” factor, and it turned my stomach. My overall impression is that Sarah Palin is the female equivalent of George W. Bush.

uncouthheathen
Guest

I’d like to also point out to SuburbanCorrespondent that she is also unable to correctly pronounce the word “nuclear,” much like a certain president.

caro
Guest

And did you hear Geraldine Ferraro’s comment’s afterwards? Basically applauding her for showing “a woman” can “go toe to toe” with the likes of Joe Biden. Insulting.

Mom101
Guest

You took the words right out of my mouth Alice. I give her a solid A- for reading index cards written by someone else. I give her a big FAIL for what she really needed to do in this debate, which is prove to the American people that she has the insight, experience, understanding and vision to lead us out of crisis. It was like watching a world leader debate the student council candidate and I’m furious that the GOP thinks that this is the best the American people deserve for leadership. As for the winking? Appalling. Just horrible in… Read more »

Sheila
Guest
Sheila

Every commentator I heard spoke of Palin’s “performance” during the debate, which sums it all up for me in one word. I do not want any performers in or near the White House.

Elise
Guest
Elise

Brilliant summary. For me the scary thing isn’t Sarah Palin or the antics of the McCain campaign in trying to win this election. That’s politics as usual and one would expect nothing less. What I find frightening is that the American public prefers the flirting over knowledge and experience. There is something deeply wrong with this country and its citizens, who are so eager to be seduced by a pretty white female face so that they don’t have to vote for the smart educated black man.

Maggie
Guest
Maggie

Not only do I agree with what you said, but HELLO? Can SOMEONE tell the Republicans how to pronounce nuclear????
Please?
And why did she insist on having that baby out for a photo opp at 11pm? That’s insane.

Sharon
Guest

I watch PBS for these things because I think they give the most balanced coverage. I was shocked to see that even David Brooks is drinking the republican kool-aid. I was stunned that he had favorable things to say about Palin, many of the same comments about how she was warm and peppy and able to talk in complete sentences. Seriously? The only thing I can imagine is that republicans have nothing to lose and have decided to put all their energy into making up what they wish was true, that Palin was competent. In the meantime, McCain has pulled… Read more »

Linda
Guest
Linda

I could not sit still during the debate. I watched but I had to be doing something, anything, to keep from giving into the fear that she was probably charming the pants off some folks. Unfortunately, she seems to have charmed alot of folks if you read the various media outlets. Biden was on point and in the game; giving us information and not just rah, rah, rah. I am terrified about our future.

Kimberly
Guest
Kimberly

I love reading you, Alice, as I think you are smart and funny and often right on point. This time you have got it wrong, in my humble opinion. I think Palin is a refreshing change from the spin-meister who has had 30 years in the Senate to polish his method of throwing out random facts, some of which were just wrong, and making it seem like he knows what he is talking about. I think Palin does know what she is talking about, and I am not sure why anyone thinks that an interview with a news anchor, which… Read more »

Eva
Guest

What little she did say that made any kind of sense or had any substance was alternately scary (what, she wants to take over the Senate now?) or contradictory (so she wants states to be their own fiefdoms, but she also wants us to shop around, state by state, to get the insurance coverage we want? Do YOU want to drive to another state whenever you need a doctor. And it was just so unprofessional and rude to dismiss the questions. Basically, if she didn’t have a good little pat speech down for it, she just went to something that… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Except that Biden did the same thing. And so did both McCain and Obama in their debate. Except we expect a woman to be better than a man just to call herself his equal. Why? Because she’s a woman she has to represent the entire feminist movement? No wonder we haven’t had a female or black president yet, if they can’t compete as themselves, but instead are weighed down by a “movement”. And the advantage goes to the white male that can compete on a level playing field without generations of baggage dragging them down.

Brian
Guest

The last leader we elected because we thought he was a regular guy, just like us, cost us thousands of young lives. I wonder what this one would do.

caramama
Guest

I completely agree with your take on the debates. The saddest part to me is that it worked. So many people (I think mainly republicans) thought that she did a great job and really held her own. Nevermind that she avoided answer questions, couldn’t deviate from her script, and resorted to a vacant smile when she didn’t seem to understand.
Very scary.

Kris
Guest

She is incredibly frightening to me. I really agreed last night when Chris Matthews said something along the lines that she shows the same lack of interest in knowledge that George Bush does. As a woman, as a mother, there is nothing more insulting than this woman using everything but her brains to help them win.
I am surprised that I haven’t heard a single pundit remark on her inability to pronounce nuclear. Would that be considered being too harsh on her?

jenalda
Guest
jenalda

Speak it, sister. She terrifies me, and the response of many people to her terrifies me. I do see the similarities between her and good ol’ “W,” and though I think she’s out of her depth, I think she is shrewd in a way that W is. They both know that the folksy, so-called straight-talk, common sense persona is a winner, and Palin has damn sure figured out that combining that with her sex appeal makes her a compelling candidate for a lot of people even if she’s lacking in the experience and expertise that most political candidates have. Oy.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I don’t think calling her out on using Charm is much of an argument–people loved JFK for his charm, and liken Obama to him for that same reason. He resonates with people. I don’t agree with his position on the role of government in my life, so will not vote for him, but I cannot deny that he’s charming and attractive–one of the reasons the media loves him so. It was a lack of charm and ability to talk to people that hurt both Gore and Kerry. While it might seem shocking that men would fall for such tactics, women… Read more »

Robin
Guest

I am in complete agreement with you Alice. I talked about this issue on my blog today as well because after watching the debates last night, I literally could not sleep. The idea that her flirty, winky, folksy ways are enough to sway a majority of voters to vote for the McCain/Palin ticket frightens me so badly that I find myself turning again and again to politics on my blog. I suppose getting so many Americans to think, and talk, and God-willing become informed about the issues is the one positive aspect she has brought to this race.

Grace
Guest
Grace

NU CLEEE ARRRRRRR Sarah Palin as a leader? I don’t think so. I would love to have dinner with her, go hunting with her, even shadow her on a day as a person in an EXECUTIVE position of a large, sparsely populated state with abundant natural resources. It’s a joke to even bring feminism into this conversation. Completely laughable. She is using all the benefits that women were beaten to death for (ever see Iron Jawed Angels?) and taking a huge crap on it. She was plucked too soon, folks. I’ll give her another chance to reconsider that Jesus didn’t… Read more »

Grace
Guest
Grace

And another thing.
Folksy people don’t have a net worth of over 1 Million dollars.

Slim
Guest
Slim

Could someone please let me know why Sarah Palin is worrying about paying for college. One kid in the service, one about to be a parent — it’s not that I think every kid needs to go straight from high school to four years of college, but higher education does not appear to be a Palin family priority, so how exactly is she relating to those of us for whom it is? I am similarly baffled by the claim that she knows what it’s like for those of us juggling parenthood and a career. Show of hands, please: How many… Read more »

Rene
Guest
Rene

She was clearly well prepared by her team during her week at debate camp. She stuck to her republican rhetoric very well, even when it had nothing to do with the question. I heard Karl Rove say that the debate was a chance for her to get back what she had in Ohio and at the convention because she is very good at “just talking to people.” But I think that means she’s very good at just memorizing. Because how can standing on a stage behind a podium and reading from a script be more like “just talking to people”… Read more »

HeyJoe
Guest

In truth I watched hoping she would try to distract us by removing her clothing.
I was naturally disappointed to only receive a wink.

Anomymous
Guest
Anomymous

I think she did okay. As a supporter of hers, I think she could’ve done a better job, but she and Biden both kept it civil. A civil debate is a boring debate, but at least both sides can stay likeable. I think this nonsense that she frightens you is ridiculous. What is it that frightens you exactly? If her performance as a governor are indicative of how well she does her job, then she is very capable. Look at her record, it speaks for itself. She has not pushed public policy based on her personal beliefs, even down to… Read more »

abby
Guest
abby

Thank you, Alice. Very scary. I really hope that I am underestimating the ‘Joe six-pack’s’ out there and that they are a free-thinking body who will make the right decision for our country come November 4. I live in a (choke)red state in the heart of the bible belt, and I usually have a hard time finding people who support and agree with my politics. I’m proud that people, for the most part, are standing up and will, hopefully, choose a ticket that actually stands for change. Instead of just jumping on the change bandwagon because it’s been effective.

Nicole
Guest
Nicole

If I lived anywhere other than the Bible-Belt I would be considered conservative, but since I don’t most people I know consider me liberal. In actuality, I’m independent with tendencies to the right. In theory, I’m the voter that both McCain and Obama want. I was originally excited by both candidates, but in the end was leaning more towards McCain; that is until he picked Palin. It was not his smartest move to date. Everyone talks about how he was afraid of losing the party’s conservative base. But in reality that would never happen, the uber-conservatives, who Palin appeals to,… Read more »

Liz
Guest
Liz

Did anyone else notice that she said, “My kids is public school participants”? That kicked my in the head as bad as the “nucular” thing. (Transcripts I found this morning had it as “My kids as public school participants” — which leaves her sentence without a verb at all, so it isn’t any better.)
Biden wasn’t everything I hoped for, but Palin was everything I’d feared.

Kathryn
Guest

The first time she winked my husband and I looked at each other with dropped jaws and said “Did she just WINK at us?”
It was like she was participating in a beauty pageant instead of a vice presidential debate.

Jamie
Guest

I couldn’t agree more. I don’t understand why the standard we judge her against has been lowered so far. Why shouldn’t everyone running for the same position be judged by the same criteria? What is it about her that makes it OK to lower the bar? Please do not tell me it’s because she’s a woman, because that makes me really sad.

Shannon
Guest

Amen to absolutely everything you said, Alice. You said it better than I ever could and I agree 100%.

Hi Kooky
Guest

I’m with all of you who would like to hear “nuclear” pronounced properly. I also agree with CM that it was a relief to watch a civil debate. I really believe that Biden showed himself to be a generous, gracious participant. He could have really put the squeeze on Palin (no pun intended), but he played it cool. I do think Palin pulled it together for the debate. Heaven knows she needed to. She showed poise, courage, and good sportsmanship (yikes – sorry – another unintended pun, but I can’t think of a better word). I still felt like I… Read more »

mfk
Guest
mfk

Totally agree. One hundred percent. Since when is “not embarrassing oneself in a nationally televised debate” equivalent to success? Every time she winked at the camera I wanted to vomit. She is a beauty pageant queen co-opted by the Republicans to fool women into voting for them because “awww, she’s so CHARMING! She’s just like ME!!” um. That is what put Bush into office… a nation of voters who are intimidated by a smart candidate and who instead vote for the one that reminds them of themselves. The president SHOULD be smarter and more knowledgeable than most of us. This… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

My friends, I grieve that I lacked the opportunity to send each and every one of you to: http://www.palinbingo.com/, so that you too could have managed your distress during the debate by checking off phrases like “Hockey Mom” and “Maverick” as they came out of her mouth. I won, and I didn’t even cheat. More debates are coming! I think it only fair to tell Anonymous what exactly it is about Sarah Palin we find terrifying. Here’s my personal list: 1) If John McCain should die in office, she would become president. 2) If she became president, she would gain… Read more »

ie
Guest
ie

I’ve always considered myself a conservative liberal, kind of standing straight up rather than leaning left or right (bad for the posture!). I read all of the comments for a reason: I want to know what other people are thinking. I deliberatly did NOT watch the debate, and ‘gosh-darnit’ I sure am glad if all that winkin’ was goin’ on. 🙂 I want what I have always wanted in those that will undertake the huge job of running our country, and I’ll pull it out again (tweaked just a teensy): “God grant that (wo)men of principle shall become our principal… Read more »

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

Why Sarah Palin’s record in Alaska frightens me: 1) She hired and fired on the city and local level based on personal relationships. Unapologetically. Many of her hires were grossly unqualified. Cronyism taken beyond the political norm. 2) As Governor, she’s refused to actively, personally participate in the act of governing. She lives away from the Capitol and rarely visits. Her Congress complains about lack of access. Will she live in AK if elected to Federal office? Her lifestyle should change–will it? 3) She seems bright, but incurious. Much like Bush frightens me because he’s just so CERTAIN. Faith is… Read more »