Who Won the Debate?

During the run up to the vice presidential debate, there was much media and blogosphere speculation as how Governor Sarah Palin might handle the debate, whether or not Senator Joe Biden would be able to control himself, and of course, who would win. Voices without Votes covered much of this conjecture throughout the global blogosphere. We now follow up our coverage to answer the question, “Who won the debate?”

CNN and just about every other American news source reported that, although Palin exceeded expectations, Biden won the debate. In an opinion piece for The New York Times, Mark J. Penn stated that, “Thursday night, Senator Joe Biden did something we have not seen enough of in presidential debates in the last decade — he gave knowledgeable, fact-based answers that were based on understanding the issues facing this country.” To the mainstream U.S. media, it was clear that Joe Biden had won the debate.

But what about the rest of the world? A report from Israel's Haaretz indicates agreement with U.S. media. Pakistan's Daily Times applauded Biden's consideration of Pakistani issues. And bloggers?

Mexican blogger Brainiac Conspiracy concurs with the media:

Sarah Palin? Well, she performed about as well—and as poorly—as I expected. The overall impression I took away from her was of a precocious high-schooler mimicking an adult politician in a debating class, with a flirtatious smile and a self-conscious wink thrown in to remind the voters that she's really not like Joe Biden or Barack Obama or the rest of these career Washington pointyheads, but just a regular gal from small-town America who still has a firm grasp on those simple small-town values that have made her a walking success story. And if this election was occurring in, say, 1980, or even 1988, the unspoken message behind the suggestive body language (“I'm just like you. He isn't”) might resonate more broadly beyond the conservative GOP base.

The Lusosphere is in agreement. Portuguese socialist Nuno Gouveia, who has been keeping an special blog for the American elections and following it close says the following:

Pensava-se que Joe Biden esmagaria Palin. Mas isso não aconteceu. Venceu o debate, puxou dos galões de 36 anos na política nacional, mas não foi brilhante. Foi regular. Mas isso chegou-lhe para sair vencedor, e isso era o mais importante. Se olharmos para a história, verificamos que é mesmo isso que se espera de um candidato a Vice-presidente. Biden não irá acrescentar muitos votos a Obama. Mas tenho dúvidas que retire um só voto. E isso já é positivo, porque a força do ticket reside em Obama. O debate entre Veeps manteve o rumo desta corrida. E era isso que os democratas necessitavam, pois estão a ganhar.

I thought that Joe Biden would crush Palin, but this has not happened. He won the debate, pulled out from his 36 years in national politics’ gallons, but he was not brilliant. He was regular. However this was enough for him to leave as a winner, and this was the most important thing. If you look at the history, we see that this is really what is expected of a vice president candidate. Biden will not add many votes to Obama, but I doubt it that he will lose him a single vote. And that is positive, because the ticket strength is with Obama. The debate between the vices kept the course of this race. And that is what the Democrats needed because they are winning.

Brazilian journalist Pedro Doria uses metaphors to explain why Biden won:

Metaforicamente, Joe Biden ganhou o debate quando engasgou falando de sua experiência na mesa da cozinha tentando fechar as contas, com dois filhos, sua mulher e filha mortas. Palin perdeu-o quando foi incapaz de fazer um comentário gentil imediatamente após. Metáforas à parte: Biden falava de classe média o tempo todo. Palin falou um quê. Devia ter sido o tempo todo.

Metaphorically, Joe Biden won the debate when he choked talking about his experience on the kitchen table trying to make ends meet, with two children, his dead wife and daughter. Palin lost it when she was unable to make a gentle comment immediately after. Metaphors aside: Biden spoke about the middle-class all the time. Palin spoke an inch [about middle-class]. It should have been all the time.

Latin American blogger VivirLatino was annoyed with Palin's performance:

So far we've only had two presidential debates, and already tired of them. Sarah Palin's performance yesterday wasn't as bad as many expected/hoped. Pero her attempts to be cute just annoy me in the same way the other mothers at my daughter's school annoy me with their fake ass ways.

While the consensus on Biden's win was certain, some bloggers went even further, discussing aspects of Palin's debating skills. Just as The New York Times and The Huffington Post criticized Palin, so did plenty of bloggers.

Puerto Rican-American Liza of Culture Kitchen was outraged at reports that Palin read off notecards during the debate:

What's outrageous is that I actually questioned my judgment and bias when I mentioned last night that it looked like she was reading off cards. I couldn't fathom her reading off cue cards she'd have hidden in her jacket.


Veritas Nihilum Vincet, from Israel a Canadian living in Taiwan, posted a mock interview mocking Palin's performance:

Well, Stan, what’s your read on the debate?
Thanks, Bill. Sarah Palin did not faceplant into the lecturn, and avoided vomiting on the moderator. You have to call this one a big win for the GOP.
I think you’re right, Stan! Neither did she stab any small children or spontaneously self-combust. The Republicans have to be happy with this performance.
From where I’m sitting, Bill, it was a home run. She seemed to be hopped up on benzedrine, but managed to run the base paths even while yammering nonsensically from poorly memorized talking points. There’s joy in Mudville tonight!
What about Biden, Stan? Any read there?
Biden. Joe Biden…her opponent.
She had an opponent?

In French blog West Wing 2008, Maria Pisaro criticized Palin's inability to express her own views during the debate:

De là à dire que la colistière de John McCain a excellé, il y a un pas que je ne franchirai pas. Sarah Palin a esquivé toutes les questions difficiles, en particulier celles ayant trait à l'économie, qui est le sujet sur lequel le ticket républicain a de sérieuses difficultés à convaincre alors qu'il sagit de la préoccupation majeure Américains.

En répétant à plusieurs reprises les mêmes phrases, souvent hors propos, notamment sur la politique énergétique et l'imposition fiscale, Sarah Palin a montré qu'elle avait bien appris les leçons serinées par ses coaches. Mais elle semble incapable de présenter une position personnelle sur les dossiers les plus importants, à l'exception des forages pétroliers (drill, baby drill). Comme le dit Bill Schneider de CNN, “elle ne manque certainement pas de confiance en elle, elle manque de cohérence”.[..] Ma déception ce soir aura été pour l'animatrice du débat, Gwen Ifill de PBS, dont je respecte par ailleurs le travail. Elle aurait à mon sens dû intervenir pour forcer Sarah Palin à répondre aux questions posées…

I would not go as far as to say that she (Palin) excelled. Sarah Palin avoided all the tough questions, especially those about the economy which is the theme in which most republicans have difficulties convincing most americans.
By repeating the same sentences several times, often off the inquired subject, about energy and taxes, Sarah Palin showed that she was able to integrate the lesson from her coaches. However, she seemed incapable of expressing her own opinion on other important subjects. As Bill Schneider of CNN remarks “she certainly does not lack confidence but she sure lacks coherence” [..] I was dissapointed by Gwen Ifill of PBS, whose work otherwise, I immensely respect. She ought to have intervened and demanded that Palin answers the poposed questions.

Despite the majority consensus of bloggers, there were a few who felt that Palin scored a win in the debate. Mexican resident The Exile took an objective view and said:

Closing my eyes for a period and the debate seemed to be going Biden's way. However, actually watching the debate and things seemed far more neck and neck. Sarah really knows how to almost chat an audience up, and make them feel that she is in the room with them, speaking pretty much directly to them – and in the idiom that they use themselves.

So who won? Well, both teams wanted to shore up their support, which both speakers almost certainly did. As far as the undecideds go, it looks as if Sarah crept ahead, especially in that all-important American heartland that sits between the two coasts.


  • Geo

    Do we really want a VP with little or no experience? Yes!  Do we want a President with little or no experience? Yes! Get out of the politcal arena and allow common sense and everyday people run this country instead of the lawyers and career politicians.    Go Sarah!Take a look back in history and discover who has recieved contributions from Fan and Fred. Why? Allow the market to correct itself, lower taxes to create jobs and get the government off our backs. What is most important in America today is not the economy it is family values! again GO SARAH!

  • Vertias Nihilum Vincet checking in.
    I am not from Israel. I’m a Canadian in Taiwan.
    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    @Veritas Nihilum Vincet,

    Apologies, we’ve fixed it! Thanks for stopping by.


  • And at the Mexican perspective: The ONLY people who think Palin came even close to surviving are hard core base-head GOP arse nibblers.
    ALL polls show Palin losing, Biden winnning among independent voters.
    Any reasonable, thinking person who watched the event agree – Palin is a vapid bit of bait with no business on the stage.

  • @ Geo:
    The problem with common sense is that it isn’t common and rarely resembles good sense.
    The problem with Sarah Palin is that she’s vapid, ignorant, uneducated and PROUD of it. You want a woman who BELIEVES humans and dinosaurs co-existed?
    YOU’RE part of the problem.
    Fannie and Freddie? Pfft. The problem goes alot deeper than that shallow bit of ignorance.

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