A quick scan post-debate makes it a win for Sarah Palin in terms of restoring her convention personna as the perky outsider from the frontier. A mind-changer for undecided voters? Not likely.
Also: personality alone doesn’t address ability and knowledge, a point that Dana Milbank’s commentary underscores. He notes the format allowed her to speak generally, to ignore questions and otherwise work from a script well-suited to her talents. Tom Shales, too, while generally complimentary, noted her dodge-the-question strategy.
Peggy Noonan, who called the evening a “triumph” for Palin, nonetheless grounded that victory in the utterly superficial:
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.
Politico’s lead writers said she performed well enough, but still fell short.
.. it is hard to count any objective measures by which Biden did not clearly win the encounter. She looked like she was trying to get people to take her seriously. He looked like he was running for vice president. His answers were more responsive to the questions, far more detailed and less rhetorical.
Reporting notes that Palin was wrong and Biden right in remarks about Afghanistan. (Biden was too polite to note she got the name of the U.S. commander in Afghanistan wrong.) Video above notes her support of equal legal rights for gay couples, which will surprise some of the base, I’d guess.
In short, Palin ‘won by not losing.’ But does she change the trajectory of the race? No. As one writer put it: the vice presidential sideshow is over. It’s back to McCain v. Obama and, for the moment at least, Obama leads.
And, IN A NUTSHELL, James Fallows.