8:55 Gahhh! The moment is upon us! Awesomely, one of the students at my school is dressed as Palin, complete w/ power suit and pearls. She is being escorted by somebody wearing an elephant suit (as you do). There’s also a ‘bipartisan bake-off’ being hosted, but at $1 per cookie and milk, I’ll just have a couple candy corns when I get back to my room. It’s really cool how into it people are – there will be a professor talkback after, and the room is absolutely PACKED. Woot.
8:58 Because it is my school, most everyone has brought some kind of homework. I see a bunch of laptops, but it’s doubtful as to whether or not there are other livebloggers in the midst – I see lots of word-processing and at least one LoggerPro (presumably being used to do a lab report – for those interested in the matter, for at least one recording, the pH of the solution in question was registered at 7.94).
9:00 Wolf Blitzer, what’s up? Did you know that Sarah Palin wants to shoot you from helicopters? This is first and only VP debate, we are told. 90 minutes of pure awesomeness. A cage match, if you will (I’m just vamping at this point, as Wolf is saying such groundbreaking things as ‘Palin is a VP candidate’ and ‘there will be ground rules’).
9:01 The moderator is Gwen Ifill, a woman of color, which is a nice change from the previous, Old White Dude mode of moderating. Again, the sponsor is some boring debate commission, rather than, say, Apple Computers or Tampax. She explains the format, with time limits and whatnot, but I don’t listen as I’m sure the candidates won’t. Apparently, their audience has promised to not make any untoward outbursts – I wish I could promise the same. Palin hugs Biden’s arm and chirpily asks if she can call him Joe. Oy.
9:03 Predictably, the first question is about The Bailout. Biden goes first, thanking everyone for having him. Oooh, Biden totally goes there about the whole Free Market ™ that is the conservative raison d’etre, and how it’s fucked over the economy like whoa. He brings it back to Obama, which I suppose is important as Biden is more of his secret support than his sequined ballgown. Like Obama, he mentions the ‘fundamental disagreement’ between Republican and Democratic models of economics, as one is rooted in fact and the other is rooted in making rich people happier.
9:05 Palin mentions privilege, but not in the way that would make me happy (it’s more a privilege to be there). She mentions being a mom approximately 0.67 seconds into her answer, and I already wish I were drunk. She says the economy is hurting and we need reform and oversight which the Republican government has not provided, but apparently John McCain has been a proponent of? Whatevs, honey. I guess she’s been coached on an actual instance of this, since she couldn’t think of an example when Katie Couric asked her this in person a week ago.
9:06 How would you shrink the gap of polarization? Biden mentions issues he’s worked on, and ‘reaching across the aisle’ – this I actually believe, especially with his bankruptcy bill that fucks over the people who would actually be bankrupt, a beautifully Republican act. He says McCain’s out-of-touch. Palin namedrops the American workforce, which in case you didn’t know is The Best In This World. The whole room bursts into shocked laughter at something else ridiculous – according to my assistant, she winked at the camera. Oy times 2. Put partisanship and special interests aside. STOP MAKING FACES, PALIN. She mentions maverick and being different and that’s what the people want, like….I can’t even deal with you anymore. You do know who your candidate, and the other candidate and the…I mean, you know that, right?
9:09 Who was at fault with the subprime lending crisis whatchamacallit? Palin says ‘darn right’ and blames the lenders for misleading the American people, who apparently are the hardest and best workers in the world but too stupid to know that they can’t buy a $100,000 house for $300,000. She also mentions hockey moms and Joe Six Pack and the whole room is openly laughing at her in spite of being told to be ‘respectful’. What’s the point, seriously? We also shouldn’t live outside our means, which is a lot easier when your means are met by, say, a living wage.
9:11 Biden says Obama was talking about this two years ago when McCain was still ‘surprised’ and quotes McCain on how he always wants to cut regulations, as is the Republican Way, sticking a tack through everything Palin just said. He also mentions how Republicans want to let the healthcare industry (i.e. insurance companies) ‘regulate itself’ which would be disastrous, obvi, and how the Free Market ™ is not actually your Special Friend. Palin says ‘darn right’ again. What’s a synonym for ‘oy’?
9:13 Palin says Obama wants to raise taxes, but leaves out who the bulk of the Republicans’ tax breaks go to – i.e., Bill Gates and the Sultan of Brunei. I can’t believe she’s saying he wants to increase taxes on low- and moderate-income families. I can’t deal with her. Also, since Palin repeated how ‘Barack’ voted NINETY-FOUR TIMES, Biden counters that McCain has voted against it FOUR HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SEVEN times. Awesome. She also admits outright to not paying attention to the moderator’s questions, surprising, I think, a negative amount of people. Gwen cuts her ass off. I want to marry her.
9:15 Gwen asks about taxes; Biden says it’s not fair and the middle class is suffering, and under Obama’s tax plan no one under $200,000 income would have their taxes raised. And 95% of the people would get a tax break, which seems to be actual fairness. You think, buddy? I’m not mad at you, Biden, baby. Don’t be like that. He also points out that McCain’s tax cuts would go almost exclusively to the really rich who are even more rich after 8 years of tax cuts, and how under Obama’s plan, the rich would pay no more than under Ronald Reagan (the Savior of the Republican party).
9:17 Palin thinks the government is the problem, in a remarkable flash of insight. But she seems to have forgotten that she’s actually in the government. She then starts to defend McCain’s healthcare plan, whose main selling point is that it doesn’t cost the government anything. She then points out that Obama’s plan involves relying on the federal government, which hasn’t been too good lately. It’s interesting how she’s trying to distance herself from the Bush administration when her running mate has been fellating them. Does she even know whose side she’s on? (To be fair, I got that last question from somebody who’s sitting behind me).
9:19 Biden points out that Palin’s ridiculous sidetrack about small businesses doesn’t work because they don’t make $250,000 anyway, and thus wouldn’t see a tax increase. So everything Palin said is idiocy, but I suppose that’s no big surprise. He then talks about McCain’s healthcare plan, which would mean that 20 million people are dropped and calls the plan “The Ultimate Bridge To Nowhere”. The room erupts in applause.
9:21 Biden says they’re going to have cut some plans for foreign aid because of the whole economy in toilet thing, and what we’re not going to hold up on is multimillion dollar tax cuts for oil companies, as McCain would have us do. Biden stumbles on ‘characterized’ and the room goes ‘aww’. Biden hits it out of the park, as usual. Palin brings it to energy, which she’s supposed to be smart on but I swear to God I saw that I saw her talk about it the other day and it was total word salad. She talks about dealing with energy companies in Alaska – Biden is laughing, which makes me think she’s due for a Smackdown.
9:24 Palin says Obama voted for tax cuts for the oil companies, and she as Governor was the sole person responsible for picking up his mess. Gwen calls her on evading the question like it was a dodgeball, and Palin talks some more without actually saying anything.
9:25 Biden says that Obama voted against the tax cuts, which McCain did not, and is still trying to put into his budget plan. Biden says he believes in what Palin did in Alaska but McCain wouldn’t support, so good on him on putting it back on McCain, who is of course the main player here. He says that he hopes Palin is able to convince her running mate to do what she did.
9:26 Sarah says there has been a ‘revelation made aware’, which sounds like a quotation from Left Behind, and apparently we just found out last week that people on Wall Street are corrupt and it’s all thanks to John McCain. Oh, really? It’s a toxic mess on Wall Street – oh God she mentioned ‘Main Street’ [ETA: I didn’t put this in, because I thought I heard it wrong, but reading today confirms that she actually said that there was a toxic mess on Main Street that was corrupting Wall Street. See, that’s the problem when you only have 5 terms to work into your answers. You start mixing them up. I’m surprised she didn’t call her special needs son a ‘maverick’.].
It’s 9:28, and my ass hurts. It’s probably because I’m sitting on a hard wooden surface. Also Biden and Obama disagreed on something but I’m not cool enough to have heard on what, so I don’t know who I’d agree with. Oh well. It’s still about money, which as most people know is not the topic I’m most interested in. When do we get to talk about Sarah’s gay friend, who chose to be gay but is still cool but just can’t get married? I want to talk about that.
9:29 Palin name-drops ‘East-Coast politicans’, basically calling Biden a latte-sipping liberal who hates everybody that doesn’t live in the Eastern Time Zone. She evades her question for, like, the third time (honestly) to get back on energy. I mean, really. We know Alaska has oil. We know you’re from there. Shut the hell up already.
9:30 Gwen actually brings up energy (ha!) and asks Palin if she thinks climate change is real – the room goes ‘ooo’. Palin doesn’t want to argue about the causes, which means she is reassuring Republicans it’s not their fault but can’t say so because those damn liberals would bitch about it. She talks about being energy-independent, which makes sense, and then says that we (the U.S.) care about the environment much more than the rest of the world, like have you heard of Sweden? China’s pretty bad, though, I guess.
9:32 Biden puts it right out there that global warming’s man-made. He also says that if you don’t agree on the cause, you can’t agree on the solution, which gets a lot of snaps from my environmentally-conscious peeps. Apparently Obama supports alternative energy sources and using less oil, like duh. He totally heard me about China and says they’re being dirty, and pronounces ‘nuclear’ correctly. Palin has yet to do the same.
9:34 Palin says ‘Drill baby, drill!’ and talks about drilling some more, especially in Alaska. I am reminded of the sexist T-shirt with Palin on it that says the same thing. She says it’s safe to drill and mocks Biden for caring about the environment, because drilling in the upper continental shelf is pretty much like wrapping it in a blankie and tucking it into bed. She says ‘nucular’ (drink!) and according to my seatmate, called him Senator Obiden.
9:36 Biden calls Palin on everything to do with her shtick on energy having to do with oil, and OMG GWEN BRINGS UP THE GAYS! He is absolutely for same-sex rights, and says that there should be absolutely no difference between the partnerships of straights and gays, and it’s what’s fair, and under the Constitution. I can’t wait for Palin to make herself look like an idiot. He supports people having the same, equal, rights as heterosexual couples.
9:37 She brings up ‘redefining marriage’ and is very wary of granting equal rights as it might lead to same. God forbid that people would, you know, not give a rat’s ass about your arbitrary, bigoted, and outdated views on marriage and instead want to stick them up your ass. She is ‘straight-up’ and doesn’t support gay marriage. To be fair, neither do Biden or Obama, which makes me Not Happy. I actually start shouting at the screen, causing several people to turn around, the Channel 5 cameraman to discreetly point his camera elsewhere, and the person sitting next to me to deliver a reassuring pat and a “It’s gonna be okay”.
9:39 Palin clarifies that she doesn’t support gay marriage, like anyone was unclear on that, and refuses to confirm what she just said – i.e. that she would guarantee same-sex rights – when Gwen asks her if she would. Now to Iraq! Palin says the surge worked, and is an idiot (in breaking news!). We apparently do not need to withdraw from Iraq, as then we might not conceive a child. You know, very few numbers of sperm are in pre-ejaculate (forgive me. I have to do something to keep from going insane). It would be a travesty if we quit now. Biden calls her on not actually talking about a plan, which Gwen asked her to do. He says they have a plan, and everyone is in agreement with it, except John McCain. Also Palin was talking about Obama voting to not fund the troops, and it turns out they both have, just whether or not there was a timeline in the bill. Obama is in favor of, McCain is not. He says it’s important to end this war and turn it over to the Iraqis, and a FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE is that McCain will not withdraw ever.
9:42 Palin pauses, says ‘umm’, and then says that she doesn’t approve of a timeline because it is waving a white flag of surrender. The room groans. I can understand that it’s really sad to have to accept that all of the money and dead soldiers and emotion and time and whatever has been in vain, kind of, but there’s a difference between living in a fantasy and some kind of reality-based community.
9:44 Palin says anyone who votes to cut off funding for the troops is indefensible, and right after Biden reminds us that McCain did THE EXACT SAME THING. And yes he has a son in the military, as does Palin and probably my dog at this point, and that’s part of the reason he wants a timeline. Biden also says McCain hasn’t read the history of the last 700 years and thinks Sunnis and Shi’ites get along, and ‘God love him’, he’s been dead wrong. Gwen moves on to A Nuclear Iran vs. An Unstable Pakistan: Cage Match!
9:46 According to Biden, McCain is still focusing on Iraq as the central front of the War on Terror ™, whereas it’s actually going to come from Afghanistan or Pakistan (or possibly a nuclear Iran). We need to monitor these countries and help them to build schools and do good things, rather than bomb and then ignore them to wander across the world to bomb somebody else.
9:47 According to Palin, it’s not McCain but Petraeus who says that’s the central front. She says ‘nucular’ two more times, but manages ‘Akamadenijad’ twice, which is more than McCain could do last Friday. I start a ‘nucular’ tally, as I have more important things to write about.
9:58 Gwen brings up Secretaries of State and talking about engagement with enemies. Oh God she mentioned The Kissinger, who as we all know is McCain’s Special Friend. Dictators hate America, dontcha know? Palin namedrops ‘women’s rights’ and the entire room boos, as I resolve to get a feminist tattoo first thing in the morning.
9:50 Biden brings it back to the world of Truth and Light, and points out how McCain and Palin are talking out of their ass vis-a-vis diplomacy and not sitting down with other countries who we don’t like and how even Bush caved in on the matter (and we KNOW how stubborn he can be. Condi hasn’t gotten him to come out of his room for weeks). Biden again brings up McCain’s random and ridiculous hatred of Spain, and the room claps.
9:52 Palin supports Israel as our best ally in the Middle East, thus tacitly admitting that even though we ‘liberated’ them, Iraq hates us, and says we won’t let the Holocaust happen again. As they have mentioned the Jews, I am honor-bound to mention my former roommate. Biden puts it on the line and says, into the camera, that no one is a better friend of Israel than Joe Biden, which I wouldn’t think would be a major selling point but whatevs. But the peace attempts in Israel have been an utter failure, as is evidenced by…well, duh. The policy of the administration has been an ‘abject failure’, much like every single other undertaking from them.
9:54 Palin doesn’t agree that it’s been an abject failure, but is just tickled to know that “We both absolutely LOVE Israel!” Oy gevalt. She says McCain’s a Maverick again and bipartisan, but Obama is weird for looking back at the past. Biden says that the past is prologue, and that in no way have we heard how McCain’s policies are different from what sounds like “George Bushes” (actually “George Bush’s”). Because she loves me, Gwen brings up nuclear energy and weaponry, and gives the floor to Palin. I dissolve in a pile of happiness and scientific accuracy. Palin interrupts herself to ask if she can talk about Afghanistan, frantically trying to get in talking points about how McCain’s different from Bush. Palin says that we did in Afghanistan was wonderful and amazing and saying we did bad things is just mean. We are FIGHTING TERRORISM, BARACK! Didn’t you get the memo?
9:58 Biden says Petraeus said that the troop surge strategy WILL. NOT. WORK. in Afghanistan, and points out that in the last 3 weeks in Iraq we’ve spent more than in the last 7 years in Afghanistan. It’s true – nobody cares about Afghanistan anymore. We are more of a bomb ’em and leave ’em country. Biden gets a little awkward, interrupting himself and rephrasing to get in under the wire time-wise. Palin says McLellan, who IS NOT PETRAEUS [or the actual general, David MacKiernan – my bad], didn’t say the surge couldn’t work. Biden calls Palin on McCain having said that Afghanistan ‘had succeeded’ years ago, when that is clearly not the case.
10:01 Biden says America has a stomach for success, and he supported intervention in Bosnia and so on. I glance over at the professors’ couch and see them all giggling and nudging each other, which gives me a happy. He also supports intervention in Darfur, which – it’s nice to hear about that again after a couple of years. They certainly didn’t stop dying because we were too busy with Katy Perry and 18 million cracks.
10:03 Palin says she’s just not used to “how you guys” vote because they didn’t oppose the war at first and now do, because changing positions based on facts is silly. She also turns her Folksy Accent on full-blast, which I think she does when she’s trying to ‘connect’ with Minnesota (why Minnesota? That’s what the accent sounds like. Apparently proximity to Canada is the sole determiner of one’s accent). She also says that Darfur is a problem and we should go in.
10:05 Biden says he didn’t actually support Cheney and McCain, and says he called everything that would actually happen, as opposed to McCain, who was drinking the Bush Kool-Aid. Thus McCain has been absolutely wrong about the war from the outset. Palin makes Eye Contact and talks about McCain Knowing How To Win A War and What It Takes and omg his POW experience does not make him a general or strategery master. Obviously.
10:07 Gwen brings up the VP being ‘a heartbeat away’ from the presidency. How would your administration be different from your running mate’s? Biden says he would carry out Obama’s policies, which include what you would expect: cleaner energy, get out of Iraq, empower the middle class, help with education costs, reject the Bush Doctrine (does she know what that is yet?), and so on. It’s apparently the biggest election we’ll vote in since 1932, and he says he agrees with every major initiative Obama has.
10:09 Palin says they’re a team of mavericks that can’t agree on everything, of course, and sometimes they agree to disagree. If he were gone, she would ‘continue his good work’ – oh god she actually says the words ‘Wasilla Main Street’. The Accent comes back and I’m pretty sure she just winked at the camera again. Is she drunk?
10:10 Joe Biden is apparently a lesbian, as he spends a lot of time at Home Depot. He counters ‘Wasilla Main Street’ with ‘Wilmington, Delaware’, proving that he can reminisce and get just as folksy as you, Palin (though he has yet to wink). In her response, Palin goes all Accent-y and says ‘doggoneit’ and praises Biden’s wife for being a teacher and OMG SAYS ‘HER REWARD IS IN HEAVEN, RIGHT?’. The room erupts in ridiculousness and she does a shout-out to all the 3rd graders at some elementary school and omg WINKS AGAIN. Apparently, spiritually coming onto Biden’s wife was a segue into education, which she cares about. Gwen makes me cock my head by saying that ‘everyone gets extra-credit tonight’, like I need to hear more about grades. This is midterm week at my school, people.
10:13 Palin has found out what the VP does and says that either Biden or Gwen made a ‘lame’ attempt at a joke, managing to look snotty, ableist, and idiotic in one fell swoop. She also says ‘ya’ and shamelessly namedrops her disabled child. Biden says the reason NCLB was Left Behind is because the money was Left Behind (don’t blame the GOP, Joe! They thought it was about the book!) Biden says as VP he would give his best advice and be honest and tell him if he disagreed, and looks forward to working with Obama and playing a constructive role.
10:16 Gwen has asked Palin a question she doesn’t know the answer to, and she pontificates on The Founding Fathers and Constitutional Flexibility and then brings up business-owners again, randomly. Biden says that Cheney has been the most dangerous VP in the history of the country, and says he was an idiot for saying that his role was also legislative as well as executive, and clearly hasn’t read the Constitution. Since Palin just fell all over herself agreeing with Cheney, this is not particularly good for her. He has no authority over the legislative branch, and this is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney that is very dangerous. Woot.
10:18 Palin’s experience as an executive will be valuable, and apparently Alaska counts as a ‘huge state’ now. Oh God she said ‘Heartland’. She name-drops Trig again, and I want to slap her. Shame on her for using him. She also says ‘kitchen table’ to prove that she and Todd are Just Like You! She also attributes a John Winthrop quote to Ronald Reagan, which makes my highly-educated co-students erupt in disbelief.
10:20 Biden humbly says he has lots of Achilles heels’ – he’s been around for 35 years and is kind of set in his ways. He also says that McCain voted against the Violence Against Women Act, which doesn’t look good. He then sees Palin’s special-needs child and raises her a dead daughter and spouse. Biden tears up and says he understands what it’s like to have a child in trouble and what to worry. We clap for him. Palin says ‘maverick’ again. I die inside. Then she says it again and I suck in my breath, hoping to get in some hallucinogenic residue from any stoners who may have dropped by. She stumbles and says ‘McCain is the man we need to leave’ – biggest Freudian slip EVER.
10:23 Biden calls her on her ridiculous repetition of the word ‘maverick’ and says he hasn’t been a ‘maverick’ in voting against Bush or voting for policies that help people. He hasn’t supported anything that helps people , and hasn’t been a maverick on anything, really. He is a fraud and a sad little man.
10:24 Gwen asks them for a changed view on a policy (i.e. a view that they had to change once they knew more). He says he used to think that the only important thing for a nominee for a judicial position was to not be a criminal and to be well-educated, and that was an intellectual change that occurred as he got closer to the issues. Palin mentions budgets she didn’t veto, and I wonder if she’ll bring up the rape kits – nope, she doesn’t, but also apparently has never changed an opinion. Interesting. And she says this as if it is a good thing.
10:26 How will you both change the tone and promote bipartisanship and work across the aisle? Biden says he can do so (and has), to change the minds of both Pubs and Dems. He says he’s never questioned the motive of another person in the Senate, only their judgment. And that’s what he and Obama will continue to do.
10:28 Palin says she has a diverse family and walks and the walk AND talks the talk, apparently. Then she starts just talking crazy and I die yet again. My seatmate points out that her answer is supposed to be about bipartisanship, but is actually just attacking Obama and the Dems. Palin says she’s happy to talk to us, not through ‘the filter of the mainstream media’, i.e. Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson, as she hasn’t given any other interviews. She also mentions American pride and fighting for freedoms and quotes Ronald Reagan and oh no I’m seeing stars as the blood rushes away from my brain in an attempt for me to keep my sanity.
10:31 Biden says we’ve been dug into a very deep hole in the last 8 years and this is the most mportant election EVER and there is the need for fundamental change, and Obama and he won’t measure that change and progress on specific regulatory tgings, but on the people and [folksy examples about people who can pay for their cars and college and everything]. He brings it back to growing up in the happy neighborhood days, where if you were patriotic and wonderful you could be happy and we want them back, dammit! He says we’re all ready for that change, and Obama is ready to be the next President. Biden mentions God too, which makes me unhappy, but whatevs. Apparently there’s two more debates coming with the presidential candidates. I think it goes without saying that I’ll be covering those as well. Now it’s time for a professor talk-back, which I may or may not end up staying for. Let’s see.
10:35 Boy, does my ass hurt. Maybe this is what thin people feel like all the time? Anyways, let’s look at the tallies my lovely assistant kept. We have: 1 question evasion by Biden, and ~13 by Palin. Three winks by Palin, and ~13 Pseudo-Ingratiating Quips, with 4 Quips and (surprise!) no winks for Biden. 13 (how odd that this number keeps popping up with her) mentions of ‘nucular’, 3 hockey/soccer mom comments, and 2 oblique mentions of her son having Down Syndrome. And…that’s it for now! I’m sure I’ll edit this as time goes by, getting rid of the no-doubt abundance of typos, but I think we’re pretty much finished. TRN, over and out!