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Compared to Quayle, Palin Got Off Easy

Amid all the reactions to last night’s vice presidential debate, one thing seems clear: moderator Gwen Ifill went pretty easy on Sarah Palin.

Ifill may have had her legs pulled out from under her when the pundits of the right raised concerns over her impartiality following revelations that she was writing a book titled “Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.” Or perhaps it was simply the strict format of the debate that prevented her from asking tough follow-ups.

Whatever the case, it’s worth comparing her kid-gloves treatment of Palin to the very pointed questions asked of her oft-referenced 1988 analog, Dan Quayle, in his vice presidential debate against Lloyd Bentsen.

Here’s how Judy Woodruff addressed Quayle’s questionable qualifications for the office:

And it didn’t stop there.

Brit Hume, then of ABC News, pressed him again on “some of the apprehensions people may feel about your being a heartbeat away from the presidency.”

Quayle’s incredibly awkward and halting response — upon becoming president, “first I’d say a prayer for myself” — led Tom Brokaw to iterate the question:

“Surely you must have some plan in mind about what you would do if it fell to you to become president of the United States, as it has to so many vice presidents just in the past 25 years or so.”

And just for kicks, refresh your memory on the most famous moment of that debate:

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