The Myth of Palin’s Debate Victory
Two new and apologetic pieces about Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) make a similar claim. The Weekly Standard’s Matt Continetti, who is writing a book about Palin:
In the vice presidential debate, Palin went toe-to-toe with Biden, the paradigmatic Beltway insider, and gave as good as–if not better than–she got.
Carl Cannon of Politics Daily:
Palin cleaned Joe Biden’s clock in their only debate, and nobody in the media could even see it, let alone report it. That was the night that the dual blinders of ideology and elitism prevented us being honest brokers.
This just isn’t true.
Polling on the debate revealed that most voters thought Biden beat Palin. According to the RealClearPolitics polling average on the general election, Obama led McCain 49.0 percent to 43.3 percent on October 2, 2008, the day of the debate. After the debate, Obama’s lead stayed stable or kept on growing. Compare that to the effect that the Dick Cheney-John Edwards debate of Oct. 5, 2004 had on their running mates. Cheney clearly stopped a small downturn in Bush’s numbers after the first lousy debate with John Kerry.
The myth that “Palin won” the 2008 vice presidential debate is predicated on expectations, which were created by journalists, and pure narrative demands, which were also created by journalists. Cannon’s article argues that Biden made some factual slips in the debate and that the media, overcome with Palin obsession, gave him a pass. And Cannon stretches the truth to get there. He sniffs that Biden answered a question about vice presidential power while “dressing down Dick Cheney, who was not present.” But Biden was answering this question that moderator Gwen Ifill posed to Palin.
Governor, you mentioned a moment ago the constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past. Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?
The Journalist Defends Palin Against Journalism industry is sad enough without sloppy attacks like this.