Palin bewitching as vice president, terrifying as president.

Updated 10/4/08 – Despite the pronouncement that she wants to expand the role of the vice president, don’t look for that to happen if McCain wins. Instead she’ll become the Lucy to Ricky Ricardo in the presidential twosome. She’ll provide lots of yuks and a bottomless well of inanity for Tina Fey to spoof.

I’ll say it straight out, Joe Biden won the debate hands down by any measure except the bewitching performance perko-meter. If you counted winks, as someone quoted in a National Review article did, she won six to zero.

Those media pundits who I watched last night and watched this morning seemed to be trying to be balanced. They lamely gave the benefit of the doubt to Sarah Palin.

“She didn’t stumble and she did well” says Democrat Harold Ford on Morning Joe.

Mika Brzezinski says it would have been a disaster if she had stumbled, and she didn’t. By my book, not answering a direct question is worse than a stumble, it’s falling flat.

Andrea Mitchel says that “she gave a strong performance” explaining what this means as her not being as substantive as some people might like, programmed, rehearsed, folksy and smart and having no hits, no runs, no errors. Talk about redefining the meaning of what constitutes a strong performance. Talk about lowering the bar!

Republican pundits and spinners are praising her methinks too enthusiastically. Patrick Buchanan, immediately after the debate, was so effusive in his praise I thought he’d been watching the debate after a dinner of psilocybin mushrooms when he bellowed “Sarah Palin was sensational tonight, she regained that magic she had at the convention!” Either he was earning his pay as counter-point to Rachel Maddow or he needs Thorazine to bring him down from his magic ‘shroom trip. Maddow’s comeback to Buchanan was classic: “Boring but right versus exciting and wrong — that’s America’s choice?”

This morning Buchanan calls Palin “my girl”. It’s LSD or a crush on the Wasilla winker.

Even Tom Brokaw seemed a bit smitten if not delusional. He said that at least she didn’t come across as Tina Fey. Is he kidding? The Saturday Night Live writers won’t have to embellish their skit with a single word as Palin gave them ample material.

On the issues, Palin was both over-scripted and insubstantial.

While I found her annoying and likened her presentation to various television characters from Lucy to Chrissy on Three’s Company, I know some voters find her folksy-by-a-factor-of-three style engaging.

I just can’t get beyond disbelieving that anyone in their right mind would wants a vice president whose sentence structures make Bush look like an English teacher representing the United States on the world stage.

The only world leader I can see her sitting down with is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because in his own way he’s just as cartoonish. She’d bewitch him with her Elizabeth Montgomery – Samantha Stephens magical nose twitch.

Gwen Ifill and Joe Biden let her get away with ignoring questions presenting her cutsy face and giving a repetitious memorized speech to eat up her time.

After the first McCain – Obama debate I said that our Westies slept through it.

Not this debate.

My wife kept startling them awake with her shouts of incredulity.

Vice president is one thing, but a doggone winking you betcha president with average intelligence? That is utterly terrifying to contemplate.

On her appeal to Joe Six-Pack

As a psychotherapist, I don’t think it is wise or prudent to glorify Joe Six-Pack image of someone who down the entire six-pack in a few hours. That makes him an alcoholic. Non-alcoholics would be falling down drunk if not unconscious after downing six beers.

Aside from viewing her complementary Joe Six-Pack references from the point of view of a therapist, I agree with Bob Cesca who wrote that she’s “a bonafide hooplehead — so dangerously out of her depth and so delusional — perhaps blinded by ambition — that she is in total denial about the real-world ramifications of her ineptitude. Instead, she’s excusing her embarrassing television interviews and farcical candidacy as an historical breakthrough for “normal Joe Six-pack Americans.”

Perky Palin vs. America’s Sweetheart

If you didn’t see the video of Palin attacking Katie Couric, the former high school cheerleader who was often called America’s sweetheart when she presided over The Today Show, take a look-see here.

Is it really wise for Palin to select, of all newscasters to blame for the public’s negative view of her, Katie Couric?

Is it really wise to get into a “mirror mirror on the wall” face off with Katie?

Cropped from the image “Dr. G and Katie Couric” originally posted at Flickr and shared under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0


Palin criticized Couric’s selection of questions yesterday in explaining why she looked uncomfortable. “The Sarah Palin in those interviews was a little bit annoyed,” she told Fox News. “It’s like, man, no matter what you say, you are going to get clobbered. If you choose to answer a question, you are going to get clobbered on the answer. If you choose to try to pivot and go to another subject that you believe that Americans want to hear about, you get clobbered for that, too.” Howard Kurtz, “A debate with two scorecards”

The Next Day OpEds

I haven’t finished reading the major OpEds, but so far I think E. J. Dionne, Jr. in “Hockey Mom on Thin Ice” has an accurate assessment. Winning being defined as “not imploding” is the journalistic version of certifiable insanity.

Here’s another good one from Forbes’ Suzanne Garment . Referring to the cultural divide in our country, which often has nothing to do with intelligence and explains why my inlaws who are very bight former farmers without college educations loved her debate performance. Here’s part of what she writes:

If you were disposed not to like Palin, you would say that Sen. Joe Biden spoke with considerably more sophistication about policy. You would argue that her answers, though improved from past performances, still sounded like talking points. You would say she was manipulative with her down-home stories, her shout-out, her ever-present hockey mom references and her cute little black suit with the big American flag–with rhinestones, yet.

If you were disposed to like Palin, you would note that Biden, while informed, sounded like–well, a politician. You would argue that his answers, though spoken in a language familiar to the East and West coasts, were just as formulaic as hers. You would say that her ability to connect with her audience came not merely from manipulation but from the fact that her words and rhythms of speech really did mirror those of her audience.

The former of Vermont Governor Madeline Kunin of doesn’t add much to the dialogue about Palin but I liked her title “Sarah Palin’s Debate Performance: Fake It ‘Til You Make It”.

Arianna Huffington hits her with both barrels and agrees with me and others that Palin didn’t know what the reference to Achilles’ Hell (oops, Freudian slip) Heel meant.

Please read and adhere to the posting rules of Capitol Hill Blue and the additional rules and guidelines for commenting on this column here.


  1. Walter F. Wouk

    Please stop referring to Sarah Palin as a “conservative.” There’s nothing conservative about her. She’s a Bible thumping,
    right-wing reactionary who’s itchin’ to burn a few books.

  2. gazelle1929

    I found myslef screaming at my poor television set last night over what Sorry Palin flippantly said about the proposal to give every family a $5K tax credit for health insurance premiums. I am not going to quote her because it’s a lot of gut-wrenching to watch her again, but she said words to the effect of: Well, at least there’s not direct cost to the Government.

    Let me see. 100 million families. $5,000 tax CREDIT! Oh my. That comes out to $500 billion. With a B. Is that a B for Bozo? A half a trillion dollars per year. What the hell are we going to run the country on? Her looks?

    And this woman wants to be a heartbeat away from sitting behind that big desk in the Oval Office! Hell, she’d probably carve her initials on the desktop.

  3. Pablo

    It’s really simple:
    The decrease in revenue will be paid for by making bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy permanent.

    2 + 2 really does equal 3 don’t you know!?

  4. KayT

    Hal, You gave me the best laugh of my day. I never thought that I would see the words psilocybin mushrooms and Pat Buchanan in the same sentence. That was hilarious.

    My real concern with the McCain/Palin ticket is that she makes other women look foolish. If you just watch her and don’t listen to her words, she looks like she is running for her middle school vice-presidency. All of the cutesy winks and nods were too much. When you add in her folksy language, she came across as rather immature. I think that this nomination has put the women’s movement back. I think because of her it will be a long time before a woman is on a major ticket in this country.

  5. Hal Brown

    McCain’s “Viva La Barracuda Ha Ha”

    and that’s a quote…

    just saw him absolutely beside himself with joy and laughing over what a barracuda she was, how he almost felt sorry for his friend Joe Biden. He thinks it’s a complement.

    Barracudas occur both singly and in schools around reefs, but also appear in open seas. They are voracious predators and hunt using a classic example of lie-in-wait or ambush. They rely on surprise and short bursts of speed (up to 27mph (43 km/h)[3]) to overrun their prey, sacrificing maneuverability.

    The larger barracudas are more or less solitary in their habits. Barracudas do not stick around to care for their young. Young and half-grown fish frequently congregate in schools. Their food is composed of fish of all types. Large barracudas, when gorged, may attempt to herd a shoal of prey fish in shallow water, where they guard over them until they are ready for another meal. Large barracudas have been known to eat young barracudas. Wikipedia

    This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken or made during the course of an employee’s official duties.

  6. Hal Brown

    Thanks KayT, it’s hard to find humor in thinking about the prospect of her as vice president. Tina Fey is pure therapy.

    I get the impression you don’t think the Wasilla winker isn’t the best female candidate McCain could have found. There are lots of Republican politicans far better qualified, even my own state’s former governor, who I have been quite critical of, Jane Swift.

  7. Hal Brown

    Notice to everybody

    Please don’t make me do this again. I just went over the posts put on during the four hours we went for a lovely walk along the ocean. In that period I found several posts that I violated my strict rules – from posters on each side of issues.

    In some cases I deleted entire posts and in others just sections of posts.

    In the future I doubt I’ll have the patience to edit out just portions of your posts. So don’t give me a reason to. Please read the rules and guidelines and follow them.

    Is is my intention to make the comments section of my columns among the most intelligent and civil on the web.

    I am impressed with your level of intelligence and most of you are good writers, but some of you persist in disappointing me as far as online etiquette goes. If you want to engage in insulting other posters there are many moderated or barely moderated forums where you can do so.

    If anyone feels they have been baited or another post violates the rules, since we don’t have a feature to flag or report a post, just put a reply asking me to review it and I will.

    If you want to be a part of this community, mind your manners.

    Do not respond to this post here. If you have comments put them on the Miss Martin’s Rules column. I review it once a day and will respond there.

  8. Hal Brown

    End of debate, seemed final blatant example of her ignoring a question completely but also quite possible her not know the meaning of a phrase. Arianna wrote:

    Other than that, Palin’s grasp fluctuated between wafer thin and skin deep. The moment that most drove me to want to send her a book on Greek gods and heroes was her head-scratching response to the question about her Achilles heel. She apparently didn’t know what that meant since she spent her allotted time listing all of her attributes as opposed to her most glaring weakness.

    I didn’t expect her to be able to answer an SAT type question and know that this was a character from Homer let alone in the Illiad.

    Even though Ifill elaborated and the specific question was basically about describing a personal weakness, i.e., your Achilles heel, either Palin doesn’t think she has one or she was befuddled hearing a phrase she didn’t know the meaning of.

    As others have said, she was like a student asked a question in class and not knowing the answer just babbles on about something she does know about.

  9. Hal Brown

    Today’s Palin OpEds

    All three New York Times OpEds plus their main editorial relate to Palin:

    Editorial: Cheney as Model


    Palin’s Alternate Universe

    In such a serious moment in American history, it’s hard to believe that someone with Sarah Palin’s limited skills could possibly be playing a leadership role.

    Talking in Points

    This entire election season has been a long-running saga about the rise of women in American politics. On Thursday, it all went sour.


    The Joe Biden Show

    While watching the vice-presidential debate with the New York Young Republican Club, I realized it was not The Sarah Palin Show, but The Joe Biden Show. And, it was good.

    It is worth reading Kathleen Parker’s “Bridge to Somewhere”. Parker is the Republican who made news the other day suggesting Palin to step down from the party ticket after the Couric interview. She now thinks Palin did what she needed to do to in the debate to rehabilitate herself. But consider her reasons.

    Perky Palin vs. America’s Sweetheart

    If you didn’t see the video of Palin attacking Katie Couric, the former high school cheerleader who was often called America’s sweetheart when she presided over The Today Show, take a look-see here.

    Is it really wise for Palin to select, of all newscasters to blame for the public’s negative view of her, Katie Couric?

    Is it really wise to get into a “mirror mirror on the wall” face off with Katie?

    Cropped from the image “Dr. G and Katie Couric” originally posted at Flickr and shared under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0

  10. Hal Brown

    Set your video recorders –

    Assuming Saturday Night Live will be doing a debate sketch, and how could they not, Queen Latifah will be playing Gwen Iffil.

    Considering that the best parts will be aired on just about every political opinion show and probably most news shows, does anybody doubt the power of this show to influence public opinion this election season?

  11. ekaton

    Oh, I see, Achilles HEEL, not Achilles HELL, big difference. Your article referenced the latter, not the former, and since I didn’t watch all of the debate I thought possibly Ms. Palin had made some befuddled reference to the latter, while really it was just a misquote.

    — Kent Shaw

  12. Hal Brown

    Influencing opinion, let’s not forget David Letterman. He was dissed by McCain and now he’s taking an uncharacteristic tack going after Palin. Watch him with Brian Williams here. It’s 10 minutes but well worth it.

    Here’s a zinger from the monologue not on the video, reminding us of McCain’s age: “John McCain loved Palin’s debate performance. Matter of fact, he applauded so much, all the lights in his home kept on going on and off.” Remember The Clapper?

    Unlike Bill Mahrer ( who you can watch here talking about Palin’s debate performance ) Letterman has a broader audience than just liberals. Plus he’s on network not cable.

    Many of the news and opinion shows have clips from the late night comedy shows, so they get a wider viewership. The king of all viral clips is now Saturday Night Live with Tina Fey in her glory. Oddly she is competing with real comedy clips of the genuine Sarah Palin. Regardless, don’t forget to record it tonight because I expect there will be some real gems. One more spot on hilarious performance and Tina Fey is a shoo in for an Emmy.

    I am sure that if Obama and Biden gave them grist for the comedy mill they would use it, but the truth is that these are two serious candidates who reside in the real world, not a world viewed through the lens so absurd it is a comedy writer’s dream.

  13. Hal Brown

    Sunday OpEds

    Best quote:

    Desperate times cry out for exceptional leaders. It’s not a matter of stratospheric SAT scores or Mensa-level IQs. What we need is the one thing in short supply: wisdom. It’s in our DNA to fear the evil genius. But we still have to be trained to recognize the dangers of the clueless mediocrity. Arianna Huffington

    “Pitbull Palin mauls MCCAIN”

    Published: October 4, 2008

    SARAH PALIN’S post-Couric/Fey comeback at last week’s vice presidential debate was a turning point in the campaign. But if she “won,” as her indulgent partisans and press claque would have it, the loser was not Joe Biden. It was her running mate. With a month to go, the 2008 election is now an Obama-Palin race — about “the future,” as Palin kept saying Thursday night — and the only person who doesn’t seem to know it is Mr. Past, poor old John McCain.

    Pitbull Palin mauls MCCAIN

    Maureen Dowd’s OpEd seems a bit disjointed to me, but then maybe that’s what happens when a super-snarky scribe tries to throw darts at a manic moth.

    “The dumbing down of the GOP: Why aren’t more conservatives disgusted that their party nominated a person devoid of qualifications for the vice presidency (again)?” By Joe Conason in Salon:

    Oct. 4, 2008 | Sarah Palin’s debate performance should signal the beginning of the end of her fad. But for the moment it is worth looking at the meaning of her nomination, without the protective varnish of what conservatives usually dismiss as political correctness.

    Why should we pretend not to notice when Gov. Palin’s ideas make no sense? Having said last week that “it doesn’t matter” whether human activity is the cause of climate change, she said in debate that she “doesn’t want to argue” about the causes. It doesn’t occur to her that we have to know the causes in order to address the problem. More

    You can watch the third Saturday Night Live spoof here.

  14. RichardKanePA


    Yes I agree Biden won, especially for those who actually watched the debate and who were capable of changing their minds but she inspired the base, and she Ronald Reagan style stated harsh policy in a very sweet way. The excepts the news media and McCain takes up will be much more important than the debate.

    I fear her legacy will be similar to Raegan’s sweet memories with all the pain she caused known only to some of those who she will make suffer.

    For what I think we should do about it see,

  15. Malibu

    Very good analysis, Mr. Brown. I noticed that she did not pause to contemplate any question before answering and that confused me. She was properly prepared like a “Stepford” politician. She has all the Conservative rhetoric memorized which may not be as good these days as America is fed up with Bush Conservatism. Bush was so corrupt in his actions that he literally stained the GOP to look very bad to the voters.

    I believe we need two sides on all our congressional decisions and the liberal side of the coin is going to be the choice of Americans. The GOP coin is nearly worthless at this time. As they say. the brand has lost its power. For the good of the country, the fiscal responsibility of the old Republican Party must be located. We may need a third party to bring it back.


  16. pollchecker

    Sorry Hal, I think Palin and McCain are more like the characters from Green Acres except that Eva Gabor had a much better accent.

    There’s an old commercial about Dean Witter (I believe) that goes….when they speak, everyone listens.

    Well, when she speaks I just want to reach for my nearest shoe and throw it at the television.

    She’s not a VP candidate…she’s more like a cartoon character.

    And what’s with that condescending attitude?

    The sound bites they play make her sound like a mother scolding a child except that Senator Biden is nothing like a child.

    I am reminded of a scene from Mr Mom where Terri Garr’s character is cutting her bosses meat for him. I can just see that scene playing out between her and McCain on his private plane.

    PS — I finally figured out some of her answers and gestures last night. They were Beauty pageant answers. I guess she associates debating for the 2nd highest office in America with Miss USA.

  17. sherry

    I loved Palin’s comments regarding Obama-Biden team eternally looking back. It’s true.
    Biden certainly had a command of the issues. Would Palin be ready for presidency on day one? Of course not.
    The scary part is that neither would Obama.
    Say what you will about Palin, she has a state with a budget surplus. Personally, I would like to have someone who has balanced a budget.
    Even if she does say “doggone it”

  18. Hal Brown

    On the Alaska balanced budget.

    To her credit she took on the oil companies and imposed a windfall profits tax. In the debate as I recall she avoided answering the question whether she disagreed with McCain on his NOT supporting a national windfall profits tax on big oil.

    Republicans in Congress this June united to defeat a proposed windfall tax on oil companies, deriding it as a bad idea that would discourage investment in U.S. oil exploration.

    Things worked out far differently in the GOP stronghold of Alaska, a state whose economic fate is closely tied to the oil industry.

    Over the opposition of oil companies, Republican Gov. Sarah Palin and Alaska’s Legislature last year approved a major increase in taxes on the oil industry — a step that has generated stunning new wealth for the state as oil prices soared.

    At a time when Americans are feeling the pinch at the gasoline pump and oil companies are racking up record profits, Alaska’s choice foreshadows one of the sharpest debates in the upcoming presidential election.

    Democrat Barack Obama supports a national windfall-profits tax, while Republican John McCain opposes it. Seattle Times

  19. snargle

    Sherry, any politician who couldn’t balance Alaska’s budget is worse than incompetent. Almost 70% of Alaska’s budget comes directly from oil company royalties. And add into that $13,000 per capita in federal handouts (third largest in the nation after Louisiana and Mississippi…remember Katrina?) Now, if Palin was able to balance the budget in Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Michigan, then I might have some respect for her skills.

  20. sherry

    Hal, perhaps Palin could show Johnny Mac how to balance a budget.
    No one wants to do the windfall profits tax. Big oil owns congress and I am not just talking Bush. Look at Jay Rockefeller. Do you think it is an accident EXXON got all those tax breaks?

  21. Pablo

    As Biden so eloquently said,
    “The past is prologue”. The past is extremely relevant when one is presenting themselves as something their actions have repeatedly shown they are not.

  22. gazelle1929

    I kept closing my eyes while Sorry was speaking and I kept seeing the image of Marge Gunderson in the movie Fargo.

  23. Elmo

    I didn’t watch it. I expected that she would stick to talking points regardless of what question was asked and from everything I’ve heard, watching the curse of the Billy Goat work on the Cubs again was a much better use of my time.

  24. ErnestoCHB

    Hal Brown is attempting to “spin” this victory into a defeat. He made no mention of Joe (Overbite) Biden’s lie about “10 years for drilling to get to market”…TOTAL MALARKEY of anti-drill PRO $700 Billion and jobs shipped out of USA crowd. Shameless lying not even rebuked is STILL shameless lying. Repeat the mantra…NO DRILLING…TAKES 10 years…NO DRILLING…rather have tanker spills than environmentally safe drilling and jobs for Americans keeping $700 Billion in oil revenues HERE. Shame on YOU Hal Brown and Shame on your Democrat Collegues who propagate this “DRILLING WILL DO NO GOOD” Lie!
    DRILL HERE! DRILL NOW! FIRE Obstacle compromise politicians NOW! Chambliss and other 4 are STILL anti-drilling…need to be FIRED!

    Ernesto Ramos PhD

  25. pollchecker

    Personal reference removed by moderator … about drilling offshore for oil.

    As someone who grew up in the oil business, it is absolutely NOT malarky when they say it will take at least 10 years to go from obtaining the title to producing a well.

    And quite frankly, any oil & gas man will tell you we cannot drill our way out of this mess.

    Even people like Mr. Pickens understands this show. The only people who profit from offshore drilling are the CEO’s at corporations like Exxon/Mobil whose profits are obscene and who are taking home enough money to run a small country.

  26. Pablo

    Energy inefficiency …. …
    Ad hominen reference removed by moderator, next time the enitre post will be deleted. … the majority of americans drive vehicles that are extremely energy inefficient, huge vehicles they usually don’t need, unless impressing the neighbors with their insensitivity towards conserving resources for future generations is a ‘need’. I would expect an intelligent, educated person could see that our first logical step towards energy independence is to conserve. THIS HAS NOT HAPPENED! But no, proponents of drilling won’t even mention conservation unless they are cornered.

    Shame on anybody that proposes drilling in environmentally sensitive areas when the society has not even attempted conservation! Those areas should be left alone not only for environmental reasons, but also as a stockpile that could be used in a time of ABSOLUTE need. Our SUV culture is far from need, unless gluttony is need. Not in my book!

    If we keep on pillaging and plundering with no regard for future generations, we will go down as the most shameful, gluttonous, selfish generation in history, the ones who saw the shipwreck coming and did nothing to change course. It’s conservation time folks, not pillage and plunder what little is left time.

  27. Hal Brown

    Moderator’s advisory: I added an update to the posting rules for my columns as follows:

    While I always appreciate it when posters use their real names, if they do so with an advanced degree, if their field of expertise isn’t obvious, it should be included along with the degree.

    Posters should never use the name of someone else. Since in almost all cases others share one’s name, when you use your own name you should make certain you identify exactly who you are.

    On the above post, more of a guideline than a rule, try to avoid unnecessary personal reference such as “shame on you”.

  28. Ardie

    Palin taxed big oil in Alaska. She even managed to give every Alaskan $1,200 to help with rising energy costs. And now she decries Obama’s plan to impose a windfall-profits tax of big oil and use the money to give each American $1,000 to help offset the pain at the pump. Priceless!

  29. sherry

    Poll, you do realize that Pickens owns a ton of natural gas wells and this is what he is pushing. I mean, you didn’t really think this guy was soley concerned for energy independence did you?

  30. CheckerboardStrangler

    I’d like to see Exxon go ahead and RUN a small country.
    Then we could declare war on them.

  31. pollchecker

    I know very well who he is and how he got his money. The fact that he is diversifying should tell you something.