Alex Massie

Biden-Palin: Live! For Real! At Last!

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Coffee? Check. Cigarettes? Check. Whisky? Check. Optimism? Not so much. But we're live and uninterrupted here as we await the Brouhaha in Missourah, aka the biggest let down in Presidential sports. As always, have a pop in the comments or email me. Anyway, let's get ready to rumble...

3.45: Oh, the CNN focus group is coming from The Ohio State University campus. Of course, now that it transpires that they think Biden won the debate I can assume they're not actually students at tOSU...

3.42: Oh, you should read Will Wilkinson's live-blog too. Back later.

3.33: Ifill won't let us away without reminding us that "there are two more debates left". Heaven help us all. Whisky time. Verdict to follow in a subsequent post. Thanks for hangin' kids. It's been a blast. I think. Right?

3.30: "Filter of the mainstream media"! Yay! She saved it to the last minute. but, yeah, that's been the problem. and is America actually facing enslacement? From whom? Is she claiming that McCain is a libertarian? God knows. She may have done my brain considerable damage tonight.

3.29: Walking the walk isn't enough? Or is it talking the talk that's not enough? And can you walk and talk simultaneously? Who knows? "Clear choices on November 4th". She don't know the half of it...

3.28: "How do you change the tone?" But "changing the tone" might make voters like Washington! Voters don't want to like Washington. They don't really want the tone changed. They like hating Washington!

3.22: "Look at McCain's supporters... Lieberman and Giuliani and Romney.." Three good reasons to vote for Obama.

3.21: I wish Biden didn't feel the need to talk about his first wife. But he's doing so gracefully at least. And actually, to be fair, quite movingly.

3.18: Ifill: "Let's talk conventional wisdom for a moment" No! That's David Gergen's job!

3.16: Yeah, she doesn't understand the Cheney/Addington definition of the Vice-Presidency.

3.15: No-one should claim to have "a history of getting things done in the US Senate." At least, you shouldn't suppose the punters will consider that a good thing...

3.13: I too want extra credit for watching this.

3.13: "I come from a house full of school-teachers." Well, yeah, there's a lot of home-schooling going on, ain't there?

3.11: Biden - I do so know ordinary folks too! She comes back with, I kid ye not, "Say it ain't so Joe" Also, good to see "doggone" get an airing...

3.10: AAAARGHH! "Team of Mavericks" is back! Drink! "Reality from Wasilla Main Street" is better, however. Of course, I've never been to Wasilla, so it's easy for me to say that...

3.09: Is it merely my imagination here, but is biden having to answer most of the questions first? That let's Palin off the hook somewhat. Gives her thinking time.

3.08: What a terrible question! "How would your administration differ from a McCain/Biden administration?" Biden is giving a very solid answer however. 

3.07: "John McCain knows how to win a war"? He did lose the only one he fought in...

3.06: Biden, one should note, has put in a very disciplined performance tonight.

3.03: Favourite Twitter line: "Palin: I believe in Af-CAN-istan. Biden believes in Af-CAN'T-istan"

3.00: Biden, right now, seems flummoxed by her. Largely because you can't  - in 30 seconds - know where to start when taking apart her, shall we say, idiosyncratic responses.

2.57: Ah, she's found the Afghan card...

2.56: "Change is coming" she's right there, you know.

2.52: "I'm so encouraged to know that we both love Israel" And chocolate chip cookies and blueberry muffins and puppies.

2.50: Hugo Chavez must be feeling left out. Why wasn't he named as one of the bad guys? Has he been demoted to the minor leagues?

2.47: At least she can pronounce Ahmadinejad. But that's all. Whoah: the Castro Brothers? Where did they come from? Oh, I see, it's written on her wee card...

2.45: I wish Katie Couric were moderating this "debate".

2.43: Biden "Fundamental difference, we will end this war". Palin: "Your plan is a white flag of surrender" and the CNN folks hate this answer. Not unreasonably you might say. She didn't have anything to say that was sensible, so she just lashed out.

2.41: Her Iraq answer doesn't seem to be impressing the CNN folks with their little dials. I think she also just said Shia when she meant Sunni. But let's not quibble. Biden, by contrast, suddenly sounds rather better, smarter more succinct now we're onto foreign policy. But explaining Senate minutiae is not a winning strategy.

2.38: "I am tolerant"! Ifill says "let's try and avoid nuance". Sure, why would you want something as French as that?

2.35: People are "so hungry" for... what... hope? Jobs? The future? No, domestic oil drilling. Still, did Biden just endorse drilling? I think he did, you know.

2.32: An "all of the above" approach is essentially the lovely Mrs Palin's answer to, well, everything. Politics is, after all, a multiple choice quiz.

2.30: Nasty foreigners who meanly insist on selling oil to Americans! Energy independence is a myth, far less the "key" to "this nation's future". But no-one is permitted to say this.

2.30: Youtoo can play Sarah Palin bingo!

2.27: She is smothering Biden with chirpy nonsense. It's like a candyfloss* rope-a-dope strategy. (*Cotton candy in Yankee-speak).

2.25: "I've been at this for, what, five weeks, so I haven't made any promises to the American people." Which is probably a relief.

2.24: Palin is reading off cue-cards that, one assumes, have complete answers written out. Not, of course, the answers to the questions she is being asked but, indubitably, answers nonetheless. Here it's energy policy: will she read the same answer if there's actually, like, a question on energy policy?

2.22: "What promises aren't you going to be able to keep?" Biden says no increases in foreign aid. A relief, doubtless, to the millions of folks who think foreign aid amounts to half the federal budget... Also: taking advantage of tax laws is "unpatriotic"?

2.21: A health care Bridge to Nowhere? Well, why not?

2.18: "Governor, are you interested in defending Senator McCain's health care plan?" Alas, she is. Time for a whisky time-out.

2.13: Yay, Megan McArdle is also live-blogging: "Sarah Palin winks at the camera.  I didn't believe it the first time I saw it; thank god for TiVo.  I think all three million viewers are supposed to come up to her hotel room with a bottle of champagne after the debate."

2.12: Has Mrs Palin taken her shoes off?

2.10: We need change and reform so you've been in Washington too long but the guy at the top of the ticket hasn't been there long enough? OK, whatever you say...

2.09: I would happily see the phrase "Team of Mavericks" retired.

2.07: Ezra Klein is also live-blogging. Like any sensible fellow he likes the sound of Joe Biden's voice. So, for that matter, does Mr Biden.

2.06: "Go to a kids soccer game on a Saturday morning..." That's good, actually. If she had been the PTA candidate all along  she'd not be in as much trouble. Of course, this is a memorised answer. But hey, she's improving! she can remember the lines...

2.05: Only a member of the DC establishment could ask if anything showed "the best of Washington" or "the worst". Heap of folks out there who doubt the existence of the former, you know..

2.03: "Nice to meet you, hey can I call you Joe" says Palin. Sweet. Presumably GOPers won't say this shows how condescending she is...

2.01: Wolf Blitzer reasures us that Gwen Ifill and Washington University "have done this before". Does he thinka Veep debate is a dare-devil leap over the Grand Canyon or something? I'm not worried about Ms Ifill or Washington University...

1.59: James Poulos and the gang at the Confabulum are also monitoring the situation this evening. Check 'em out.

1.57: Steve Benen makes his live-blogging debut tonight "I'm supposed to listen, think, and type? At the same time?" Only one of those is actually necessary...

1.55: Soledad O'Brien says"When they go negative, everybody here hates it". Here? Not so much. Not so much at all. Undecided Voters of America, You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Timid Gormlessness!

1.51: Bias Alert! Let's clear this up once and for all: obviously only white people should get to moderate debates this year.

1.47: Jeff Toobin on CNN sets the bar high: "She needs to prove she can speak in coherent sentences." So, of course (though this is left unsaid) does Biden.

1.35am (all times are UK local): An ex-pat in DC identifies the conundrum we all face: "Part of me hopes she crashes and burns terminally, so badly that she bursts into tears and runs from the stage. Part of me hopes that she crushes Joltin' Joe like a midge and then whips off her skirt and whirls it around her head and yells 'Who's next?'" For what it's worth, traditional British sympathy for the plucky, hopelessly out-gunned underdog has me hoping she just wades in and gives it a lash. If she can enjoy herself then she has a chance to suprise us all...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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