First off, go read Dahlia Lithwick’s rather tangled, contradictory, and quite unintentionally revealing advice to Senator Biden about how to debate Governor Palin. Done that? Excell…
Yes, Lithwick really did think that Biden did well against Roberts, which is true, if you define “did well” as “spent all of your alloted time either talking, or complaining that you were running out of time.” Forget it, she was in the moment.
Yes, yes, I noticed too that she didn’t brag about actually winning that Glasgow debate of hers. Can we get on with it? Thanks.
In my judgment, the only way that Joe Biden can hope to claim even a draw against Sarah Palin would be to acknowledge her — not just superficially, but genuinely — as a complete equal with different substantive views. He should treat her, in other words, the way he’d probably treat John McCain. From that posture, he could focus on making the best possible case for his and his running-mate’s views, leaving it to the audience to draw the comparison with his opponents’ views and similarly leaving it them to conclude, if they’re so inclined, that his and Obama’s are better. He should probably finish four-fifths of his answers with time left on the clock — something he did exactly once during the Democratic primary debates, in the only moment of success he managed to eek out from the whole series of them.
…and an even better paragraph right after that one that I have been counseled not to front page, usually with giggles involved. So check it out.
PS: On the one hand, I don’t think that you can get Senator Biden to stop talking with anything less than electroshock therapy. On the other hand, given the sudden suggestion that there may be some sandbagging going on here, the Obama campaign may be prepared to do just that. On the gripping hand, it’s a real shame that the Cheers episode where Cliff Clavin gets wired up to a portable electroshock machine for a little aversion therapy isn’t easily available online: it’s the perfect metaphor for this situation.