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I heard yesterday that the Nielsen ratings for the Palin-Biden VP debate were 40% higher than for the first McCain-Obama presidential debate. A transcript of the debate can be found here.
And the audience wasn't tuning in to see Joe Biden.
The VP debate was all about Sarah Palin. Democrats were eagerly tuning in to watch Palin fall flat on her face, and Republicans were watching anxiously in the hopes that she wouldn't.
It was a good night for the Republicans. Palin, who only 5 weeks earlier was occupied with running the state of Alaska, more than held her own with Joe Experience and his 36 years in Congress (36 years FOR CHANGE, apparently).
It wasn't that Biden had a bad night. He stayed on point, hammering home the idea that McCain was just like Bush, the key Democratic strategy for this presidential election. Biden displayed an expansive knowledge of political history. Adding to the gravitas of Biden's words was the fact that about half of his talking points were actually true. The other half, not so much. Palin also had some mis-statements, but it's pretty clear that Biden, not known as one to be constrained by anything so bothersome as the truth, won the Creative Political Fiction award for the night. Once the fact checkers get done analyzing the debate, I'm sure they will reach the same conclusion. Here are a few examples of Biden's, um, creativity:
Biden, Mr. Foreign Policy Expert, claimed NATO had driven Hezbollah from Lebanon prior to Bush screwing it all up. Wrong.
Mr. Foreign Policy Expert claimed that when he voted for the AUTHORIZATION TO USE MILITARY FORCE IN IRAQ, he wasn't voting for an authorization to use military force in Iraq, he was just voting to give Bush the authority to use a Dustbuster to vacuum the Iraqi desert, or something like that. Palin cleaned Biden's clock on that nonsensical position.
Mr. Foreign Policy Expert claimed Obama never said he'd negotiate with Iranian leaders without precondition, which, of course, Obama did say.
Mr. Foreign Policy Expert claimed that Gen. McKiernan said the surge strategy could not work in Afghantistan. Palin responded correctly that McKiernan (though Palin mistakenly called him 'McCellan') said no such thing. In fact, McKiernan said principles of the surge strategy COULD be applied in Afghanistan.
Biden claimed he was taken out of context when Palin confronted Biden for being against the use of coal for energy on that rope line. To be clear, Biden said there will be "no coal plants in America" on that rope line. Out of context, my fanny.
Biden said McCain voted “the exact same way” as Obama to increase taxes on Americans earning just $42,000, which McCain did not do.
Biden said McCain also voted against funding the troops like Obama did. Untrue. There was only one bill for final passage, one that contained no timeline for withdrawal. Bush had already indicated that he'd veto any bill that had a withdrawal timeline. In the final bill presented for a Congressional vote, Obama voted AGAINST funding the troops. McCain voted FOR funding the troops.
Biden said he was for offshore drilling, but Palin pointed out that Biden had previously called drilling a "raping" of the environment.
Biden was grossly exaggerating when he claimed McCain had voted against alternative energy 23 times. We all know how bills get hundreds of add-ons thrown into them. McCain wasn't voting against alternative energy at all. As McCain said during his own debate, "nobody is against alternative energy."
Biden falsely said McCain was for deregulation, when McCain called for more regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. One fault with Palin in the debate was how she dodged the deregulation question. I am completely baffled by this non-response, especially since McCain also avoided the subject in his debate. As Democrats are repeatedly attacking Republicans on this issue, the Republicans are leaving all their ammunition in the gun. I don't get it.
Biden said no American would pay a higher tax rate under Obama than they did under Reagan. That is false. The highest tax rate under Reagan was around 28-29%. It would be 39% under Obama.
Biden claimed people will pay more taxes under McCain's health plan. Not true. They will pay less, since McCain's health care tax credit far outweighs the fact that they are taxable.
Biden claimed Palin instituted a windfall profits tax in Alaska. Not true. Palin made tax reforms that increased taxes on oil companies, but they weren't a windfall profits tax.
Biden said the financial bailout incorporated the four principles Obama laid out (as if Obama has provided any leadership on the bailout, which he hasn't), but two of the four principles Obama referenced in his speech are not included in the bailout package.
Biden repeated the same distortion of McCain saying "the fundamentals of our economy are strong" comment. McCain actually said the economy was in crisis.
As for Palin, her mis-statements were:
She claimed McCain's health care plan would be budget neutral. It would not be. It would reduce government revenues and not replace them.
Palin said Iraq troop levels were at pre-surge numbers. This one is true in spirit, if not precisely true. Troop levels are still a little higher than before the surge, but they have come way down.
Palin claimed that “millions of small businesses” would see tax increases under Obama’s tax proposals. At most, several hundred thousand business owners would see increases.
Palin said it was the VP's job to "preside over the Senate." Nope. The Constitutional power of the VP is only to break a tie vote in the Senate.
On the basis of who was the more honest, Palin won the debate. On the basis of who was the bigger bs-er, Biden did.