Palin Annoyed By Couric, Wants More Power Than Cheney

Having failed in two interviews with network anchors and being limited to avoiding answers to questions in last night’s debate, the McCain campaign decided it would be safer to limit Palin to friendly interviewers, such as Fox and right wing talk radio. She might actually be of some help to the campaign there if she helps motivate people on the far right to get out to vote. Palin was interviewed by Carl Cameron of Fox and there has actually been a couple items of interest to come out of the interview.

Sarah Palin clearly preferred her interview on Fox as she said how Katie Couric annoyed her. That is hardly surprising as she did not like follow up questions which exposed the fact that she did not understand the issues being asked about.

The next item makes us relieved that in reality Palin will probably be used for nothing other than ceremonial events and outreach to the far right should McCain be elected. She elaborated on her statement during the debate regarding wanting more power for the vice president:

CAMERON: Would you change any of that, (INAUDIBLE) than the Bush/Cheney administration in terms of the power of the executive?

PALIN: Well, again, as I tried to explain last night, our executive branch will know what our job is. We have the three very distinct branches of government. You know, we might be bleeding our authority over to the Legislative or Judicial branch to do our job in the Executive branch as administers.

If Palin could be taken seriously, (or if she ever winds up with real power) she could present an even greater threat to separation of powers than Dick Cheney, who Biden referred to as “the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history.”

Winning By One Electoral Vote

At the moment Obama is in a good position to win by a landslide in the electoral college, leading in all the states Kerry won in most (but not all) polls, along with either leading or being very close in many red states. A rare exception is a Survey USA Poll showing McCain leading in Minnesota by one percent, well within the margin of error. With all the twists we have seen this year, both campaigns are preparing for the possibility of a closer race by election day. A few weeks ago I noted the possibility of a tie or one vote settling the election, with Obama having a shot of picking up one vote in Nebraska.

Both Nebraska and Maine divide up their electoral votes by Congressional district, and both campaigns are interested in the possibility of taking one of the votes. Obama has added a field office in Nebraska.  McCain is going after the one potential Republican electoral vote in Maine. For Obama it definitely makes sense to go after the one vote in Nebraska. He showed the ability to concentrate on narrow areas to maximize his delegates in the primaries, and the same principles can be applied in the electoral college. More importantly, Obama has the resources to spare.

It is not as clear whether this makes sense for McCain, who besides being behind in the major battle ground states including Ohio and Florida, now must defend red states such as Colorado (which is looking increasingly hopeless), Virginia, North Carolina, and even Indiana. A reader at The Corner questions McCain’s strategy in Maine while Marc Ambinder believes the one electoral vote could matter.

The Cook Report looks at what might happen should there be a tie and the election go to the House.

Sarah Palin’s Debate Flow Chart

Aden Nak has exposed Sarah Palin’s debate strategy in the flow chart above. (Click on flow chart for a larger, more readable version.)

Update: The above is presented for its humor, as well as generally being close to how Palin really debated. This does not mean that I go along with the accusations flying around the blogosphere that Palin really did read notes during the debate. Unless there is better evidence than I have seen so far, I will assume that whatever she read during the debate was off of notes taken during the debate, which is allowed under the rules of the debate. Now you can return to either laughing at the above, or to speculating on that lump on George Bush’s back during his debate with John Kerry.

Biden Wins Debate As Palin Avoids Answering Questions

The second debate resulted in another win for the Obama/Biden ticket but it will probably not have much effect on the race. The major accomplishment of this debate was to put an end to the idea that to beat expectations is to win. Sarah Palin did beat expectations, thanks to a combination of extremely low expectations and the lack of follow up questions, but still lost the debate.

The preliminary poll results show a win for Biden. CNN found that Biden won 51% to 36%. CBS News found that among independents Biden won 46% to 21%. Both candidates improved their overall opinion among those responding. Media Curves showed independents thought Biden won 69% to 31%.

As predicted before the debate Palin spent most of the evening avoiding answering questions and therefore avoided winding up in the position of obviously not knowing an answer as occurred in her recent interviews. This tactic helped in terms of allowing her to beat expectations but failed to help win the debate for two reasons. First, while it is common for politicians to avoid answering some questions, she did this to the point of absurdity so that most viewers would notice. Secondly, in the event that some viewers might not notice, she even announced her intentions, saying early in the debate, “And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.”

During the debate the American people might have had some interest in her track record, but they did expect her to answer some questions.

Biden won a number of key points. Palin repeated the same lies which have been debunked numerous times before regarding Obama’s record on taxes, such as the claim that Obama had voted to increase taxes 94 times. This number is calculated by counting a wide variety of measures as a tax increase, and someone in the Obama/Biden campaign realized that it was inevitable that McCain, having been in Congress longer, would have voted for even more tax increases than Obama using their logic. Biden responded to Palin’s attack by responding that, “using the standard that the governor uses, John McCain voted 477 times to raise taxes.” Biden made an error on the specifics of his defense of the claim that Obama voted to increase taxes on those earning $42,000 a year, but this claim has previously been debunked. More importantly, Obama’s tax plan would give a far larger tax cut to such individuals than McCain’s.

Biden also had a strong answer to cut through Palin’s strategy on global warming (which was my immediate reaction the first time I heard an argument from Palin along these lines). Palin has been trying to downplay her denial of the scientific consensus on the human role in global warming with evasions such as, “I don’t want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?” Biden easily showed the weakness of her approach in arguing, “If you don’t understand what the cause is, it’s virtually impossible to come up with a solution. We know what the cause is. The cause is manmade.”

As would be expected, Biden was especially strong on foreign policy. While Palin tried various strategies to obfuscate the issue, Biden cut through her distortions on Iraq with a clear statement of how Obama and McCain differed on the war:

this is a fundamental difference between us, we’ll end this war. For John McCain, there’s no end in sight to end this war, fundamental difference. We will end this war.

Biden also showed that John McCain has been wrong on the Iraq war and responded to accusations that Obama had voted to cut off funding to the troops:

John McCain voted to cut off funding for the troops. Let me say that again. John McCain voted against an amendment containing $1 billion, $600 million that I had gotten to get MRAPS, those things that are protecting the governor’s son and pray god my son and a lot of other sons and daughters.

He voted against it. He voted against funding because he said the amendment had a time line in it to end this war. He didn’t like that. But let’s get straight who has been right and wrong. John McCain and Dick Cheney said while I was saying we would not be greeted as liberators, we would not – this war would take a decade and not a day, not a week and not six months, we would not be out of there quickly. John McCain was saying the Sunnis and Shias got along with each other without reading the history of the last 700 years. John McCain said there would be enough oil to pay for this. John McCain has been dead wrong. I love him. As my mother would say, god love him, but he’s been dead wrong on the fundamental issues relating to the conduct of the war. Barack Obama has been right. There are the facts.

Biden responded to the attacks on Obama for supporting negotiations with enemies without preconditions, noting that our allies and five secretaries of state have supported this idea. He contrasted this with the policies of George Bush and the view of John McCain:

John McCain said as recently as a couple of weeks ago he wouldn’t even sit down with the government of Spain, a NATO ally that has troops in Afghanistan with us now. I find that incredible.

Palin was desperate to keep Biden from comparing McCain’s policies to those of George Bush,  accusing him of “Just looking backwards, Senator?” This is an especially weak argument, showing the danger of how Palin and McCain would repeat the same mistakes of the past by failing to pay attention to history.

Palin tried to turn her outsider status into an advantage, but this is difficult when John McCain is heading the ticket. At one point Palin said, “I think we need a little bit of reality from Wasilla Main Street there, brought to Washington, D.C.” Does she mean bring the reality of the metamphetamine capital of Alaska to Washington, D.C.? The idea that “reality from Wasilla Main Street” is any substitute for actual knowledge of the issues contributed to Palin’s defeat in the debate.

Palin appeared to be following Dick Cheney in seeing the vice presidency as being outside the Executive Branch and in seeking more power for the position:

IFILL: 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?

PALIN: Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president’s agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we’ll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation. And it is my executive experience that is partly to be attributed to my pick as V.P. with McCain, not only as a governor, but earlier on as a mayor, as an oil and gas regulator, as a business owner. It is those years of experience on an executive level that will be put to good use in the White House also.

I doubt that John McCain would give Sarah Palin much authority at all should they be elected. In any event, it would be safer for them politically if voters did not see Palin as having much power. Palin’s comparisons to Dick Cheney are especially unwise as many people would agree with Joe Biden that “Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history.” Their views on Dick Cheney was also the topic of an interview quesiton with Katie Couric which was released today.

Despite this comparison with Cheney, Palin generally tried to separate McCain from the failures of Republican rule by repeatedly bringing up the maverick line. Biden finally had enough of this and responded with his best statement of the night:

Look, the maverick — let’s talk about the maverick John McCain is. And, again, I love him. He’s been a maverick on some issues, but he has been no maverick on the things that matter to people’s lives.

He voted four out of five times for George Bush’s budget, which put us a half a trillion dollars in debt this year and over $3 trillion in debt since he’s got there.

He has not been a maverick in providing health care for people. He has voted against — he voted including another 3.6 million children in coverage of the existing health care plan, when he voted in the United States Senate.

He’s not been a maverick when it comes to education. He has not supported tax cuts and significant changes for people being able to send their kids to college.

He’s not been a maverick on the war. He’s not been a maverick on virtually anything that genuinely affects the things that people really talk about around their kitchen table.

Can we send — can we get Mom’s MRI? Can we send Mary back to school next semester? We can’t — we can’t make it. How are we going to heat the — heat the house this winter?

He voted against even providing for what they call LIHEAP, for assistance to people, with oil prices going through the roof in the winter.

So maverick he is not on the important, critical issues that affect people at that kitchen table.

As I wrote earlier, the only way Sarah Palin is a maverick is in her approach to the debate.

These debates often include a question where a candidate has to own up to a flaw and the trick is to answer without doing harm. The variation on this form of question  was, “can you think of a single issue, policy issue, in which you were forced to change a long-held view in order to accommodate changed circumstances?” While Palin babbled without a good response, Biden was well prepared:

Yes, I can. When I got to the United States Senate and went on the Judiciary Committee as a young lawyer, I was of the view and had been trained in the view that the only thing that mattered was whether or not a nominee appointed, suggested by the president had a judicial temperament, had not committed a crime of moral turpitude, and was — had been a good student.

And it didn’t take me long — it was hard to change, but it didn’t take me long, but it took about five years for me to realize that the ideology of that judge makes a big difference.

That’s why I led the fight against Judge Bork. Had he been on the court, I suspect there would be a lot of changes that I don’t like and the American people wouldn’t like, including everything from Roe v. Wade to issues relating to civil rights and civil liberties.

And so that — that — that was one of the intellectual changes that took place in my career as I got a close look at it. And that’s why I was the first chairman of the Judiciary Committee to forthrightly state that it matters what your judicial philosophy is. The American people have a right to understand it and to know it.

But I did change on that, and — and I’m glad I did.

This was an excellent answer on many levels. Biden managed to give an actual answer but had an example where no reasonable person would see it as a flaw to change his mind. I was also happy to see him bring up Roe v. Wade and civil liberties. While foreign policy and the economy have dominated the debate and the campaign, the differences between Obama and McCain on these issues are just as important. Biden’s concerns regarding Roe v. Wade and civil liberties apply to the election of John McCain as president just as mush as they dd to the nomination of Judge Bork to the Supreme Court. It is a shame that other civil liberties concerns were not raised during the debate, such as Palin’s attempt at banning books in Wasilla.

Biden won a number of debate points but none of these will overshadow the main event between Barack Obama and John McCain. Most likely the race will continue just as it was prior to the debate, with Obama moving out to a significant lead, and with the vice presidential candidates no longer having a significant role.