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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Spinning the Veep Debate Beforehand

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ever since Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain's running mate, we've all looked ahead to her debate with The Orator Joe Biden. On the face of it, the debate is tee'd up for Biden, a politician with a 36 year career in the nation's highest deliberative body. But a more nuanced view of Thursday's debate emerged early on as well.

Biden better be careful, this view goes, not to beat Sarah Palin too badly in the debate. He needs to make sure he doesn't bully her around and so come off as mean and ugly. Proponents of this view (many of whom are Biden's Democratic congressional colleagues) point to the 1988 Vice Presidential debate between Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle.

And in fact, McCain surrogates hit the talk shows early this week to begin spinning the debate that way, four days beforehand. "Gotcha Questions," is what they're predicting, which, of course, come from the school of "Gotcha Journalism" that seeks to crush the loveable Governor.

Let me just say right now that for Biden to try to dial it down during the debate would be a mistake. Dial it down is not Biden's M.O., and if he tries to make it so he will have squandered one of the best chances the Obama ticket is going to get to show voters the stark, stark difference between itself and the McCain alternative.

Biden needs to do what Biden does best. Attack, rail, embellish, pound the lectern, point, whisper--whatever he has in his bag of rhetorical tricks needs to come out. Biden vs. Palin is a tremendous asset for Obama. And if you let your opponent turn your assets into liabilities, you've already lost.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:33 PM

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