Joe Biden is, for better and for worse, going to be himself. He’s going to have some smart answers and he’s going to be wordy at times, and he’ll be humorous at times. He’s been around too long to change any of that. What I’ve read in the papers and online is that, surprisingly, he must constrain his wide smile, and that he needs to temper his responses. They say these character adjustments are necessary so that he does not appear to be condescending towards Sarah Palin.
To that I say, how can anyone appear not to be condescending when they are up against this?
I mean really… If a question comes up about Supreme Court cases and Palin doesn’t know what Gwen Ifill is talking about and Biden does, what’s he supposed to do? Say he can’t recall the case and let it go? Biden teaches Constitutional Law at Widener Law School. He could talk in great depth about any case brought up in a debate question. Palin obviously could not unless it was a lengthy question that provided a lot of background information and context to help her out.
Biden had been in the Senate for 35 years, so he obviously knows way more about the workings of the Federal Government than Palin. He should have no problem sounding like he knows what he’s talking about. He just has to not sound like he’s better than her because he’s a lawyer and a long-time senator. (even though he is way, way better.)
So what will Palin be like? Well she can’t be like the Palin we’ve seen in the Katie Couric interviews for the past week. She will have to be much more like the Palin we saw at the Republican Convention.
How can she be like that in a debate? Well it’s pretty simple really. She’s getting coached on delivering a script of talking points. I’d bet that she’s going through final rehearsals right now. She’ll be armed with her memorized script crafted in a way that can be used to answer a variety of questions asked in a variety of ways. She will not stray from the script. She will also have some “zingers” aimed at Biden and Obama that her campaign advisors are hoping will be delivered sharply and with a big wide-eyed smile so that the mainstream media news channels will replay them over and over and over again.
Whether or not this works for he is going to depend on Gwen Ifill’s questions. If she asks a few that aren’t quite what Palin and her handlers expected, and Palin answers with a talking point that doesn’t really fit the question, and Ifill (or Biden in his response) asks her to get back to the question, then we might see a bit of the Palin we’ve seen in the Couric interview. And if we do, McCain is toast.