Friday, October 31, 2008

Ballot Endorsement: Vote No on The Marriage Amendments

Voters in Florida, Arizona, and California will have an opportunity to vote on constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.

In California, Proposition 8 offers residents a chance to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that declared as unconstitutional state laws granting gay couples the equal right to marry as their straight counterparts. Before the court issued its ruling, California provided its gay and bisexual same-sex couples the right to enter into domestic partnerships that entitled them to nearly every right it affords to their heterosexual and bisexual different-sex counterparts.

Voters in California have been bombarded with campaign commercials from activists on both sides of the political divide. The conservative evangelicals have preyed upon the average parent's fear that their son or daughter will be (a) taught about gay marriages in their public schools and (b) consequently may be encouraged to enter into a relationship they do not consider morally valid. Recently, they have seized upon one teacher's decision to have her student's sign onto a pledge that they will not use any anti-gay epithets in the classroom.

Parents who are concerned about their son or daughter's moral upbringing, however, are protected by an opt-out law that allows them to remove their children from the classroom when controversial topics like abortion and same-sex marriage. The First Amendment's religious establishment clause would protect them from such violations as well.

The propositions supporters say this is not about gay people or their rights but the campaign as of now suggests they are not telling the truth. The anti-epithet pledge can only be used to validate their argument if they have an objection to homosexuality itself and not just same-sex marriage and its funding had come primarily from two very anti-gay organizations, the Mormons and the Catholic-adhering Knights of Columbus. Their objection to one teacher's attempt to make her classroom safer learning environment should disgust anyone who had heard about it.

Overturning the Supreme Court's decision will not protect marriage from social decay. Insofar as it encourages procreation, it is unnecessary. Straight couples will behave like straight couples and procreate whether the law prohibits gay couples from marrying or not and gay couples will behave like gay couples whether the state recognizes it or not. Focusing on the behavioral practices of the two-to-five percent of the population that engages in same-sex intimate practices when their straight counterparts can divorce at will is bizarre. And if the proposition 8 supporters are really concerned about providing the children within the state with a father and a mother, it would tighten the laws which allow the parents to divorce at will.

California residents should vote "No on 8" and send this bill which does nothing but insult their tax-paying gay brothers, sisters and neighbors to the trash bin.

Gay marriage constitutional amendments are up for votes in Arizona and Florida as well. Conservatives failed to pass a far more over-reaching ban after senior citizens believed it would deny them the right to enter into domestic partnerships with their different-sex non-married counterparts. The current amendment, however, includes no phrasing outlawing civil union and domestic partnership recognition in the state. Gay marriages currently are not recognized by Arizona and the state does not recognize its legal "equivalents" (civil unions and domestic partnerships). The reasons stated for the Political Heretic's opposition to the California Amendment apply here as well. Voters should reject the amendment supporter's call for stricter marriage amendments.

Florida voters are poised to accept the most ominously mean-spirited of the three amendments under consideration. Amendment 2 would ban civil unions as well as gay marriages while putting the domestic partnership legislation protecting hospital visitation and property rights in legal jeopardy. John Stemberger's denials notwithstanding, this measure is about "hating gay people." At best, exposing gay couples to the endless litigation they may face with relatives who adamantly will not respect the wishes of the loving couples at best shows a callous disregard for the lives of couples. Residents who show up at the polls should vote against Amendment 2.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Argument that is Contradicted

In its endorsement of Senator John McCain the Knoxville News-Sentinel, goes to great lengths to first, note where their differences will be tempered, and then makes the case for divided government. Why would one care for divided government if, as the editorial board suggests, the differences between the two, at least pragmatically are too small?

Go figure.

The Divided Government Argument

As the Political Heretic reads the editorial endorsements from newspapers across the country he notes two themes that usually come up (and no, he is not referring to the dubious Bill Ayers association allegations raised by the less credible newspapers).

First, they all point to the virtues of divided government. A President John McCain, they argue, would veto the "tax-and-spend" programs which a Democratic-run House and Senate would pass. Were Obama the nominee, however, all bets would be off. No one would be there to reign in the spending. The Democrats in the Senate and the House would, we are told, pass the big-thrift spending programs an Obama administration woudl propose and Obama would be too weak to veto any big spending bills which the House and Senate Democrats pass.

What these writers either forget is that Senator Obama may not get a working Democratic majority in the senate or in the house. The Democrats are counting on the elections of moderate-to-conservative southern Democrats to solidify their hold in the House and in the senate, the Democrats need 60 consistently reliable votes to stop a filibuster.

They also assume that, somehow, at the end of the day, both sides would come together and work out a deal amicable to both sides. Did that happen? Only if one includes the bailout deal passed last month. Divided government allowed both sides to do nothing and blame the other side for what happened. Divided government, in sum, led to no virtually no government.

The other claim which these conservative editorial boards put forth (and they are all, for the most part, conservative) is that Senator Barack Obama is a socialist who will move this country towards the social democratic models employed by the Europeans.

MSNBC pundits have already debunked this scare-tactic by noting that we have already moved this country down that road with the passage of an income tax. Welfare (now workfare) programs are socialist programs in so far as we take money from the individuals who pay taxes and give it to programs benefiting the poor. Money which the federal government raises from rich school districts may go to poorer districts.
Means-testing entitlement programs like social security and medicare would make them inherently socialist in nature because the payroll taxes which we all pay would then be used to help only those who need it. Many Republicans once suggested that we means-test social security. Did that make them Republican socialists?

I think not.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

McCain's VP Running Mate Selection: Impetuous Beyond Belief

From Robert Draper's article in magazine section of The New York Times:

"On Sunday, Aug. 24, Schmidt and a few other senior advisers again convened for a general strategy meeting at the Phoenix Ritz-Carlton. McInturff, the pollster, brought somewhat-reassuring new numbers. The Celebrity motif had taken its toll on Obama. It was no longer third and nine, the pollster said — meaning, among other things, that McCain might well be advised to go with a safe pick as his running mate.

Then for a half-hour or so, the group reviewed names that had been bandied about in the past: Gov. Tim Pawlenty (of Minnesota) and Gov. Charlie Crist (of Florida); the former governors Tom Ridge (Pennsylvania) and Mitt Romney (Massachusetts); Senator Joe Lieberman (Connecticut); and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (New York). From a branding standpoint, they wondered, what message would each of these candidates send about John McCain? McInturff’s polling data suggested that none of these candidates brought significantly more to the ticket than any other.

“What about Sarah Palin?” Schmidt asked.

After a moment of silence, Fred Davis, McCain’s creative director (and not related to Rick), said, “I did the ads for her gubernatorial campaign.” But Davis had never once spoken with Palin, the governor of Alaska. Since the Republican Governors Association had paid for his work, Davis was prohibited by campaign laws from having any contact with the candidate. All Davis knew was that the R.G.A. folks had viewed Palin as a talent to keep an eye on. “She’d certainly be a maverick pick,” he concluded.

The meeting carried on without Schmidt or Rick Davis uttering an opinion about Palin. Few in the room were aware that the two had been speaking to each other about Palin for some time now."

So Palin the VP running mate was the brain child of two people neither of whom was the candidate himself.

Davis was with McCain when the two met Palin for the first time, at a reception at the National Governors Association winter meeting in February, in the J. W. Marriott Hotel in Washington. It had not escaped McCain’s attention that Palin had blasted through the oleaginous Alaska network dominated by Frank Murkowski and Ted Stevens, much in the same manner that McCain saw himself doing when he was a young congressman. Newt Gingrich and others had spoken of Palin as a rising star. Davis saw something else in Palin — namely, a way to re-establish the maverick persona McCain had lost while wedding himself to Bush’s war. A female running mate might also pick off some disaffected Hillary Clinton voters.

A"fter that first brief meeting, Davis remained in discreet but frequent contact with Palin and her staff — gathering tapes of speeches and interviews, as he was doing with all potential vice-presidential candidates."

Note my emphasis on the word "brief." Did McCain see her in passing? Did he merely exchange a few pleasant courtesies with her and shake hands or did he actually talk with her about substantive issues. We don't know, aside from the fact that it was "brief."

"One tape in particular struck Davis as arresting: an interview with Palin and Gov. Janet Napolitano, the Arizona Democrat, on “The Charlie Rose Show” that was shown in October 2007. Reviewing the tape, it didn’t concern Davis that Palin seemed out of her depth on health-care issues or that, when asked to name her favorite candidate among the Republican field, she said, “I’m undecided.” What he liked was how she stuck to her pet issues — energy independence and ethics reform — and thereby refused to let Rose manage the interview. This was the case throughout all of the Palin footage. Consistency. Confidence. And . . . well, look at her. A friend had said to Davis: “The way you pick a vice president is, you get a frame of Time magazine, and you put the pictures of the people in that frame. You look at who fits that frame best — that’s your V. P.”

So let's get this straight. It doesn't matter if the prospect in question is an empty-suit as long as that person can b.s. with style.

"Schmidt, to whom Davis quietly supplied the Palin footage, agreed. Neither man apparently saw her lack of familiarity with major national or international issues as a serious liability. Instead, well before McCain made his selection, his chief strategist and his campaign manager both concluded that Sarah Palin would be the most dynamic pick. Despite McInturff’s encouraging new numbers, it remained their conviction that in this ominous election cycle, a Republican presidential candidate could not afford to play it safe. Picking Palin would upend the chessboard; it was a maverick type of move. McCain, the former Navy pilot, loved that sort of thing. Then again, he also loved familiarity — the swashbuckling camaraderie with his longtime staff members, the P.O.W. band of brothers who frequently rode the bus and popped up at his campaign events, the Sedona ranch where he unwound and grilled wagonloads of meat. By contrast, McCain had barely met Palin."

This is so out of character for a man who says he'd rather "lose an election than lose a war." A man who'd rather lose an election than a war wouldn't rather win an election than nominate someone who can effectively fight a war?

"That evening of Aug. 24, Schmidt and Davis, after leaving the Ritz-Carlton meeting, showed up at McCain’s condominium in Phoenix. They informed McCain that in their view, Palin would be the best pick."

One day before the Democratic convention began? Did McCain meet with Palin before that? Only briefly.

But he picked up the phone.” Reached at the Alaska State Fair, Palin listened as McCain for the first time discussed the possibility of selecting her as his running mate.

These machinations remained thoroughly sub rosa. McCain’s close friend, Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator, continued to argue passionately for Lieberman — “a McCain-Plus ticket,” he would say. McCain, referring to Romney, at one point said that “Mitt’s been awfully helpful with fund-raising,” according to a senior aide who was present during the discussion. “And he’d bring us Michigan.” Pawlenty’s name frequently came up in internal discussions, says that aide. But as for Palin, says another: “She just wasn’t one of the names. I mean, we heard more about Bloomberg.”

On Tuesday, Aug. 26, Schmidt picked up the phone around noon and called Jon Berrier, an old friend and partner at Schmidt’s consulting business in Northern California. Berrier was asked to get on a plane to Anchorage, check into a hotel, await further details and tell no one. The next morning, Davis White, who oversaw all of McCain’s travel logistics, met Berrier for breakfast in Anchorage. White informed Berrier that they would meet Palin at a private airstrip that afternoon, and that White would fly with Palin to Arizona to meet with Schmidt and Salter that evening — and then, the following morning, with McCain. If McCain offered the vice-president slot to Palin, White told Berrier, then Berrier would surreptitiously fly Palin’s husband, Todd, and their children to Ohio on Thursday evening, and a public announcement would be made there the next morning. The final decision wasn’t to be made until Thursday morning, but they should proceed as if it was going to happen.

Let me re-post this without the break so you can see what's wrong with this picture.

"That evening of Aug. 24, Schmidt and Davis, after leaving the Ritz-Carlton meeting, showed up at McCain’s condominium in Phoenix. They informed McCain that in their view, Palin would be the best pick. “You never know where his head is,” Davis told me three weeks later. “He doesn’t betray a lot. He’s a great poker player. But he picked up the phone.” Reached at the Alaska State Fair, Palin listened as McCain for the first time discussed the possibility of selecting her as his running mate."

Palin, for the record was introduced to the American people as Senator John McCain's running mate on Friday, August 29 so we are talking about at most a TWO-DAY SPAN span between the time Schmidt and Davis recommended her and the time in which McCain picked up the phone and said she might be his running mate.

"Palin and her assistant, Kris Perry, met Schmidt and Salter on Wednesday evening in Flagstaff, at the house of Bob Delgado, the chief executive of Hensley & Company, Cindy McCain’s beer distributorship. McCain’s speechwriter had never spoken with Palin before. A senior adviser said: “Salter was always a big Pawlenty fan — son of a truck driver, salt of the earth, genuine guy. Just thought he was a good, honest addition to the McCain brand as opposed to, say, Romney.” That so much momentum had been building in Palin’s favor was likely a surprise to Salter, says one of the few individuals privy to the vice-presidential selection process: “Mark was new to it, and so it was important to us to make sure that he was in on the situation that was brewing.”

For two hours, Salter and Schmidt asked Palin questions based on the vetting material. Salter says they discussed her daughter’s pregnancy and the pending state investigation regarding her role in the controversy surrounding the state trooper who had been married to her sister. The two advisers warned her that nothing was likely to stay secret during the campaign. Salter says that he was impressed. “The sense you immediately get is how tough-minded and self-assured she is,” he recalled three weeks after meeting her. “She makes that impression in like 30 seconds.”

Two hours with the advisers. I wonder if they covered all of the bases in two hours.

"Now all three of McCain’s closest advisers were on board. The next morning was Thursday, Aug. 28. Salter and Schmidt drove Palin to McCain’s ranch. According to Salter, the senator took the governor down to a place where he usually had his coffee, beside a creek and a sycamore tree, where a rare breed of hawk seasonally nested. They spoke for more than an hour. Then the two of them walked about 40 yards to the deck of the cabin where the McCains slept. Cindy joined them there for about 15 minutes, after which the McCains excused themselves and went for a brief stroll to discuss the matter. When they returned, McCain asked for some time with Schmidt and Salter. “And we did our pros and cons on all of them,” Salter told me. “He just listened. Asked a couple of questions. Then said, ‘I’m going to offer it to her.’ ”

I think McCain is trusting his advisers a little too much. Have you done all of the pros- and cons? What a vaguely-worded question that could refer to Palin's potential as a candidate and her potential governing. One hour of meeting time (or more accurately <2 hours of meeting time) should not be enough to seal the deal when you expect to work with that person for the next four years.

Friday, October 24, 2008

We Recommend

Neither? but still vote, by all means still vote. We urge you to vote even if we cannot decide who you should vote for. Oh and we urge you to vote in spite of this "poisonous" atmosphere that has turned us off.

Which editorial board gave us this inconsistent message?

The Waco Tribune Herald.

Two Quick Thoughts about Palin and the VP Gaffe

1. I don't quite know which is worse - the fact that she got it wrong or the fact that a teacher, by correcting her ill-informed statements concerning the vice president's role (the she'd be in charge of the senate statement) confirmed in the student's minds that ignorance is not a hindrance to success.

2. Remember her reaction to the passport question? She learned from books while parents shipped their kids off to Europe with luggage. Well, the history books all refer back to the constitution and if she was paying attention she would note that the Constitution grants to the vice president two awesome responsibilities:

(a) to cast any and all tie-breaking votes in the senate
(b) to step in should the president be incapacitated, die, or otherwise be forced to die.

Yes, Vice Presidents Al Gore and Richard Cheney were very active vice presidents. Yes, they were given responsibilities which no vice president in the early 20th century would dream of - but they were given those responsibilities at the president's own discretion. What one president giveth another may taketh away.

If Senator Obama wins, I hope he uses Senator Biden to the max but behind the scenes. Senator Biden has impeccable foreign policy and national security credentials but since he is prone to gaffe he should be out of sight out of mind.

If Senator John McCain wins I hope he doesn't use Governor Sarah Palin at all and, this request goes to all of the religious people out there, pray for McCain's health. I don't believe five minutes of praying will help but the outside chance of it working is worth the effort, just in case.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Republicans for Obama

Three Republicans endorsing Obama within this last week - former Secretary of State and General Colin Powell's endorsement on Sunday.

Why so, since my views align a lot more with McCain’s than with Obama’s? And since I truly dread the notion of a Democratic president, Democratic House, and hugely Democratic Senate?

Primarily for two reasons, those of temperament and of judgment.

When the economic crisis broke, I found John McCain bouncing all over the place. In those first few crisis days, he was impetuous, inconsistent, and imprudent; ending up just plain weird. Having worked with Ronald Reagan for seven years, and been with him in his critical three summits with Gorbachev, I’ve concluded that that’s no way a president can act under pressure.

Second is judgment. The most important decision John McCain made in his long campaign was deciding on a running mate.

That decision showed appalling lack of judgment. Not only is Sarah Palin not close to being acceptable in high office—I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency. But that selection contradicted McCain’s main two, and best two, themes for his campaign—Country First, and experience counts. Neither can he credibly claim, post-Palin pick.

I sure hope Obama is more open, centrist, sensible—dare I say, Clintonesque—than his liberal record indicates, than his cooperation with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid portends. If not, I will be even more startled by my vote than I am now.
- Ken Adelman as quoted in The New Yorker

The candidates disagree as to where to prosecute the war against Islamic fundamentalists. Barack Obama is correct in saying the front line in that battle is not Iraq, it's the Afghan-Pakistan border. Osama bin Laden crossed that border from Tora Bora in December 2001, and we stopped pursuit. The Bush administration outsourced the hunt for bin Laden and instead invaded Iraq.

No one in Iraq caused the death of 3,000 Americans on 9/11. Our invasion was based on a false predicate, so we have no business being there, regardless of whether the surge is working. Our focus must be the tribal-ruled FATA region in Pakistan. Only recently has our military engaged al-Qaeda there in operations that mirror those Obama was ridiculed for recommending in August 2007.

Last spring, Obama told me: "It's not that I was opposed to war [in Iraq]. It's that I felt we had a war that we had not finished." Even Sen. Joe Lieberman conceded to me last Friday that "the headquarters of our opposition, our enemies today" is the FATA.
- radio talk show host Michael Smerconish in his column found in The Philadelphia Inquirer

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Presidential Endorsement: Senator Barack Obama

Every four years, American people of almost every conceivable background have a chance to shape the destiny of this great country of ours by voting for the next president of the United States.

The question that we inevitably consider as we step into those voting booths is if we are better off now then we were four years ago and if the answer to that question is a resounding “yes” then we reward the candidates who contributed to the success with our vote. But if the answer to that question is a “deafening” no then we vote for the alternative.

In a country as diverse as ours, the answer to that question may depend upon where you sit. People of color may be far more concerned about the failures of inner city schools, far more sensitive to criminal profiling than their white brothers and sisters in the affluent suburbs. People who reside in the cities generally look to the police to fight crime while their residents in the country “cling to” their guns.

As a general rule, Native Americans do not celebrate Columbus Day; Italian Americans do. Blue-collar working Americans fear the illegal immigration their more affluent cousins profit from it. Whether they are religious or not, heterosexual Americans think marriage is between a “man and a woman” while their gay counterparts think that definition marginalizes them as a people. Younger generations of voters don’t care. Conservative evangelicals and gays, for different reasons, do.

People earning six or seven-figures clearly believe they are better off now then they were eight years ago. Middle class voters are beginning to worry.

Crises have a way of bringing us together. A sharply divided and polarized nation rallied behind a disputably-elected President George W. Bush on 9-11. The terrorists who brought the World Trade Center twin towers down didn’t care if we were gay or straight, Christian or Muslim, male or female, hawk or dove, or adult or child.

That rallying effect in moments of crises is not the inevitable result of our good nature. Katrina showed us what happens when the government when the inept management of a federal bureaucracy responds to a crisis poorly and when a president fails to rally that “army of compassion” in a timely manner. We grow complacent. Divisions simmer. Hidden grievances resurface.

Our next president will have to respond to the, emerging economic crisis. Wages are stagnating as the value of the U.S. dollar is declining. The housing bubble burst as new homeowners failed to make their payments, causing the banks which lent to them and each other to freeze their credit. The crisis of confidence in the mortgage industry contributed to a dive in stock market, wiping out the pensions of workers from “sea to shining sea.” And if we didn’t know about it before the crash, we know now that what happens on Wall Street affects what happens on Main Street. Everything is interconnected.

Economists believe we are in a recession and if our worst fears are realized (that we are headed into a depression) then we will all live on Main Street, literally. The obligations we have to the baby boomers, in the form of social security and Medicare checks, has yet to be fulfilled.

Today, more then ever, we need a president who can rally the nation behind him as he responds to these current and emerging crises and as we step into that voting booth on November 4th, we must ask ourselves if we as a whole and not as individuals, are better off now then we were four or eight years ago.

We are blessed, in this moment in time, to be represented by two, essentially qualified individuals, who can plausibly make that case but the Political Heretic considers Barack Obama to be the far more preferable of the two major candidates running for office.

The Potential McCain Squandered

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), a former POW who once put the interests of his comrades-in-arms above his own by declining early release, has made a name for himself by reaching across the aisle on numerous occasions while taking the heat from the true-believing partisans within his party.

Senator McCain backed President Bill Clinton’s interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo while his colleagues tried to discredit the former president. He worked with Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) to pass campaign finance reform, co-sponsored an immigration bill, (one which the Political Heretic will give him credit for even though he opposed the measure), with Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and spoke out against President George W. Bush’s tax cuts which largely benefited the wealthy while increasing the national debt. He voted against the colossal but popular prescription drug entitlement program President George W. Bush and a Democratically-controlled Congress signed into law. When the president and his colleagues used the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage to get out the base, Senator McCain stood out against it.
And when most Democrats were clamoring for a popular exit strategy while the Republicans and the Bush administration were in denial (about the strategy) McCain steadfastly supported a troop surge that has worked, albeit, to the limited extent that it could work.

Recently, he and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) co-sponsored caps-and-trade legislation designed to slow down the effects of global warming. Whether one agrees with him or not, the Republican standard-bearer has a history of reaching across the aisle to get things done. He is no George Bush.

The Political Heretic hoped Senator McCain would make this argument of sacrifice to the people. He hoped McCain would make the case for fighting the wars on terror and Iraq fare more effectively and morally (by opposing torture) while asking the wealthier Americans they have to pay their fair share for the war. The Political Heretic hoped McCain would talk about the looming crisis in the Medicare and Social Security programs and offer some cuts (means-testing social security? Raising the retirement age? Agreeing with Obama to raise the cap on taxable payroll income?)

McCain The Candidate: A Weak, Uninspiring Figure Who Tried to Rally the Base On Discredited Policies and Fear-Mongering

McCain, however, emerged from the Republican primaries as a weakened, hollowed image of himself that needed to shore up the support of a base that never trusted him if he was going to win this election.. Hence, his visit to Liberty University and his appeal to the late Reverend Jerry Fallwell, the man who blamed 9-11 on the ACLU, pagans, feminists, and gays. Hence, his flip-flopping on the use of torture and tax cuts for the wealthy. Hence, his wavering positioning on a gay marriage constitutional amendment and the immigration bill he once voted for and hence, his cynical appeal to the base by selecting a know-nothing but down-to-earth conservative governor from Alaska as his vice presidential running mate.

The Know-Nothing VP Running Mate

McCain squandered his chance to rally the American people behind him as a credible American president when he selected Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Palin’s claim to executive experience is thin. She was a mayor of a small town of 5,000 residents before serving her approximately 1 ½ year stint as governor.

Her performance in front of Katie Couric, of all people, was frighteningly poor, leading one conservative columnist, Kathleen Parker, to call for her withdrawal from the race and another conservative columnist, Christopher Buckley, to endorse Senator Barack Obama. The reaction from conservative establishment (aside form The National Review) who are supporting McCain (David Frum, Charles Krauthammer, and Ross Douthat) and those who have yet to endorse (Rod Dreher, Peggy Noonan, and George F. Will) were almost if not just as critical. Whether they are going to support the Republican standard-bearer or not, these conservatives value the drive which leads students across this nation to make it on the honor role and, hopefully, graduate cum laude from the finest educational institutions in America.

They want their candidates to make informed decisions based upon facts on the ground. To them, the most reliable conservative candidates are the principled ones who know, value, respect and can successfully defend in an intellectual debate, the principles for which they stand for. Informed decision-making, that is, the kind which requires more than gut feelings, the kind which the current occupant at the White House lacked, is to be valued - not disparaged. Governor Palin displayed no such qualities on the campaign trail.

She appeared on Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity's shows, two places where she would not have been intellectually challenged and she answered questions for Katie Couric. When she was asked why she didn't get a passport and travel around the world she turned the question on its head and said she wasn't one of 'hem privileged college snobs who are given backpacks to go overseas. No she had to work her way through college. Like Bush, she lacks the intellectual curiosity one would need to respond to the developments that could lead to crises abroad and at home.

The Running Mates McCain Could Have Picked

If he wanted to appeal to women by selecting one of their own as his running mate, Senator McCain could have picked from three of his colleagues in the senate – Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) or Susan Collins (R-Maine). They, like Senator McCain, have negotiated with and co-sponsored legislation with members of the other side of the political aisle. They, like McCain, know how bills are passed and they, like McCain are willing to compromise.

If McCain wanted to rally the conservative base with a nod to the future of the GOP, the Republican standard-bearer could have picked Governor Mark Sanford (R-South Carolina), a two-term governor from South Carolina or Governor Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana) as his running mate. Governor Jindal served as the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, which was responsible for managing Louisiana's Medicaid funds. Jindal's expertise on Medicaid would have served McCain well when handling budgetary matters and entitlement reform.

Even Mitt Romney, the former one-term governor from Massachusetts, would have been a stronger pick. His business would have bolstered McCain's credibility on handling the economic disaster now hurting Main Street.

McCain on the Economy
His response to the economic crisis, has not been reassuring. McCain first denied that we were in the crisis and then had to backtrack from his statement that the “fundamentals” of the economy “were strong,” an assessment shared by the economic adviser he needed to dump, Phil Gramm, after he once said we were in a “mental” as opposed to an actual “recession.” McCain then said that he was “suspending” his campaign for the White House in order to work with the Republicans and Democrats to reach a deal on the bailout proposal, only to watch it fall through and then get passed without his support.

Now he proposes a mortgage buy-out proposal that grossly undermines his support for an across-the-board “spending freeze" he says we need. But then again, McCain's campaign is full of contradictions - earmarks must go somehow go by the wayside even though his vice presidential candidate once promoted them, drilling for more oil that burns fossil fuels while promoting environmental protection, and vowing to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell but not into Pakistan (Is Pakistan worse?)

The "spending freeze" was of course a gimmick he used to answer a question proposed in a presidential debate but there was no follow-up. Building 45 new nuclear power plants, as McCain proposes, requires the money which he says we can't spend. Distributing school voucher checks to parents requires the money which he says we can't spend. Buying out from the banks bad mortgages requires the money which McCain says we can't spend. So what are we supposed to make of this "spending freeze"?. Nothing.

The Scare Tactics

As if his contradictory campaign statements weren't enough, McCain's surrogates, with his tacit approval, have engaged in a war of distraction based upon half-truths, innuendos, and flat-out lies in an attempt to make us hate his Democratic opponent and those who are backing him. These tactics do nothing to bring us together.

His running mate would have us believe that Obama “pals around with terrorists” while she and McCain campaign in parts that love America. The senator from Illinois met Bill Ayers long after his days as a member of the Weather Underground came to an end and his dealings with the man were, for the most part, limited to their roles on a public school reform project known as the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Bill Ayers does support Senator Barack Obama but the senator from Illinois said he does not look to him for advice.

The Chicago Tribune, a conservative newspaper that typically endorses Republican presidential candidates, found nothing that could besmirch Obama's character. In fact, it's editorial board, for the first time in that paper's history endorsed the Democrat. Perhaps the treacherous editorial writers are wandering from their patriotic past.

At one McCain rally, which those effete latte-drinking liberal media snobs play over and over again, one supporter said she is troubled because McCain's opponent. That such a falsehood, even if it were true, should be treated as a scandal is worrisome. There are many hardworking, patriotic Arab Americans in this country. McCain unfortunately forgot to make that point.

McCain himself accuses ACORN, a pro-Obama group, of engaging in voter fraud, which could leave uninformed readers with the mistaken impression that ACORN and Senator Obama are planning to steal this election from John Q. Public. No such plan has surfaced.

We do have investigations into the registration drives ACORN had conducted since there are serious allegations concerning voter registration fraud but this can be attributed to the "community activists" (sorry for the profanity) incentive to increase their paychecks. As of yet there is no evidence that ACORN is conspiring to steal the election let alone evidence that Senator Obama had anything to do with it.

We Need To Move in a New Direction

An honorable campaign driven by the issues would not have won the Political Heretic’s endorsement however. McCain, in part because of his age and in part because he tied himself to a now discredited platform of economic deregulation, and lower taxes for the rich, lacks the ability to inspire the Americans.

McCain, believes in a smaller government when we need an active government that can harness the power of the community to rebuild this nation's infrastructure. McCain believes in less regulation at a time we need someone who will keep an eye on Wall Street and impose new regulations that protect us from more unsavory accounting practices and lending schemes promoted by the filthy rich. McCain says we cannot “spread the wealth around” at this moment when the average American is suffering from a decline in purchasing power. And McCain believes we need to defeat our enemies when we need a president who will try to reach out to them in a spirit of mutual reconciliation.

That shift in direction cannot wait. We need a leader who will change the course this nation is headed in now, not four years from now.

Obama’s Demeanor

Senator Barack Obama offers this country that new direction. His steady, cool, and professorial demeanor have elevated the tone of the campaign (from his side anyway) and earned him the respect of people on both sides of the political aisle.

McCain’s Democratic opponent hasn’t been around as long in Washington to establish his bipartisan credentials but he is off to a good start. Obama co-sponsored a nuclear-arms regulations bill with Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican’s go-to-guy on foreign policy, and worked with the far more conservative Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) on an ethics reform bill.

On the campaign trail, Senator Obama has made a point of reaching out to those on both sides of the political aisle. He is speaking to Americans in the heartland as well as the cities. He spoke at a gay forum sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign and at conservative evangelical Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church And unlike McCain, Obama has picked in Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) a vice presidential running mate who is known far more for his impeccable foreign policy credentials and ability to work with senate colleagues then he is at bringing out the vote.

Right on the Iraq

And what he lacks in experience, Senator Barack Obama more than makes up for in judgment. Unlike his more experienced Republican opponent, Obama voted against the war in Iraq, knowing full well that it would divert our resources away from war against terror.

His opposition to the surge that worked (again, to the limited extent that it did) makes no less sense today then it did when things looked far bleaker. The case for the surge depended in large part, on the disputing Iraqi factions’ capacity and willingness to reach a settlement on Kirkuk’s political status, the divvying up of Iraq’s oil revenues, the holding provincial elections that could allow moderates from all factions to make in-roads that lead to a political settlement, and the incorporation of the Sunni tribes into Iraq’s police force.

The ethnic cleansing has stopped and the Iraqi factions now have the “breathing” space it needs to make a deal but it has not done so yet.

Voters can be forgiven for justifiably asking the presidential candidates why they are spending billions of dollars rebuilding a nation we should never have invaded and a nation who is represented by those who want us to leave, when that money could be put to use rebuilding the crumbling bridges, schools and roads in the United States. McCain said we will stay until the battle for Iraq is won. Obama calls for a 16-month withdrawal.

Fighting the Real War on Terror in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Obama does not, however, has largely sidestepped that meaningless cultural war fight between hawks and doves. He doesn't identify with either. Realist, neo-conservative, paleo-conservative, pacifist, anti-imperialist Chomskyite. These terms have no meaning or use to Obama. These terms divide us; they cause us to think within our respective boxes when we need to hear what our intellectual compatriots of different persuasions have to say.

Obama doesn’t oppose all wars; just “dumb” ones. He would shift US troops away from the “dumb” war in Iraq to the justifiable good Afghan war where such reinforcements are desperately needed. He vows to kill Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9-11 World Trade Center bombings, even if that requires unauthorized (from the Pakistani point of view) military strikes into Pakistani territory based upon actionable intelligence. Though he promises to follow Osama bin Laden to the “gates of hell,” McCain rebuked Obama for supporting strikes into Pakistan. The fear of destabilizing a regime that has to date failed to find and kill Osama bin Laden is beyond this political heretic thinking capacity to reason.

The Lessons of Iran and North Korea

As we have learned in Iraq, however, war is not the be-all, end-all Bush thought it would be. Nations that are destroyed must be rebuilt and the newly installed government can be just as difficult to work with as the one that it replaced.

President George W. Bush tried to isolate North Korea and pressure it into compliance with nuclear weapons inspections to no avail. Kim Jon-Il built a nuclear weapons program, forcing the president to reverse course and negotiate with him again. Whether this is a good agreement or not is besides the point. Our president removed North Korea from its list of terrorist sponsors. So much for isolating a rogue regime.

Senator John McCain made a joke of bombing Iran to Beach Boy music but his opponent knows that a military strike at this point in time is beyond our reach and in any event counter productive. Our forces are tied down in Iraq and any such bombing campaign would undermine the largely pro-western voices of dissent in Iran.

Isolating the Iranian regime hasn't worked. The Russians and the Chinese, yes, two nations McCain has no problem offending, seem unwilling to impose any new tough sanctions on the Iranians so negotiations that are designed to persuade them to suspend their uranium enrichment program are a must. The negotiations may falter but it is worth a shot, particularly if it spares us from another costly war while accomplishing our mission. Should the negotiations falter, the principle actors in the region might support tougher, economically crippling sanctions to bring Iran into compliance.

The Economy – Foreclosure and Homeownership

Of course these issues have been eclipsed in the media spotlight by the seemingly more pressing crisis on Wall Street, the housing bubble burst, and the loss of jobs. Neither candidate offered a plan to get the nation out of this financial debacle and perhaps that should be expected since no on is can say for sure whether we are headed into a major recession or a depression.

As the Political Heretic had noted above, McCain has surrounded himself with advisers who would largely steer this country in that same path of deregulation that helped fuel this crisis. He has proposed a fiscally unsound plan of buying the bad mortgages across the board from the mortgage lenders and renegotiate new, 30-year leases with the defaulting homeowners.

This amounts to a bailout for the banks since they would be getting paid what was owed to them, and not what the houses are worth. In some extreme cases this might be necessary but the price tag is too high to offer an across-the-board bailout.

Obama proposes a 90-day moratorium that buys them some time to refinance their homes by themselves, empower bankruptcy judges to readjust mortgage rates and provide them with a 10% mortgage tax credit that would help them pay off their mortgages. This far more fiscally conservative (ironically) approach might save the taxpayers some money by limiting the bailout to those who, in spite of the 10% mortgage tax Obama would give them or in spite of removing the $10,000 Obama would allow Americans to withdraw from their IRA without penalty or in spite of a bankruptcy judge's ability to renegotiate home mortgages, cannot save their homes.

Tax Cuts: Neither Plan is Affordable but McCain's is Worse In As Much as He Gives Money to Those Who do Not Need it

Senator McCain has repeated the Republican mantra that he will cut our taxes while his opponent, Senator Barack Obama, would raise them. Both candidates offer tax cuts which middle class voters could use which the federal government cannot afford to give. Senator McCain, for example would double the personal child exemption from $3,500 to $7,000 in $500 increments within a six-year span ending in 2016 which is good for households raising children. He also proposed a health insurance tax credit ($5,000 for singles, $10,000 for families). If exclusion that protects employees from having their health insurance taxed was kept this might have been a good deal but it is a substitute for and not a supplement for the exemption).

Senator Barack Obmaa offers a "making work pay" (he calls it) tax credit whereby employees would earn a 6.2% credit for the first $8,100 in pay (that would mean a $500 credit for singles and a $1,000 for a family) which most working families could definitely use but comes with a $700 billion prices tag. That $700 billion which Obama would spend on these paltry but gladly accepted paychecks should be saved to help pay down the debt or offset his spending programs.

Obama would also provide American homeowners with a $500 or $1,000 (depending upon whether you are filing as a single or a family) emergency energy rebate to offset rising heating costs, a 100$ tax credit for the first $4,000 in college expenses, with the promise of guaranteeing at minimum the chance to go to a community college, and the above-mentioned 10% mortgage credit to help pay off mortgage payments. He would make the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit refundable and provide a $7,000 credit for the purchase of new, advanced and supposedly environmentally-friendlier cars. Given what this country owes to the retiring baby boomers, let alone what it needs to save the entitlement programs from going broke soon after, pay for two wars (one, which is still worth the effort, rebuild this nation's infrastructure and pay for Obama's social programs Obama is promising more than he could deliver on.

But at least he offsets these targeted tax cuts, which are,after all, designed to help the average lower and middle class workers from higher energy costs or make college more affordable for their children, is offset by repealing a portion of the Bush tax cuts for those earning $250,000 or more.

He would repeal a portion of the Bush tax cuts. McCain's tax cutting plan is far worse, and skewered to benefit the rich. Senator Obama’s costs the government $2.7 trillion over the next ten years while McCain's cost $3.6 trillion.

McCain offers sweeping tax cuts that, according to the Tax Policy Center, primarily benefit the rich. McCain would keep the Bush tax cut brackets, which are set to expire in 2010, at 28%, 33% and 35%, He would increase the estate tax exemption from the $3.5 million (as if people with that income needed the exemption) to $5 million and then reduce the tax rate for those above that threshold from 45% to 15%.

He would gradually cut the corporate income tax rate by immediately eliminating the 35% tax bracket immediately and then by lowering the remaining new remaining high (34%) down to 30% by 2010, 28% in 2012, 26% in 2014 and then 25% sometime after. McCain says this would spur the economy by providing corporations an incentive to create jobs in the United States but this trickle down effect but the gradual approach which McCain offers won't help the laid-off workers now.

McCain says these tax cuts will bring jobs back. Higher taxes discourage corporations from setting up shot here. Perhaps, but there is a question as to whether we can ever bring those jobs back (and this is the problem with Obama's job creation tax cut as well) when these businesses can rely upon workers who aren't paid the minimum wage and where they may cut some corners on environmental regulations.

Obama's Alternative Energy Plan is Far More Ambitious and Relies Upon Renewable Energy; McCain Relies too Much on Gas and Nuclear Power

On energy, Senator Obama offers the far more ambitious agenda on finding new sources of energy. While both, McCain and Obama would establish a cap-and-trade system whereby businesses get to buy and sell pollution permits, Obama would set up an auction whereby businesses purchase their allowances, bringing the government revenue it could then use to invest in green job-creating development projects – clean coal technology, facility green house maintenance improvement funding that would be dispersed by the states, and the commercialization of hybrids.

This investment project bridges a divide that once existed between the unions, who care about jobs, and the environmentalists who care about protecting the earth. Obama, in essence, is promising a new public works project, like President Franklin Roosevelt did during the Great Depression, building a new eco-friendly national infrastructure while providing the jobs we so desperately need at this time.

McCain has invested too much of his time calling for oil drilling, which can at best be viewed of as a short-term fix (if that at all, given that the oil which is found would go into the market for India and China to buy as well). He says we need to build 45 new nuclear power plants.

The Political Heretic is not as dismissive towards this investment as Senator Obama seems to be, but there are questions which McCain needs to answer. Many Americans don't want a nuclear power plant near their community since they don't want to be in the front of the line if and when there is a radiation leak. The waste would have to be disposed and there, again, we can see a feud among the communities as to where it goes. Nevada residents for example, generally opposed the Bush administration's efforts to dispose of some nuclear waste near Yucca Mountain. Given the exorbitant cost, and questions relating to the disposal of nuclear waste, we might want to invest in nuclear energy on a smaller-scaled operation.

Obama's Health Insurance Plan Covers More People While Aiming to Bring Down Costs

Obama offers the health insurance plan that builds upon the current system. Working Americans may keep their employer-covered health insurance plan but he would provide small businesses with a health insurance tax credit and establish a new public program to provide coverage to those not covered by their employees. Unlike McCain, Obama would mandate health insurance coverage for children (this is a no-brainer). Obama would create a National Exchange Commission which would function as a watch-dog group that compares and contrasts private health insurance plans so that consumers can make an informed decision before picking a plan, and regulate premium increases. He would create a public health insurance program that people could buy into but those who like their current plan would be allowed to keep it. Obama does not mandate health insurance for adults. He figures they would purchase insurance if it was made more affordable.

McCain would offer a $2,500 tax credit for singles and $5,000 for families to purchase health insurance, which is a drop in the bucket, when, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average premium for a single worker in 2007 was $4,4479 and for a family, $12,106. His proposal to end the tax deduction for employer-provided health coverage may encourage businesses to either end or cut back on the health benefits they provide to their employers.

Obama's Judicial Picks Would, in all likelihood, uphold Privacy and Habeas Corpus Rights

One overlooked issue that we must consider is the president’s role in nominating Supreme Court justices to the Supreme Court and federal judges to the lower courts. These people set the ground rules we all have to live by. In recent years it heard challenges to the president’s war detention policies, privacy rights, and employer discrimination cases that in some cases were decided by one-vote majorities. It narrowly upheld a late-term abortion ban with a five-to-four decision and granted trial courts the right to hear habeas corpus challenges from those prisoners now held at Guantanamo Bay. Bush appointees John Roberts and Samuel A. Alito have consistently voted with the government on these cases. They apparently have no problem granting the state the right to hold an individual hostage against his or her will for allegations which it need not prove.

The privacy rights of our citizens hang in the balance as well. We know of two justices on the Supreme Court who would like to repeal Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas (Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas), two who are suspected of leaning that way (Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.) and five justices who would uphold the privacy rights of gay Americans and women who want to the right to choose for herself whether or not she should have an abortion (Justices Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Stephen Breyer, John Paul Stevens, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg).

Three of those justices - Stevens, Ginsberg, and Kennedy –will probably retire sometime during the next president’s term in office. Senator McCain said he would nominate “strict constructionists” to replace them, thereby altering the balance of power between the conservative and liberal blocs and putting our privacy rights in jeopardy. Obama said he would nominate justices of a more liberal persuasion, justices who in all likelihood would uphold our right to abortion rights and private sexual intimacy.

Some Obvious Reservations - Immigration Reform, Partisan Liberal Record

The Political Heretic obviously has some reservations about a potential Obama administration. In all likelihood Senator Obama will be aided by a Democratically-controlled Congress that would be just as reluctant as the Republican-controlled Congress was in questioning President George W. Bush's priorities. Obama has voted with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party at a time when this country needs a centrist.

He has not distanced himself, in the Political Heretic's view, from the teacher unions, which have largely served as a hindrance to needed educational reform with their opposition to school vouchers, merit pay, removing poor children, and their tepid support for charter schools.

Like McCain, Obama supported the "misnamed" "comprehensive immigration reform package that gave illegal immigrants an undeserved "path to citizenship" while doing not nearly enough to stop the wave of illegal immigrants coming into the country.
McCain however, is no better.

The Political Heretic, though sees a lot of potential in Obama and strongly urges his readers to vote for him in November.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Catholic priest comes out, speaks out against an anti-gay marriage amendment and then is removed from the church. Not surprising but unfortunate:

"Steinbock wrote in a disciplinary letter that also admonished Farrow against "using the Internet as a means of continuing your conflict with the Church's teaching."

The priest also was stripped of his salary and benefits, and ordered to stay away from all church communities he had served."

He brought "scandal" to his parish and the church as a whole. Now he is an exile in a church that does not want him. He must not go near the communities he once served. No one can go near him. Or look at him for he was banished into exile. He must not speak. No one can listen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Debate Quick Reaction

Senator John McCain needed a major game-changer in tonight's debate. McCain started out strong, holding his own on the economy. He spouted traditionally Republican talking points - tax cuts and smaller government - though his belief that middle class voters agree with that list of priorities is questionable. Most voters probably believe we need more, not less, regulation on Wall Street. Obama, however, did not bring that point up.

Obama missed another opportunity to discredit the Republican nominee's argument. McCain called for a spending freeze. McCain could not build 45 nuclear power plants with that spending freeze. McCain could not invest in new green jobs (something he too, supports) with that spending freeze. McCain could not buy off from the banks the bad mortgages if there was a spending freeze. McCain could not "win" the war in Iraq if there is a spending freeze and McCain could not follow Osama bin Laden to "the gates of hell" if there is a spending freeze. Obama did not press back on these points (perhaps he doesn't want to talk about Iraq or the war on terror in general but he could have focused on McCain's mortgage bailout or the nuclear power plants). Then again, Bob Schieffer did not call him out on it either.

On taxes, Obama however, held his own. Republicans generally score well on tax cuts and many Joe "the plummer"[s] like it. One need only look at lines seen on CNN while the two were focusing on tax cuts. Nevertheless, Obama reminded voters that he is promising tax cuts, not tax hikes, for most Americans.

I'd score the economic portion of the debate as a fairly close and disputable win for McCain if only because Obama did not discredit McCain's argument as I suggested above. Maybe he was tired or worried. He didn't look at McCain as much as he did in the other debates. He seemed to doodle a little with his face down, and at other times well, he just looked impatient or tired.

Obama, however, clearly got the better of the argument on the Ayers controversy. Maybe he was injected with a shot of caffeine. He was on his game. He knew he was in the right and McCain had nowhere to go. McCain prefaced his own remarks with a denial of any association with the accusations, thereby undercutting his own argument that we should care about it. How McCain expected anyone should look into Obama's association with a former terrorist when he himself says he doesn't care about it is anyone's guess.

Credit Keith Olbermann for noting McCain's stupid remarks concerning "spreading the wealth around." Obama's team should include McCain's remarks in a commercial that should air on cable and broadcast for the next 19 days.


Some other reactions -

First, the conservative side -

"Crunchy Con" Rod Dreher at BeliefNet thinks the Republicans should give up on McCain and fight for their embattled senators.

"It's strange: it's been my sense that the one thing McCain has going for him is that as frightening as the world situation is right now, voters would want to have a solid, experienced hand at the wheel through the tempest. Watching tonight's event, it's undeniable that if that's what you're voting on, you'll want to vote for Barack Obama.

As most Americans surely will. After tonight, McCain is done. The RNC ought to pull money from McCain and use it to save as many imperiled senators as they can."

Full disclosure - Rod Dreher may vote for McCain but said he might sit this election out.

Ross Douthat isn't taking a position as to who won but was impressed with McCain's "Joe the Plumber" anecdote. I share his sentiments concerning the slogans:

I will die a happy man if I never hear the buzzwords of this debating season again. Energy independence ... spending freeze ... a scalpel ... a hatchet ... when George Bush came into office ... countries that don't like us very much ... I will cut taxes for ninety-five percent ...offshore drilling ... small business ... tax breaks for oil companies ...without preconditions ... what's that fine gonna be? ... families making less than $42,000 a year ... same failed policies ... When John McCain castigated Obama for declining his invitation to do town-hall debates, and remarked that "we could have had ten of them already," I suddenly had an image of thousands of political junkies going mad from the repetition and Van Goghing their ears somewhere around debate number seven.

Larry Kudlow
at The Corner thinks McCain did good on some issues but failed to connect corporate tax cuts with middle class tax cuts.

Mark Steyn at The Corner also gives him a passing grade:

"McCain was not great tonight, but he was good. And, if this had been the first debate, it would have been a great base on which to build through the second and third. I especially liked it when he drew attention to Obama's linguistic evasions - his commitment to "look into" offshore drilling, which is pol-talk for "never gonna happen". The Democrat nominee is very good at this - his mildly irksome linguistic tic, "Look - here's the thing", sounds like a declaration of "straight talk", while invariably prefacing some evasion or obfuscation."

The Obama-leaning Chris Crain gives it to Senator John McCain.

Now for the liberals:

Ezra Klein The American Prospect said Obama looked more presidential.

"Debate over. McCain scored the most points, and lost the debate. He was looking to land shots, and often succeeded. But the effort to find openings and vulnerabilities left him with little time to appear presidential. And if he connected with jabs, he never found his knockout blow. Worse, the attacks came at a cost: The angry energy showed on McCain's face as clearly as in his answers. CNN, at least, had the split screen, and McCain was grimacing, twitching, blinking, sighing, smirking, eye-rolling. Scores of YouTubers are, as we speak, constructing videos that will be nothing but a three minute collection of McCain's angry tics. They will make Gore's affectations in 2000 look mild. He looked like nothing so much as a man enduring acute gastrointestinal discomfort.

Obama, for his part, performed well on the substance and seemed less certain on the process. His answer on abortion, health care, and education were crisp and clear. His responses to McCain's more personal attacks were studiedly boring. He didn't look for the counterpunch, but for the clinch. The campaign clearly made a decision: Don't attack. Leave McCain to throw punches on his own. Look like a president, not a candidate. And he almost succeeded. I wouldn't say Obama had his best debate tonight, but then, he didn't need it. He just needed to avoid anything that would interrupt the current dynamics of the campaign, and he succeeded."

Mickey Kaus thinks Senator McCain did well but missed his opportunity to challenge Obama on his experience:

Josh Marshall of "Talking Points Memo" thinks McCain was too angry and he didn't do enough to link it to Joe Plumber's suffering. His observations concerning Obama have of course, been noted in my own comments above:

"Obama wasn't perfect. Maybe a bit off his game. But I don't think John McCain helped himself. His gambit in this debate was to say to voters that his anger and passion was theirs. But I don't think he sold that argument. John McCain is just angry. Mainly angry that it's his moment and this upstart named Barack Obama is taking it from him. That's about him, not anyone else."

At "Daily Kos", John Tapper says McCain was at his worst and Obama at his best (somehow I think this might be attributed to confusion).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Conservative Won't Say Who She is Supporting

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker wouldn't tell Steven Colbert who she is supporting in the presidential election. Whether she is going to vote for Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois), a third party candidate or not at all, one thing can be said - she obviously does not like McCain enough to withstand the boos of overwhelmingly liberal crowd that listens to the Colbert Report.

Maybe Sarah Palin did it for her. Maybe she vote put someone who is so under-qualified a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fleeing the US

Fleeing for the Cayman Islands is a bit of a retreat to the womb for despondent Americans; the three tiny Caribbean islands are a British territory still highly dependent on the crown. This is the destination for wealthy, free-market conservatives looking to wait out Democratic reign in Washington. Because there is no direct taxation, the islands are a hub for offshore banking and other financial services.

A few more Americans on the island wouldn't feel conspicuous: The permanent population is naturally diverse, including a 20 percent expatriate population. Rich Republicans who can afford the move won't feel far from home while waiting out the Obama administration.

Corporate Republicans haven't relocated here yet? - Chris Wilson

Gee. Wilson think McCain is going to lose.

Hitchens - Goes to Obama

Christopher Hitchens supported the war in Iraq and does not believe we can withdraw from it anytime soon but he is going to put his differences to the side and vote for Senator Barack Obama in order to vote against his Republican rival, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and his utterly incompetent, uninformed and pathetic excuse for a running mate:

"I used to call myself a single-issue voter on the essential question of defending civilization against its terrorist enemies and their totalitarian protectors, and on that "issue" I hope I can continue to expose and oppose any ambiguity. Obama is greatly overrated in my opinion, but the Obama-Biden ticket is not a capitulationist one, even if it does accept the support of the surrender faction, and it does show some signs of being able and willing to profit from experience. With McCain, the "experience" is subject to sharply diminishing returns, as is the rest of him, and with Palin the very word itself is a sick joke. One only wishes that the election could be over now and a proper and dignified verdict rendered, so as to spare democracy and civility the degradation to which they look like being subjected in the remaining days of a low, dishonest campaign."

Friday, October 10, 2008

I haven't read the report yet, but MSNBC may be digging the grave for Governor Sarah Palin too quickly. This report may hurt her but then again it might be used to rally the conservatives around here. Yes, this report was written and signed onto by both, Republicans and Democrats but so what?

Governor Palin introduced herself to the voters as a maverick who ran against the establishment, the "good ol[d] boy network." She ran against the incumbent governor of the same party in the state primary.

Also, remember. the liberal base rallied around former President Bill Clinton when he was caught lying about his sexual affairs in a court of law under oath. The House Republicans impeached him for perjury and obstruction of justice but the Clinton defense team astutely turned the legal issue into a cultural issue. He was, they noted, lying about sex, something most would to keep behind closed doors.

Palin's base, no less than Clinton's might choose to ignore the substance behind the charges if the McCain/Palin campaign focused on the reason behind her attempt to fire the public safety commissioner,Walt Monegan. Conservatives may overlook these charges if she diverts their attention away from the legal aspects of the case and on to the messy divorce that led her to press for state trooper Mike Wooten's job (he was married to her sister).

Should the public overlook these charges? No. Will they? I don't know, but given what we've seen when Clinton was charged with "high crimes and misdemeanors" (or perhaps more accurately low crimes and misdemeanors) their judgment is not reassuring.

Gay Marriage Backlash

Couldn't the Court wait until November passes? As it is the fight against the marriage amendments forbidding gays from marrying in California, Arizona (and the far more draconian anti-union) Florida bill are close to passage. The timing couldn't be any worse. Normally I would be inwardly cheering such a decision even if there were some doubts as to whether it was the best approach. Today I definitely am not cheering. This probably sealed the deal for the anti-gay folks in California.

Advice to McCain

Read this from Ross Douthat. Keith Olbermann and Senator Barack Obama's criticisms notwithstanding there are a lot of American people worried about losing their homes. It may not be fiscally responsible but when people are losing their retirement accounts, facing hire gas prices and heating costs, and struggling to pay the mortgage, many people just won't care if it is fiscally responsible.
But over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.

Over the past 15 years, the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts.

What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole. The liberals had coastal condescension, so the conservatives developed their own anti-elitism, with mirror-image categories and mirror-image resentments, but with the same corrosive effect.

Republicans developed their own leadership style. If Democratic leaders prized deliberation and self-examination, then Republicans would govern from the gut.

conservative columnist David Brooks on the dumbing down of the Republican Party

The conservative intelligentsia still exists. They write for The Weekly Standard, The American Conservative, The National Review, and newspapers across the nation, but the base which the Republican Party relies upon to get out the vote, while frighteningly strong in numbers, is very weak intellectually and the candidates who try to rally this base run campaigns against science, diversity, and academia.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Brief Thoughts

Senator Barack Obama won. He was in command of his facts, addressing McCain's points one by one. He countered Senator McCain's ode to "speaking softly while carrying a big stick" by reminding the audience of Senator John McCain's "bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran" joke. McCain appeared condescending - he referred to Senator Barack Obama as "that one" at one point and inferred that one of the questioners, an African American no less, may "never have heard of Faninie Mae and Freddie Mac. He joked at the most inopportune and inappropriate times. When he was asked who he would appoint as his Secretary of the Treasury he nastily told the moderator that he would not be appointed. Whatever gravitas McCain has was not on display. Obama was calm, paying attention, and most important, made no jokes.

Neither candidate really had an answer for how to turn this economy around. McCain proposed a new multi-billion dollar bail-out to buy off bad mortgages and re-sell them to the homeowners at more affordable rates so they could keep their homes, a proposal that may win him some votes in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, but also said we may see cuts in social security and medicare. Obama regurgitated his main talking points. The older voters in those states may find that quite disturbing.

Overall, though, Obama was more right than McCain was and I think the public largely agrees with Obama's list of priorities: tax cuts for the middle class, regulations on Wall Street, firing the AIG CEO's who spent $450,000 on a week-long stay at a luxury hotel in California

Obama appeared weak on the question of how the United States would respond if Iran attacked Israel because he would not commit to Israel's defense. Florida's Jewish voters will find his answer quite disturbing as well. Their answers on Georgia - a wash - since Obama has unwisely moved in McCain's direction. Iraq? Score it for Obama. Pakistan? Another one for Obama.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Don't Go Negative

Senator John McCain (R-Alaska) may go negative and link his rival for the presidency, Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) to Bill Ayers, a founding member of the now-defunct Weather Underground, a communist-leaning organization that was founded in 1969 with the intent of using violence to overthrow the government to end the Vietnam War. It staged a series of unsuccessful riots in Chicago.

While on the campaign stump, the Republican senator's running mate, Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) said Barack Obama associates with terrorists." 'He didn't know that he had launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist?' the governor rhetorically asked a crowd of 8,000 in Estero, Florida.

Senator Barack Obama, however, was merely eight years old when the radical communist was plotting to overthrow the government. Today, Ayers serves as a professor at the University of Illinois. According to this New York Times article published on Saturday, the former bomber and two Chicago activists successfully fought for a piece of the $500 million offered by billionaire Walter H. Annenberg. Joyce Foundation president Deborah Leff recruitted Senator Obama to serve as the chairman of the six-member board charged with distributing Chicago's Annenberg funds to the schools. Ayers and Obama attended five board meetings. The two also served on the board for the Woods Fund, a charity located in Chicago.

Obama's dealings with Ayers, in sum were limited to their mutual concern for education and charity projects in Chicago. Obama was not and still is not a member of a radical fringe group. There is no evidence linking Obama to Ayers' radical thinking so Palin's attempts to smear him should be repudiated.

McCain promised to run an honorable campaign devoted to the issues. He would challenge Obama's big spending projects and global priorities while touting his national security credentials and his willingness to work across the aisle. To date we have seen the senator run a largely unfocused and erratic campaign.

To date the senator has not fulfilled that promise. He has spoken up for reform and "accountability" in vague terms. He has not offered the American public with an economic plan to put to rest doubts concerning the economy. Now he is shifting the focus of the race back to Obama's associations with those whom many voters in the heartland would consider un-American. While Senator Obama's choice of un-American friends can seem baffling to many American voters, it should not distract us from the economic crisis we are now in. Obama's own temperament and views do not align with those of his former pastor (Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr. of Trinity United Church in Chicago] or the Weather Underground terrorist.

McCain should do the American public a favor and spare us from this politics of distraction and provide the American public with his plan to get us out of this debacle.

Palin at the VP Debate: Some Conservatives Still Aren't Impressed

BROKAW: "Peggy, let’s begin with you. You said on NBC the other night, when you were looking at the vice presidential debate, Sarah Palin “killed,” to use that showbiz phrase. And then you wrote, “As far as Mrs. Palin was concerned, Gwen Ifill was not there, and Joe Biden was not there. Sarah and the camera were there. This was classic ‘talk over the heads of the media straight to the people,’ and it is a long time since I’ve seen it done so well, though so transparently. There were moments when she seemed to be doing an infomercial pitch for charm in politics. But it was an effective infomercial.

An effective infomercial for Governor Palin or for the ticket? And did she convince the American people she’s qualified to be a heartbeat away?”

NOONAN: "I—I’ll be frank. She convinced the American people that though they had seen her crater in interview after interview in the previous few weeks before that debate, that she was capable of coming forward and simply debating, simply going forth on her own. I think she showed that she is a woman of a great and natural competence about the show business of politics, if you will, the ability to look over the camera, to think that the camera is your friend. All of that stuff. There are questions about other areas."

"Show business"

"Shockingly, Sarah Palin didn't lose this thing. She came across as energetic and spirited, if annoyingly chirpy and colloquial at times. I thought Biden was much better on substance, but Palin was a far, far cry from the Quayling goof of her network interviews. No moose-in-the-headlights moments for her tonight. That sound you hear now is the sound of every Republican in America breathing a sigh of relief." - Rod Dreher

But there is no mass exodus.

Rich Lowry fell in love with the cheerleader.

"A very wise TV executive once told me that the key to TV is projecting through the screen. It's one of the keys to the success of, say, a Bill O'Reilly, who comes through the screen and grabs you by the throat. Palin too projects through the screen like crazy. I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can't be learned; it's either something you have or you don't, and man, she's got it."


Monday, October 06, 2008

Conservative Rod Dreher Says :Focus on the Radicals Highlights Intellectually Bankrupt McCain Campaign

"All along I have believed, and have said in this space, that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright matters. As far as we can tell, no single person had a greater influence on Barack Obama's thinking than did the radical, race-baiting Wright. To a far lesser but still significant degree, the unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers matters; as someone brought up the other day, if John McCain's political career had been launched in the home of an abortion clinic bomber who was not sorry he did it, there's no question but that the media would have made a huge deal about it.

Stanley Kurtz wrote an excellent piece about what Obama's association with both men and their milieu reveals about the man who would be president. In short, it reveals that Obama is a by-the-books leftist who is rather comfortable moving among people who strike most Americans as radical. I anticipated that the Wright-Ayers stuff would be a significant part of this fall's election. I am troubled by what Obama's connection to these men says about the kind of man he is, and the way he would govern.

And yet, this week, with the economy in free fall -- the Down's down over 500 points as I write this -- and the economic crisis threatening to bring down the entire global finance system, and with McCain and Palin having run a crap campaign to this point ... well, I confess that I don't care much about Wright and Ayers at this point. If McCain and Palin are going to try to make this campaign about one or both of those fools, with the massive crisis now before us, a crisis unprecedented in the lifetimes of most Americans -- well, they deserve to lose, and lose badly. If banging on Wright and Ayers is the best conservatism has to Rodoffer at this critical moment, then it truly is intellectually bankrupt." Rod Dreher on his blog.

He's not alone. On "Meet The Press" this Sunday, conservative writer Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal said we need to focus on a way out of this financial mess:

"You know what, this has been a long campaign. We are in the last month. It is still close. Whoever’s rising or, or, or falling, it’s really close. And some part of me fears they’re going to open up the gates of hell on this one. It seems to me there is trench warfare out there. The left—there’s a huge middle in America, but there’s a left. They think they’re going to win, and they’re getting meaner than ever. The right fears they’re going to lose, they’re getting meaner than ever. I would hate to see this descend into this, this—“I’ll kill—I’ll tear your throat out” kind of stuff. I think that would be harmful. I think we are at a unique and dangerous...

... Can I make a point, also, that I think part of the reason this is going to get so rough in the next month, trying to get my, my hands around this thing, is that we live in the age of political strategists. We live in the age of the guys on the plane. We live in the age of the BlackBerry guys saying, “Let’s get them this way. Let’s get them this way.” It exists on both campaigns, the instinct, “Hey, we have nothing to do now but go to, to the jugular.” I have the sense sometimes lately that these guys on the plane think history is their plaything. History is not their plaything. This is big. This is a nation having two ground wars and an economic recession—we hope just a mild recession. This is not a time for playfulness and mischief. It ain’t right."
- Peggy Noonan on "Meet The Press"

Alternative View on the Economy

The real roots of the crisis lie in a flawed response to China. Starting in the 1990s, the flood of cheap products from China kept global inflation low, allowing central banks to operate relatively loose monetary policies. But the flip side of China's export surplus was that China had a capital surplus, too. Chinese savings sloshed into asset markets 'round the world, driving up the price of everything from Florida condos to Latin American stocks. - Sebastian Mallaby's theory on the financial meltdown.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Standardized Voting Standards

It seems as if Alabama has to offer its counties a standardized list of crimes of "moral turpitude" before the election so we know who can and cannot vote. I don't see why a burglar in one county should have the right to vote that a burglar or maybe even a robber in another county does not. Why should the latter theoretically have a say in who Alabama gives its electoral votes to when the former does not?

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Debate

Question 1: The Bail Out Deal

Gwen Ifill: The House of Representatives this week passed a bill, a big bailout bill -- or didn't pass it, I should say. The Senate decided to pass it, and the House is wrestling with it still tonight.

As America watches these things happen on Capitol Hill, Senator Biden, was this the worst of Washington or the best of Washington that we saw play out?

[Comment: Is this a process or policy question which she is expecting the candidates to answer? Are they supposed to take a stand on the bailout deal or a process concerning the negotiating process in the senate?]

Answer from Senator Joe Biden:

I think it's neither the best or worst of Washington
, [okay, the question was answered]but it's evidence of the fact that the economic policies of the last eight years have been the worst economic policies we've ever had. As a consequence, you've seen what's happened on Wall Street.

If you need any more proof positive of how bad the economic theories have been, this excessive deregulation, the failure to oversee what was going on, letting Wall Street run wild, I don't think you needed any more evidence than what you see now.

[Good. Senator Biden is doing what is expected - hitting the Republicans where it hurts. Indict the Republicans for espousing a relatively unregulated market economic system that is failing middle class America.]

So the Congress has been put -- Democrats and Republicans have been put in a very difficult spot. But Barack Obama laid out four basic criteria for any kind of rescue plan here.

[Well, I'll credit Biden for changing the subject. He was asked about the compromise and here the senator is about to recite Obama's talking points.]

He, first of all, said there has to be oversight. We're not going to write any check to anybody unless there's oversight for the -- of the secretary of Treasury.

He secondly said you have to focus on homeowners and folks on Main Street.

Thirdly, he said that you have to treat the taxpayers like investors in this case.

And, lastly, what you have to do is make sure that CEOs don't benefit from this, because this could end up, in the long run, people making money off of this rescue plan.

And so, as a consequence of that, it brings us back to maybe the fundamental disagreement between Governor Palin and me and Senator McCain and Barack Obama, and that is that the -- we're going to fundamentally change the focus of the economic policy.

We're going to focus on the middle class, because it's -- when the middle class is growing, the economy grows and everybody does well, not just focus on the wealthy and corporate America.

IFILL: Thank you, Senator.

Governor Palin?

PALIN: Thank you, Gwen. And I thank the commission, also. I appreciate this privilege of being able to be here and speak with Americans.

You know, I think a good barometer here, as we try to figure out has this been a good time or a bad time in America's economy
, [no the question specifically refers to the bailout agreement and not the economy] is go to a kid's soccer game on Saturday, and turn to any parent there on the sideline and ask them, "How are you feeling about the economy?"

And I'll bet you, you're going to hear some fear in that parent's voice, fear regarding the few investments that some of us have in the stock market. Did we just take a major hit with those investments?

Fear about, how are we going to afford to send our kids to college? A fear, as small-business owners, perhaps, how we're going to borrow any money to increase inventory or hire more people.

The barometer there, I think, is going to be resounding that our economy is hurting and the federal government has not provided the sound oversight that we need and that we deserve, and we need reform to that end.

[Palin said nothing about the bailout deal which the House will vote on today but she is telling "joe sixpack" that she feels their pain. Will they buy it? I don't know.]

Now, John McCain thankfully has been one representing reform. Two years ago, remember, it was John McCain who pushed so hard with the Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) reform measures. He sounded that warning bell.

Okay. Give McCain credit for sounding the "warning bell" though how strongly he pushed for it is still up in the air.

People in the Senate with him, his colleagues, didn't want to listen to him and wouldn't go towards that reform that was needed then. I think that the alarm has been heard, though, and there will be that greater oversight, again thanks to John McCain's bipartisan efforts that he was so instrumental in bringing folks together over this past week, even suspending his own campaign to make sure he was putting excessive politics aside and putting the country first.

Question 2: A Bipartisan Vice President: Approach

IFILL: You both would like to be vice president.

Senator Biden, how, as vice president, would you work to shrink this gap of polarization which has sprung up in Washington, which you both have spoken about here tonight?

BIDEN: Well, that's what I've done my whole career, Gwen, on very, very controversial issues, from dealing with violence against women [not very controversial], to putting 100,000 police officers on the street, [definitely not controversial] to trying to get something done about the genocide in -- that was going on in Bosnia [okay this was controversial].

And I -- I have been able to reach across the aisle. I think it's fair to say that I have almost as many friends on the Republican side of the aisle as I do the Democratic side of the aisle.

But am I able to respond to -- are we able to stay on the -- on the topic?

IFILL: You may, if you like.

BIDEN: Yes, well, you know, until two weeks ago -- it was two Mondays ago John McCain said at 9 o'clock in the morning that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. Two weeks before that, he said George -- we've made great economic progress under George Bush's policies.

Nine o'clock, the economy was strong. Eleven o'clock that same day, two Mondays ago, John McCain said that we have an economic crisis.

That doesn't make John McCain a bad guy, but it does point out he's out of touch. Those folks on the sidelines knew that two months ago.

Comment: Right. Make McCain pay for supporting the laissez-faire economic philosophy that now appears to be in disrepute.

IFILL: Governor Palin, you may respond.

PALIN: John McCain, in referring to the fundamental of our economy being strong, he was talking to and he was talking about the American workforce. [not at first though a revision was made on the same day] And the American workforce is the greatest in this world, with the ingenuity and the work ethic that is just entrenched in our workforce. That's a positive. That's encouragement. And that's what John McCain meant.

Now, what I've done as a governor and as a mayor is (inaudible) I've had that track record of reform. And I've joined this team that is a team of mavericks with John McCain, [is this a Batman and Catwoman action movie?]also, with his track record of reform, where we're known for putting partisan politics aside to just get the job done.

[okay so we have the claim. Nice pivot but where's the beef?]

Now, Barack Obama, of course, he's pretty much only voted along his party lines. In fact, 96 percent of his votes have been solely along party line, not having that proof for the American people to know that his commitment, too, is, you know, put the partisanship, put the special interests aside, and get down to getting business done for the people of America.

[Fair point though she is not addressing the fundamental issue which is the economy.]

We're tired of the old politics as usual. And that's why, with all due respect, I do respect your years in the U.S. Senate [good dig though the same question can be put to McCain], but I think Americans are craving something new and different and that new energy and that new commitment that's going to come with reform.

I think that's why we need to send the maverick from the Senate and put him in the White House, and I'm happy to join him there.

IFILL: Governor, Senator, neither of you really answered that last question about what you would do as vice president. I'm going to come back to that...


... throughout the evening to try to see if we can look forward, as well.

[Comment: Thank you for calling them out on it.]

Question 3: Blame for the Subprime Lending Meltdown

Now, let's talk about -- the next question is to talk about the subprime lending meltdown.

Who do you think was at fault? I start with you, Governor Palin. Was it the greedy lenders? Was it the risky home-buyers who shouldn't have been buying a home in the first place? And what should you be doing about it?

PALIN: Darn right it was the predator lenders [this is going to be one hell of a long night for Biden. She's connecting with that folksy but emphatic and forceful answer. I'm sure of it.], who tried to talk Americans into thinking that it was smart to buy a $300,000 house if we could only afford a $100,000 house. There was deception there, and there was greed and there is corruption on Wall Street. And we need to stop that.

Again, John McCain and I, that commitment that we have made, and we're going to follow through on that, getting rid of that corruption.

PALIN: One thing that Americans do at this time, also, though, is let's commit ourselves just every day American people, Joe Six Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say never again. Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars. [definitely a long night for Biden. The resolve on display. the anger. she's winning points on style even though she is saying nothing of consequence.] We need to make sure that we demand from the federal government strict oversight of those entities in charge of our investments and our savings and we need also to not get ourselves in debt. [good, all four candidates are on board]. Let's do what our parents told us before we probably even got that first credit card. Don't live outside of our means. We need to make sure that as individuals we're taking personal responsibility through all of this. It's not the American peoples fault that the economy is hurting like it is, but we have an opportunity to learn a heck of a lot of good lessons through this and say never again will we be taken advantage of.

IFILL: Senator?

BIDEN: Well Gwen, two years ago Barack Obama warned about the sub prime mortgage crisis. John McCain said shortly after that in December he was surprised there was a sub prime mortgage problem. John McCain while Barack Obama was warning about what we had to do was literally giving an interview to "The Wall Street Journal" saying that I'm always for cutting regulations. We let Wall Street run wild. John McCain and he's a good man, but John McCain thought the answer is that tried and true Republican response, deregulate, deregulate.

[Hitting McCain and the Republicans make sense but I don't sense he is tapping into that anger like Palin is doing. Biden doesn't do demagoguery well and this just doesn't sound forceful enough. He needed to come out and blame the Bush administration, the Republicans, or the conservative principles for this crisis, and use their support for deregulation to back it up.]

So what you had is you had overwhelming "deregulation." You had actually the belief that Wall Street could self-regulate itself. And while Barack Obama was talking about reinstating those regulations, John on 20 different occasions in the previous year and a half called for more deregulation. As a matter of fact, John recently wrote an article in a major magazine saying that he wants to do for the health care industry deregulate it and let the free market move like he did for the banking industry.

So deregulation was the promise. And guess what? Those people who say don't go into debt, they can barely pay to fill up their gas tank. I was recently at my local gas station and asked a guy named Joey Danco (ph). I said Joey, how much did it cost to fill your tank? You know what his answer was? He said I don't know, Joe. I never have enough money to do it. The middle class needs relief, tax relief. They need it now. They need help now. The focus will change with Barack Obama.

Question 4: Offering a Chance to Defend McCain's Health Care Plan

IFILL: Governor, please if you want to respond to what he said about Senator McCain's comments about health care?

PALIN: I would like to respond about the tax increases. We can speak in agreement here that darn right [okay, the more this phrase is repeated the less effective it will be. Move on.] we need tax relief for Americans so that jobs can be created here. Now, Barack Obama and Senator Biden also voted for the largest tax increases in U.S. history. Barack had 94 opportunities to side on the people's side and reduce taxes and 94 times he voted to increase taxes or not support a tax reduction, 94 times.[94 times. FactChecker considers this misleading.]

Now, that's not what we need to create jobs and really bolster and heat up our economy. We do need the private sector to be able to keep more of what we earn and produce. Government is going to have to learn to be more efficient and live with less if that's what it takes to reign in the government growth that we've seen today. [so what would be cut?] But we do need tax relief and Barack Obama even supported increasing taxes as late as last year for those families making only $42,000 a year. That's a lot of middle income average American families to increase taxes on them. I think that is the way to kill jobs and to continue to harm our economy.

Comment: scroll 3/4 down the page to see this $42,000 claim refuted.

IFILL: Senator?

BIDEN: The charge is absolutely not true. Barack Obama did not vote to raise taxes. The vote she's referring to, John McCain voted the exact same way. It was a budget procedural vote. John McCain voted the same way. It did not raise taxes. Number two, using the standard that the governor uses, John McCain voted 477 times to raise taxes. It's a bogus standard it but if you notice, Gwen, the governor did not answer the question about deregulation, did not answer the question of defending John McCain about not going along with the deregulation, letting Wall Street run wild. He did support deregulation almost across the board. That's why we got into so much trouble.

[Comment: Actually she did not answer the question concerning health care, which was what she was asked to respond to.]

Question 5: Another Chance to Respond to Biden

IFILL: Would you like to have an opportunity to answer that before we move on?

PALIN: I'm still on the tax thing because I want to correct you on that again. And I want to let you know what I did as a mayor and as a governor. 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 [here again we see Palin taking charge, an assertive, I-know what is important and who I have to answer to, Palin. Here she is taking on the media. Once again she earns points for style.] As mayor, every year I was in office I did reduce taxes. I eliminated personal property taxes and eliminated small business inventory taxes and as governor we suspended our state fuel tax. [that she did but Palin only by preserving and then raising the sales tax and by floating bonds]
We did all of those things knowing that that is how our economy would be heated up. Now, as for John McCain's adherence to rules and regulations and pushing for even harder and tougher regulations, that is another thing that he is known for though. Look at the tobacco industry. Look at campaign finance reform. [Well yes, and regulating the abortion industry by voting pro-life. so what? What do the tobacco regulations and campaign finance legislation, which incidentally, McCain may be wiggling his way out of with some wins at the casinos, have to do with banking regulations?]

Question 6: Tax Cuts and Taxing Health Benefits

IFILL: OK, our time is up here. We've got to move to the next question. Senator Biden, we want to talk about taxes, let's talk about taxes. You proposed raising taxes on people who earn over $250,000 a year. The question for you is, why is that not class warfare and the same question for you, Governor Palin, is you have proposed a tax employer health benefits which some studies say would actually throw five million more people onto the roles of the uninsured. I want to know why that isn't taking things out on the poor, starting with you, Senator Biden.

BIDEN: Well Gwen, where I come from, it's called fairness, just simple fairness. [matching slogan with a slogan or principle with a principle. not bad on points in terms of style.] The middle class is struggling. The middle class under John McCain's tax proposal, 100 million families, middle class families, households to be precise, they got not a single change, they got not a single break in taxes. No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama's plan will see one single penny of their tax raised whether it's their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax. And 95 percent of the people in the United States of America making less than $150,000 will get a tax break.

Now, that seems to me to be simple fairness. The economic engine of America is middle class. It's the people listening to this broadcast. When you do well, America does well. Even the wealthy do well. This is not punitive. John wants to add $300 million, billion in new tax cuts per year for corporate America and the very wealthy while giving virtually nothing to the middle class. We have a different value set. The middle class is the economic engine. It's fair. They deserve the tax breaks, not the super wealthy who are doing pretty well. They don't need any more tax breaks. And by the way, they'll pay no more than they did under Ronald Reagan.

[on substance I see where he's going. Someone has to pay for the social net and the burden, in the Democrats' view, should fall on those who can afford to pay for it without losing their frills. still, too wordy.]
IFILL: Governor?

PALIN: I do take issue with some of the principle there with that redistribution of wealth principle that seems to be espoused by you. [wordy and incoherent] But when you talk about Barack's plan to tax increase affecting only those making $250,000 a year or more, you're forgetting millions of small businesses that are going to fit into that category. So they're going to be the ones paying higher taxes thus resulting in fewer jobs being created and less productivity.

Now you said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not patriotic.
[Low blow: Palin is unfairly taking Senator Biden's comment out of context since he was speaking of what the wealthier Americans should do; not what the middle class should do. Biden could say, in all fairness, that the wealthy would, for the good of the country, accept some of the financial burdens this country is facing with a tax increase.] Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In fact, too often you're the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper. [typical Republican principles but the fact remains that some people won't "grow and prosper" without the government.] An increased tax formula that Barack Obama is proposing in addition to nearly a trillion dollars in new spending that he's proposing is the backwards way of trying to grow our economy.

Question 7: Follow-up on Health Care Plan

IFILL: Governor, are you interested in defending Senator McCain's health care plan?

PALIN: I am because he's got a good health care plan that is detailed. And I want to give you a couple details on that. He's proposing a $5,000 tax credit for families so that they can get out there and they can purchase their own health care coverage. That's a smart thing to do. That's budget neutral. That doesn't cost the government anything as opposed to Barack Obama's plan to mandate health care coverage and have universal government run program and unless you're pleased with the way the federal government has been running anything lately, [definitely a good one-liner here. Can't trust Washington with the economy so why trust them with health care] I don't think that it's going to be real pleasing for Americans to consider health care being taken over by the feds. But a $5,000 health care credit through our income tax that's budget neutral. That's going to help. And he also wants to erase those artificial lines between states so that through competition, we can cross state lines and if there's a better plan offered somewhere else, we would be able to purchase that. So affordability and accessibility will be the keys there with that $5,000 tax credit also being offered.
[alliteration - easy to remember]

IFILL: Thank you, governor. Senator?

BIDEN: Gwen, I don't know where to start. We don't call a redistribution in my neighborhood Scranton, Claymont, Wilmington, the places I grew up, to give the fair to say that not giving Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) another $4 billion tax cut this year as John calls for and giving it to middle class people to be able to pay to get their kids to college, we don't call that redistribution. We call that fairness number one.[okay but what about the question Palin posed conderning government neutrality] Number two fact, 95 percent of the small businesses in America, their owners make less than $250,000 a year. They would not get one single solitary penny increase in taxes, those small businesses.
[Good. I agree. The oil companies don't need a tax cut. They are doing fine. Also like his counter-argument with respect to the small businesses.]

BIDEN: Now, with regard to the -- to the health care plan, you know, it's with one hand you giveth, the other you take it. You know how Barack Obama -- excuse me, do you know how John McCain pays for his $5,000 tax credit you're going to get, a family will get? [like the one-liner]

He taxes as income every one of you out there, every one of you listening who has a health care plan through your employer. That's how he raises $3.6 trillion, on your -- taxing your health care benefit to give you a $5,000 plan, which his Web site points out will go straight to the insurance company.

And then you're going to have to replace a $12,000 -- that's the average cost of the plan you get through your employer -- it costs $12,000. You're going to have to pay -- replace a $12,000 plan, because 20 million of you are going to be dropped. Twenty million of you will be dropped.

So you're going to have to place -- replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company. I call that the "Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere."
[a good one-liner Biden should use more often]

Question 7: Bailout - The Trade-Off for the Deal
IFILL: Thank you, Senator.



... I want to get -- try to get you both to answer a question that neither of your principals quite answered when my colleague, Jim Lehrer, asked it last week, starting with you, Senator Biden.

What promises -- given the events of the week, the bailout plan, all of this, what promises have you and your campaigns made to the American people that you're not going to be able to keep?

BIDEN: Well, the one thing we might have to slow down is a commitment we made to double foreign assistance. We'll probably have to slow that down. [a pittance of what the government spends]

We also are going to make sure that we do not go forward with the tax cut proposals of the administration -- of John McCain, the existing one for people making over $250,000, which is $130 billion this year alone. [no this was set aside to pay for Obama's health care plan; he is using what is already "spent" offsetting costs elsewhere]

We're not going to support the $300 billion tax cut that they have for corporate America and the very wealthy. We're not going to support another $4 billion tax cut for ExxonMobil.
[I agree but again this was already planned]

And what we're not going to also hold up on, Gwen, is we cannot afford to hold up on providing for incentives for new jobs by an energy policy, creating new jobs.

We cannot slow up on education, because that's the engine that is going to give us the economic growth and competitiveness that we need.

And we are not going to slow up on the whole idea of providing for affordable health care for Americans, none of which, when we get to talk about health care, is as my -- as the governor characterized -- characterized.

[here again we are being specifically told what won't be cut; not what would be.]

The bottom line here is that we are going to, in fact, eliminate those wasteful spending [what spending is "wasteful" in Biden's view?] that exist in the budget right now, a number of things I don't have time, because the light is blinking, that I won't be able to mention, but one of which is the $100 billion tax dodge that, in fact, allows people to take their post office box off- shore, avoid taxes.

I call that unpatriotic. I call that unpatriotic.
[Biden takes his phrase back and for good reason. Bringing jobs to the American people, siding with the American worker, sacrificing a little on the profit margin to help the country out is patriotic. Shipping jobs overseas to make a buck - not.]

IFILL: Governor?

BIDEN: That's what I'm talking about.

IFILL: Governor?

PALIN: Well, the nice thing about running with John McCain is I can assure you he doesn't tell one thing to one group and then turns around and tells something else to another group, including his plans that will make this bailout plan, this rescue plan, even better. [This had to be a dig at Obama for his speech at San Francisco but I don't see what this has to do with the question at hand.]

I want to go back to the energy plan, though, because this is -- this is an important one that Barack Obama, he voted for in '05. [I gather she doesn't want to refute Biden's point about taxes so by default he wins nor does she want to commit to any cuts in Senator McCain's budget - say for the seemingly endless commitment in Iraq or tax cuts that largely benefit the wealthy]

Senator Biden, you would remember that, in that energy plan that Obama voted for, that's what gave those oil companies those big tax breaks. Your running mate voted for that.

You know what I had to do in the state of Alaska? I had to take on those oil companies and tell them, "No," you know, any of the greed there that has been kind of instrumental, I guess, in their mode of operation, that wasn't going to happen in my state [well her approach hasn't gone too well as noted in the most recent Time Magazine.

And that's why Tillerson at Exxon and Mulva at ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) , bless their hearts, they're doing what they need to do, as corporate CEOs, but they're not my biggest fans, because what I had to do up there in Alaska was to break up a monopoly up there and say, you know, the people are going to come first and we're going to make sure that we have value given to the people of Alaska with those resources [the natural gas pipeline commitment may turn into a boondoggle].

And those huge tax breaks aren't coming to the big multinational corporations anymore, not when it adversely affects the people who live in a state and, in this case, in a country who should be benefiting at the same time. So it was Barack Obama who voted for that energy plan that gave those tax breaks to the oil companies that I then had to turn around, as a governor of an energy-producing state, and kind of undo in my own area of expertise, and that's energy.

Question 8: Follow Up on the Trade-Offs

IFILL: So, Governor, as vice president, there's nothing that you have promised as a candidate that you would -- that you wouldn't take off the table because of this financial crisis we're in?

PALIN: There is not. [figures. like Biden she won't commit to spending cuts] And how long have I been at this, like five weeks? So there hasn't been a whole lot that I've promised, except to do what is right for the American people, put government back on the side of the American people, stop the greed and corruption on Wall Street.

And the rescue plan has got to include that massive oversight [what is she, a high school cheerleader? The casual talk may help her connect with Joe Six-pack but it does not sound professional] that Americans are expecting and deserving. And I don't believe that John McCain has made any promise that he would not be able to keep, either [tax cuts on top of the war?].
[more generalities]

IFILL: Senator?

BIDEN: Again, let me -- let's talk about those tax breaks. Barack Obama -- Obama voted for an energy bill because, for the first time, it had real support for alternative energy. (OOTC:AEGC)[Plausible reason proffered. The bill appropriated funding for alternative energy research, and testing for hydrogen and fuel cells, imposed an increase in the use of renewable sources used in gasoline, etc.]

When there were separate votes on eliminating the tax breaks for the oil companies, Barack Obama voted to eliminate them. John did not.

And let me just ask a rhetorical question: If John really wanted to eliminate them, why is he adding to his budget an additional $4 billion in tax cuts for ExxonMobils of the world that, in fact, already have made $600 billion since 2001? [good point]

And, look, I agree with the governor. She imposed a windfall profits tax up there in Alaska. That's what Barack Obama and I want to do.

We want to be able to do for all of you Americans, give you back $1,000 bucks, like she's been able to give back money to her folks back there.

But John McCain will not support a windfall profits tax. They've made $600 billion since 2001, and John McCain wants to give them, all by itself -- separate, no additional bill, all by itself -- another $4 billion tax cut.

[Probably true in so far as how McCain probably would have voted by neither he nor Barack Obama voted for S 3044.]

If that is not proof of what I say, I'm not sure what can be. So I hope the governor is able to convince John McCain to support our windfall profits tax, which she supported in Alaska, and I give her credit for it.

Quesiton 9: Bankruptcy Bill Support

IFILL: Next question, Governor Palin, still on the economy. Last year, Congress passed a bill that would make it more difficult for debt-strapped mortgage-holders to declare bankruptcy, to get out from under that debt. This is something that John McCain supported. Would you have?

PALIN: Yes, I would have. But here, again, there have -- there have been so many changes in the conditions of our economy in just even these past weeks that there has been more and more revelation made aware now to Americans about the corruption and the greed on Wall Street.

We need to look back, even two years ago, and we need to be appreciative of John McCain's call for reform with Fannie Mae, with Freddie Mac, with the mortgage-lenders, too, who were starting to really kind of rear that head of abuse.

And the colleagues in the Senate weren't going to go there with him. So we have John McCain to thank for at least warning people. And we also have John McCain to thank for bringing in a bipartisan effort people to the table so that we can start putting politics aside, even putting a campaign aside, and just do what's right to fix this economic problem that we are in.

It is a crisis. It's a toxic mess, really, on Main Street that's affecting Wall Street. And now we have to be ever vigilant and also making sure that credit markets don't seize up. That's where the Main Streeters like me, that's where we would really feel the effects.

IFILL: Senator Biden, you voted for this bankruptcy bill. Senator Obama voted against it. Some people have said that mortgage- holders really paid the price.

BIDEN: Well, mortgage-holders didn't pay the price. Only 10 percent of the people who are -- have been affected by this whole switch from Chapter 7 to Chapter 13 -- it gets complicated.

But the point of this -- Barack Obama saw the glass as half- empty. I saw it as half-full. We disagreed on that, and 85 senators voted one way, and 15 voted the other way.
[agree to disagree reasoning employed but I don't see where he's going with this half-glass fool and half-glass empty thing. He is being way too vague]
But here's the deal. Barack Obama pointed out two years ago that there was a subprime mortgage crisis and wrote to the secretary of Treasury. And he said, "You'd better get on the stick here. You'd better look at it."

John McCain said as early as last December, quote -- I'm paraphrasing -- "I'm surprised about this subprime mortgage crisis," number one.

Number two, with regard to bankruptcy now, Gwen, what we should be doing now -- and Barack Obama and I support it -- we should be allowing bankruptcy courts to be able to re-adjust not just the interest rate you're paying on your mortgage to be able to stay in your home, but be able to adjust the principal that you owe, the principal that you owe.

That would keep people in their homes, actually help banks by keeping it from going under. But John McCain, as I understand it -- I'm not sure of this, but I believe John McCain and the governor don't support that. There are ways to help people now. And there -- ways that we're offering are not being supported by -- by the Bush administration nor do I believe by John McCain and Governor Palin.
[this is a popular move on his part because it is an appeal to those on Main Street]

IFILL: Governor Palin, is that so? [is what so Ifil? that McCain did not say what Biden said he did? why not ask her about the bankruptcy court proposal?]

PALIN: That is not so, but because that's just a quick answer, [and one not backed up with any evidence to refute Biden's assertions] I want to talk about, again, my record on energy versus your ticket's energy ticket, also.

I think that this is important to come back to, with that energy policy plan again that was voted for in '05.

When we talk about energy, we have to consider the need to do all that we can to allow this nation to become energy independent.

It's a nonsensical position that we are in when we have domestic supplies of energy all over this great land. And East Coast politicians [the "East Coast" reference - smart politically. turn into a cultural issue] who don't allow energy-producing states like Alaska to produce these, to tap into them, and instead we're relying on foreign countries to produce for us.

PALIN: We're circulating about $700 billion a year into foreign countries, some who do not like America -- they certainly don't have our best interests at heart -- instead of those dollars circulating here, creating tens of thousands of jobs and allowing domestic supplies of energy to be tapped into and start flowing into these very, very hungry markets. [right.]

Energy independence is the key to this nation's future, to our economic future, and to our national security. So when we talk about energy plans, it's not just about who got a tax break and who didn't. And we're not giving oil companies tax breaks, but it's about a heck of a lot more than that.

Energy independence is the key to America's future.
[just said that one paragraph ago.]

Question 10: Cause for Climate Change

IFILL: Governor, I'm happy to talk to you in this next section about energy issues. Let's talk about climate change. What is true and what is false about what we have heard, read, discussed, debated about the causes of climate change?

PALIN: Yes. Well, as the nation's only Arctic state and being the governor of that state, Alaska feels and sees impacts of climate change more so than any other state. And we know that it's real.

I'm not one to attribute every man -- activity of man to the changes in the climate.
[sounds too obvious for reading doesn't cause climate change]There is something to be said also for man's activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet.

But there are real changes going on in our climate. And 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?

We have got to clean up this planet.
[how and would not oil drilling harm the planet even more? It would be nice if Ifil followed up on this?] We have got to encourage other nations also to come along with us with the impacts of climate change, what we can do about that.

As governor, I was the first governor to form a climate change sub-cabinet to start dealing with the impacts. We've got to reduce emissions. John McCain is right there with an "all of the above" approach to deal with climate change impacts.

We've got to become energy independent for that reason.
[I hope she is not legitimizing oil drilling as a means to save the planet.] Also as we rely more and more on other countries that don't care as much about the climate as we do, we're allowing them to produce and to emit and even pollute more than America would ever stand for. So even in dealing with climate change, it's all the more reason that we have an "all of the above" approach,[oh my god she is making that case. Sorry. Burning oil releases carbon dioxide into the air, and this ultimately leads to global warming] tapping into alternative sources of energy and conserving fuel, conserving our petroleum products and our hydrocarbons so that we can clean up this planet and deal with climate change.

IFILL: Senator, what is true and what is false about the causes? [this is pathetic. no follow up to prove Palin didn't excel in her science classes.]

BIDEN: Well, I think it is manmade. I think it's clearly manmade. And, look, this probably explains the biggest fundamental difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and Sarah Palin and Joe Biden -- Governor Palin and Joe Biden.

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. That's the cause. That's why the polar icecap is melting.
[saying the same thing over and over again does not make it true. why not just resort to the facts. They are on his side.]

Now, let's look at the facts. We have 3 percent of the world's oil reserves. We consume 25 percent of the oil in the world. John McCain has voted 20 times in the last decade-and-a-half against funding alternative energy sources, clean energy sources, wind, solar, biofuels.

The way in which we can stop the greenhouse gases from emitting. We believe -- Barack Obama believes by investing in clean coal and safe nuclear, we can not only create jobs in wind and solar here in the United States, we can export it.

China is building one to three new coal-fired plants burning dirty coal per week. It's polluting not only the atmosphere but the West Coast of the United States. We should export the technology by investing in clean coal technology.

We should be creating jobs. John McCain has voted 20 times against funding alternative energy sources and thinks, I guess, the only answer is drill, drill, drill. Drill we must, but it will take 10 years for one drop of oil to come out of any of the wells that are going to begun to be drilled.

In the meantime, we're all going to be in real trouble.

Question 11: McCain's Support for Caps and Obama's Support for Clean Coal

IFILL: Let me clear something up, Senator McCain has said he supports caps on carbon emissions. Senator Obama has said he supports clean coal technology, which I don't believe you've always supported.

BIDEN: I have always supported it. That's a fact.

IFILL: Well, clear it up for us, both of you, and start with Governor Palin.

PALIN: Yes, Senator McCain does support this. The chant is "drill, baby, drill." [answering the wrong question again but she came off strong here, correcting Biden on the campaign's own words]

And that's what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into. They know that even in my own energy-producing state we have billions of barrels of oil and hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean, green natural gas. And we're building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline which is North America's largest and most you expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets.

Barack Obama and Senator Biden, you've said no to everything in trying to find a domestic solution to the energy crisis that we're in. You even called drilling -- safe, environmentally-friendly drilling offshore as raping the outer continental shelf.

There -- with new technology, with tiny footprints even on land, it is safe to drill and we need to do more of that. But also in that "all of the above" approach that Senator McCain supports, the alternative fuels will be tapped into: the nuclear, the clean coal.

I was surprised to hear you mention that because you had said that there isn't anything -- such a thing as clean coal. And I think you said it in a rope line, too, at one of your rallies.

[Palin got the senator on that one.]

IFILL: We do need to keep within our two minutes. But I just wanted to ask you, do you support capping carbon emissions?

PALIN: I do. I do.

IFILL: OK. And on the clean coal issue?

BIDEN: Absolutely. Absolutely we do. We call for setting hard targets, number one...

IFILL: Clean coal.

BIDEN: Oh, I'm sorry.

IFILL: On clean coal.

BIDEN: Oh, on clean coal. My record, just take a look at the record. My record for 25 years has supported clean coal technology. A comment made in a rope line was taken out of context. [no it wasn't taken out of context. there was a way out of it - he misspoke, or that he said the opposite of what he really wanted to say by accident] I was talking about exporting that technology to China so when they burn their dirty coal, it won't be as dirty, it will be clean.

But here's the bottom line, Gwen: How do we deal with global warming with continued addition to carbon emissions? [very good point now if only he could expound upon it by noting that the carbon dioxide released from burning oil contributes to global warming he'd have put the Palin argument to rest] And if the only answer you have is oil, [no, no no. the whole point is that oil cannot be the answer the McCain team can use if it, like the Obama Biden team, wants to stop global warming] and John -- and the governor says John is for everything.

Well, why did John vote 20 times? Maybe he's for everything as long as it's not helped forward by the government. Maybe he's for everything if the free market takes care of it. I don't know. But he voted 20 times against funding alternative energy sources. [well, I don't count 20 but there were some votes that put McCain's claim to support any and everything in doubt]

Question 12: Marriage for Same-sex Families

IFILL: The next round of -- pardon me, the next round of questions starts with you, Senator Biden. Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples?

BIDEN: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple. [absolutely no distinction? I don't think Obama went quite that far since he supports civil unions but not gay marriage but if they saw the light then I'm definitely falling in love with this ticket]

The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution we should be granted -- same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That's only fair. [barring gay people from visitation and joint life insurance policies seem excessively cruel and barring them from joint ownership of property seems to violate the right to property]

It's what the Constitution calls for. [well, the Constitution is sufficiently vague to put most rights-based claims in doubt but the principles, carried out logically, definitely would be far more inclusive towards gay people] And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do. [the fact that he referred to a same-sex marriage may come back to haunt the Obama/Biden ticket in a general election because it suggests that Biden and his boss really do support gay marriage. Again. I, as a gay man, definitely appreciate his support but this definitely should be considered a major gaffe].

IFILL: Governor, would you support expanding that beyond Alaska to the rest of the nation?

PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. And unfortunately that's sometimes where those steps lead.
[well, couldn't the distinction between civil unions and marriage be made?]

But I also want to clarify, if there's any kind of suggestion at all from my answer that I would be anything but tolerant of adults in America choosing their partners, choosing relationships that they deem best for themselves, you know, I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and group of friends and even within that group you would see some who may not agree with me on this issue, some very dear friends who don't agree with me on this issue.
[Gays don't expect tolerance; they expect respect. Tolerance refers to that which is not approved, and more importantly, that which lacks the prerequisite dignity of having rights. The "tolerated" person's freedoms aren't his or hers by right; they are bestowed upon them as a privilege from one far more superior to him or her]

But in that tolerance also, no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties. [in other words, the McCain administration will not support civil unions or domestic partnerships but won't get in the way of gay individuals who hire a lawyer to write up contracts that allow them to share property or visit each other in the hospital.]

But I will tell Americans straight up that I don't support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman, and I think through nuances we can go round and round about what that actually means.

But I'm being as straight up with Americans as I can in my non- support for anything but a traditional definition of marriage.
[what does she mean by "nuances?"]

Question 12: Same Sex Marriage Follow Up for Senator Joseph Biden

[Biden is given a life-line before the headlines are written in the newspapers.]

IFILL: Let's try to avoid nuance, Senator. Do you support gay marriage?

BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it. [wow, real wordy here. "to be able to be able?" What does that mean? Either I'm able or not able. I'm not able to be able. If I'm unable to be able then I'm just unable.]

The bottom line though is, and I'm glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that's the case, we really don't have a difference.
[no, don't give her credit where it isn't due. She made no such commitment.]

Question 13: Same Sex Unions Clarification for Governor Palin

IFILL: Is that what your said?

PALIN: Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage and my answer is the same as his and it is that I do not. [I'm surprised by her answer here for the Republican Party's religious base would expect her to say "no" but once again she decided not to answer the question.]

IFILL: Wonderful. You agree. On that note, let's move to foreign policy.


Question 14: Exit Strategy from Iraq

IFILL: You both have sons who are in Iraq or on their way to Iraq. You, Governor Palin, have said that you would like to see a real clear plan for an exit strategy. What should that be, Governor?

PALIN: I am very thankful that we do have a good plan and the surge and the counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq that has proven to work, I am thankful that that is part of the plan implemented under a great American hero, General Petraeus, and pushed hard by another great American, Senator John McCain.

I know that the other ticket opposed this surge, in fact, even opposed funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Barack Obama voted against funding troops there after promising that he would not do so.

PALIN: And Senator Biden, I respected you when you called him out on that. You said that his vote was political and you said it would cost lives. And Barack Obama at first said he would not do that. He turned around under political pressure and he voted against funding the troops. We do have a plan for withdrawal. We don't need early withdrawal out of Iraq. We cannot afford to lose there or we're going to be no better off in the war in Afghanistan either. We have got to win in Iraq. [so what's the plan for a troop withdrawal?]

And with the surge that has worked we're now down to presurge numbers in Iraq. That's where we can be. [oh, okay, there is none for why else would you say "that's where we can be."] We can start putting more troops in Afghanistan as we also work with our NATO allies who are there strengthening us and we need to grow our military. We cannot afford to lose against al Qaeda and the Shia extremists who are still there, still fighting us, but we're getting closer and closer to victory. And it would be a travesty if we quit now in Iraq. [well, the Sunni Awakening don't like al Qaeda so they probably wouldn't be given a base for operations should we leave]

IFILL: Senator?

BIDEN: Gwen, with all due respect, I didn't hear a plan. [right. I didn't either.] Barack Obama offered a clear plan. Shift responsibility to Iraqis over the next 16 months. Draw down our combat troops. Ironically the same plan that Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq and George Bush are now negotiating. [right. Prime Minister Maliki definitely undercut President Bush when he expressed his support for a time line which roughly follows Obama's.] The only odd man out here, only one left out is John McCain, number one. [they want us out. the American people want us out. Bush sees we have to get out, if only to move some troops to Afghanistan. Why doesn't McCain want us out? why doesn't Biden put his argument, strong as it is, that way? Would have been more memorable.] Number two, with regard to Barack Obama not quote funding the troops, John McCain voted the exact same way. John McCain voted against funding the troops because of an amendment he voted against had a timeline in it to draw down American troops. And John said I'm not going to fund the troops if in fact there's a time line. [an interesting point. both nominees voted against troop funding bills because they considered the objective that was sought wrongheaded. One wanted a withdrawal, the other did not]. Barack Obama and I agree fully and completely on one thing. You've got to have a time line to draw down the troops and shift responsibility to the Iraqis.

We're spending $10 billion a month while Iraqis have an $80 billion surplus. Barack says it's time for them to spend their own money and have the 400,000 military we trained for them begin to take their own responsibility and gradually over 16 months, withdrawal. John McCain -- 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.

[I think, according to The Washington Post's Fact Checker, that Iraq's surplus dwindled by $10 billion but that doesn't fundamentally undermine Biden's core point - that we are spending our money on a country that has some money of its own and there is no end in sight. Add to that what Obama said (and may I note, something Biden failed to raise) concerning the priorities getting underfunded here. We are diverting our spending from this nation's infrastructure to Iraq's - money that could be spent on our roads to Iraq's roads, money that could spent on our public schools to Iraq's public schools, money that could be spent on our national guard and law enforcement on their law enforcement - and there is no end in site.]

IFILL: Governor?

PALIN: Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq and that is not what our troops need to hear today, that's for sure. [Well, what did you expect? A response to Biden's argument or a gut-wrenching visual Americans do not want to see - the Americans losing a war - the can do anything American mindset that suggests that we can never give up on anything, no matter what the cost, because it would be dishonorable.] And it's not what our nation needs to be able to count on. You guys opposed the surge. The surge worked. Barack Obama still can't admit the surge works.
[actually, he does admit that it has worked, to the limited extent that it bought the Iraqi factions time to resolve their political disputes but this limited success can also be attributed to the Sunni Awakening and a "secret weapon" Bob Woodward speaks of on the political talk shows]
We'll know when we're finished in Iraq when the Iraqi government can govern its people and when the Iraqi security forces can secure its people. [how would we know that as long as our troops are there. would not the test be once we leave? moreover, how long will our commitment be. I really wish Ifil followed up by asking Palin if our commitment lastts another 5, 10, 15, 20, 50 or maybe 100 years.]

And our commanders on the ground will tell us when those conditions have been met. And Maliki and Talabani also in working with us are knowing again that we are getting closer and closer to that point, that victory that's within sight.
[gaffe - she said victory is not yet in sight]
Now, you said regarding Senator McCain's military policies there, Senator Biden, that you supported a lot of these things. In fact, you said in fact that you wanted to run, you'd be honored to run with him on the ticket. That's an indication I think of some of the support that you had at least until you became the VP pick here.

You also said that Barack Obama was not ready to be commander in chief. And I know again that you opposed the move he made to try to cut off funding for the troops and I respect you for that. I don't know how you can defend that position now but I know that you know especially with your son in the National Guard and I have great respect for your family also and the honor that you show our military. Barack Obama though, another story there. Anyone I think who can cut off funding for the troops after promising not to is another story.

IFILL: Senator Biden?

BIDEN: 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. [this sounds weak if only because he is not responding to Palin's "white flag" claim. Here, Biden could have taken a page from the first presidential election when Obama responded to the "loosing" allegation with a list of priorities argument.]

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.
[bingo. dead wrong about the intelligence. dead wrong about history and dead wrong about the challenges that would follow. stylistically strong too. Emphatic.]

Question 15: Which is More Dangerous - Iran or Afghanistan

IFILL: Let's move to Iran and Pakistan. I'm curious about what you think starting with you Senator Biden. What's the greater threat, a nuclear Iran or an unstable Afghanistan? Explain why. [well, our moderator misspoke here]

BIDEN: Well, they're both extremely dangerous. I always am focused, as you know Gwen, I have been focusing on for a long time, along with Barack on Pakistan. Pakistan already has nuclear weapons. Pakistan already has deployed nuclear weapons. Pakistan's weapons can already hit Israel and the Mediterranean. Iran getting a nuclear weapon would be very, very destabilizing. They are more than - they are not close to getting a nuclear weapon that's able to be deployed. So they're both very dangerous. They both would be game changers.

[right answer. If Iran got nuclear weapons we can be talking about the next arms race. If Pakistan's government collapsed it could be replaced by the first Islamic fundamentalist government that possesses nuclear weapons].

But look, here's what the fundamental problem I have with John's policy about terror instability. John continues to tell us that the central war in the front on terror is in Iraq. I promise you, if an attack comes in the homeland, it's going to come as our security services have said, it is going to come from al Qaeda planning in the hills of Afghanistan and Pakistan. That's where they live. That's where they are. That's where it will come from. [that's right and that alliteration works] And right now that resides in Pakistan, a stable government needs to be established. We need to support that democracy by helping them not only with their military but with their governance and their economic well-being.

There have been 7,000 madrasses built along that border. We should be helping them build schools to compete for those hearts and minds of the people in the region so that we're actually able to take on terrorism and by the way, that's where bin Laden lives and we will go at him if we have actually intelligence.
[and, may I add, conduct military strikes against al Qaeda terrorists hiding in Pakistan when there actionable intelligence can be found]

IFILL: Governor, nuclear Pakistan, unstable Pakistan, nuclear Iran? Which is the greater threat?

PALIN: Both are extremely dangerous, of course. And as for who coined that central war on terror being in Iraq, it was the General Petraeus and al Qaeda, both leaders there and it's probably the only thing that they're ever going to agree on, but that it was a central war on terror is in Iraq. You don't have to believe me or John McCain on that. I would believe Petraeus and the leader of al Qaeda. [well, Osama bin Laden would have our troops shot no matter where they are in the Middle East so of course he would consider Iraq to be a central war on terror to rally all Arabs and all Muslims against the United States, but the fact of the matter is that he is hiding in Afghanistan and Pakistan and if we want to stop him from rallying the Muslim community against us we have to strike in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

An armed, nuclear armed especially Iran is so extremely dangerous to consider. They cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons period. Israel is in jeopardy of course when we're dealing with Ahmadinejad as a leader of Iran. [that's the reason why we must be concerned? I don't think so. The Iranians haven't attacked the Israelis yet. Better off with the arms race argument if we are talking about substantial concerns but then again, she isn't concerned about that. This is about campaigning and being the first to speak up for Israel scores her points among Florida's Jewish voters.] Iran claiming that Israel as he termed it, a stinking corpse, a country that should be wiped off the face of the earth. Now a leader like Ahmadinejad who is not sane or stable when he says things like that is not one whom we can allow to acquire nuclear energy, nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, the Castro brothers, [and the Sopranos?] others who are dangerous dictators are one that Barack Obama has said he would be willing to meet with without preconditions being met first.

And an issue like that taken up by a presidential candidate goes beyond naivete and goes beyond poor judgment. A statement that he made like that is downright dangerous because leaders like Ahmadinejad who would seek to acquire nuclear weapons and wipe off the face of the earth an ally like we have in Israel should not be met with without preconditions and diplomatic efforts being undertaken first. [has "not meeting" the Iranians worked Governor Palin?]

Question 16: Negotiating with the Enemies:

IFILL: Governor and senator, I want you both to respond to this. Secretaries of state Baker, Kissinger, Powell, they have all advocated some level of engagement with enemies. Do you think these former secretaries of state are wrong on that?

PALIN: No and Dr. Henry Kissinger especially. I had a good conversation with him recently. And he shared with me his passion for diplomacy. And that's what John McCain and I would engage in also. But again, with some of these dictators who hate America and hate what we stand for, with our freedoms, our democracy, our tolerance, our respect for women's rights, those who would try to destroy what we stand for cannot be met with just sitting down on a presidential level as Barack Obama had said he would be willing to do. That is beyond bad judgment. That is dangerous. [I don't think Obama said that negotiations would be easy or that "just sitting down" would resolve our differences]

No, diplomacy is very important. First and foremost, that is what we would engage in. But diplomacy is hard work by serious people. [No kidding, which is why Palin shouldn't be put in a position where she is at the negotiating table. She didn't participate in any known trade missions and she offended the very oil companies she will need to help fund the natural gas pipeline. Go figure.] It's lining out clear objectives and having your friends and your allies ready to back you up there and have sanctions lined up before any kind of presidential summit would take place.

IFILL: Senator?

BIDEN: Can I clarify this? This is simply not true about Barack Obama. He did not say sit down with Ahmadinejad.

BIDEN: The fact of the matter is, it surprises me that Senator McCain doesn't realize that Ahmadinejad does not control the security apparatus in Iran. The theocracy controls the security apparatus, number one.
[interesting. a minor gaffe here. Ahmadinejad is in line with the theocrats but I take him at his point - there is no single one person who governs Iran.]

Number two, five secretaries of state did say we should talk with and sit down.

Now, John and Governor Palin now say they're all for -- they have a passion, I think the phrase was, a passion for diplomacy and that we have to bring our friends and allies along.

Our friends and allies have been saying, Gwen, "Sit down. Talk. Talk. Talk." Our friends and allies have been saying that, five secretaries of state, three of them Republicans.
[right. they have been pressing us to negotiate with the North Koreans. they have been pressing us to negotiate with the Iranians and some preferred more talks before we invaded Iraq.]

And John McCain has said he would go along with an agreement, but he wouldn't sit down. Now, how do you do that when you don't have your administration sit down and talk with the adversary?

And look what President Bush did. After five years, he finally sent a high-ranking diplomat to meet with the highest-ranking diplomats in Iran, in Europe, to try to work out an arrangement.
[bingo. bush is now on board, belatedly. However, negotiations with the North Koreans have hit a new stand-still.]

Our allies are on that same page. And if we don't go the extra mile on diplomacy, what makes you think the allies are going to sit with us?

The last point I'll make, 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.
[well, I don't think McCain said he wouldn't sit down with an ally of this country. Biden is hitting McCain for making the wrong gaffe. Senator McCain confused Spain's leadership for Venezuela's.]

IFILL: Governor, you mentioned Israel and your support for Israel.


Question 17: The Two Nation Peace Process - what the administration Got Right and Wrong

IFILL: What has this administration done right or wrong -- this is the great, lingering, unresolved issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- what have they done? And is a two-state solution the solution?

PALIN: A two-state solution is the solution. And Secretary Rice, having recently met with leaders on one side or the other there, also, still in these waning days of the Bush administration, trying to forge that peace, and that needs to be done, and that will be top of an agenda item, also, under a McCain-Palin administration. [not answering the question]

Israel is our strongest and best ally in the Middle East. We have got to assure them that we will never allow a second Holocaust, despite, again, warnings from Iran and any other country that would seek to destroy Israel, that that is what they would like to see. [yes but still not answering the question]

We will support Israel. A two-state solution, building our embassy, also, in Jerusalem, those things that we look forward to being able to accomplish, with this peace-seeking nation, and they have a track record of being able to forge these peace agreements.. [still not answering the question]

They succeeded with Jordan. They succeeded with Egypt. I'm sure that we're going to see more success there, also [will she going to answer the question?]

It's got to be a commitment of the United States of America, though. And I can promise you, in a McCain-Palin administration, that commitment is there to work with our friends in Israel.
[so much for answering the question]

IFILL: Senator?

BIDEN: Gwen, no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. I would have never, ever joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion.

But you asked a question about whether or not this administration's policy had made sense or something to that effect. It has been an abject failure, this administration's policy.
[no, the question was what the administration did right and wrong in pushing for a two-state solution]

In fairness to Secretary Rice, she's trying to turn it around now in the seventh or eighth year. [so one thing the Bush administration did wrong was procrastinate.]

Here's what the president said when we said no. He insisted on elections on the West Bank, when I said, and others said, and Barack Obama said, "Big mistake. Hamas will win. You'll legitimize them." What happened? Hamas won. [bingo! you hit it out of the ball park!]

When we kicked -- along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, "Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't know -- if you don't, Hezbollah will control it."

Now what's happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel.
[oh wait. nope. foul ball. Does he really want to put American troops in Lebanon again? Even McCain claims to have opposed the first American-led occupation of Lebanon!]

The fact of the matter is, the policy of this administration has been an abject failure.

And speaking of freedom being on the march, the only thing on the march is Iran. It's closer to a bomb. Its proxies now have a major stake in Lebanon, as well as in the Gaza Strip with Hamas.

We will change this policy with thoughtful, real, live diplomacy that understands that you must back Israel in letting them negotiate, support their negotiation, and stand with them, not insist on policies like this administration has.
[okay. back on track.]

Question 17: Follow Up: Administration's Middle East Policy an "Abject Failure"
IFILL: Has this administration's policy been an abject failure, as the senator says, Governor?

PALIN: No, I do not believe that it has been. But I'm so encouraged to know that we both love Israel, and I think that is a good thing to get to agree on, Senator Biden. I respect your position on that. [what a relief! Biden doesn't believe Israel shouldn't be wiped off the face of the earth]

No, in fact, when we talk about the Bush administration, there's a time, too, when Americans are going to say, "Enough is enough with your ticket," on constantly looking backwards, and pointing fingers, and doing the blame game. [nice one-liner but will she refute what Biden said about giving Hamas a foothold in the Gaza Strip?]

There have been huge blunders in the war. There have been huge blunders throughout this administration, as there are with every administration.

But for a ticket that wants to talk about change and looking into the future, there's just too much finger-pointing backwards to ever make us believe that that's where you're going.

[A pretty good zinger though I guess it could be argued that we can't move on unless we learn from the past. Obviously we can punish those in Washington who have made the wrong decisions or who only recently pushed for a new direction in leadership.]

Positive change is coming, though. Reform of government is coming. We'll learn from the past mistakes in this administration and other administrations.

And we're going to forge ahead with putting government back on the side of the people and making sure that our country comes first, putting obsessive partisanship aside.
[what reform? what is going to change?]

That's what John McCain has been known for in all these years. He has been the maverick. He has ruffled feathers.

But I know, Senator Biden, you have respected for them that, and I respect you for acknowledging that. But change is coming.

Question 18: Biden Asked to Respond to "looking at things backwards"

IFILL: Just looking backwards, Senator?

BIDEN: Look, past is prologue, Gwen. The issue is, how different is John McCain's policy going to be than George Bush's? I haven't heard anything yet.

I haven't heard how his policy is going to be different on Iran than George Bush's. I haven't heard how his policy is going to be different with Israel than George Bush's. I haven't heard how his policy in Afghanistan is going to be different than George Bush's. I haven't heard how his policy in Pakistan is going to be different than George Bush's.

[This is Biden at his best. Forceful, emphatic, and without excessive verbiage. Wow. I'm stunned.]

It may be. But so far, it is the same as George Bush's. And you know where that policy has taken us.

We will make significant change so, once again, we're the most respected nation in the world. That's what we're going to do.

Question 18: When to Use Nuclear Weapons

IFILL: Governor, on another issue, interventionism, nuclear weapons. What should be the trigger, or should there be a trigger, when nuclear weapons use is ever put into play?

PALIN: Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be all, end all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period. [yadayadayada. When would use use them?]

Our nuclear weaponry here in the U.S. is used as a deterrent. And that's a safe, stable way to use nuclear weaponry. [so when do we use it?]

But for those countries -- North Korea, also, under Kim Jong-il -- we have got to make sure that we're putting the economic sanctions on these countries and that we have friends and allies supporting us in this to make sure that leaders like Kim Jong-il and Ahmadinejad are not allowed to acquire, to proliferate, or to use those nuclear weapons. It is that important.

Can we talk about Afghanistan real quick, also, though? [okay so the question remains unanswered.]

IFILL: Certainly.

PALIN: OK, I'd like to just really quickly mention there, too, that when you look back and you say that the Bush administration's policy on Afghanistan perhaps would be the same as McCain, and that's not accurate.

The surge principles, not the exact strategy, but the surge principles that have worked in Iraq need to be implemented in Afghanistan, also. And that, perhaps, would be a difference with the Bush administration.
[oh finally, she makes a point worth testing.]

Now, Barack Obama had said that all we're doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians. And such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause. [This statement was taken out of context. Whether intentionally or not, Palin left the viewers with the impression that Obama opposed the war in Iraq. Nothing can be further from the truth as can be seen near the top of this post. He, as can be seen in that post, thinks sending ground troops would be more effective and less deadly towards the citizens we need to win to our side.]

That's not what we're doing there. We're fighting terrorists, and we're securing democracy, and we're building schools for children there so that there is opportunity in that country, also. There will be a big difference there, and we will win in -- in Afghanistan, also.

IFILL: Senator, you may talk about nuclear use, if you'd like, and also about Afghanistan.

BIDEN: I'll talk about both. With Afghanistan, facts matter, Gwen.

The fact is that our commanding general in Afghanistan said today that a surge -- the surge principles used in Iraq will not -- well, let me say this again now -- our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan, not Joe Biden, our commanding general in Afghanistan.

He said we need more troops. We need government-building. We need to spend more money on the infrastructure in Afghanistan.

Look, we have spent more money -- we spend more money in three weeks on combat in Iraq than we spent on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country.

Let me say that again. Three weeks in Iraq; seven years, seven years or six-and-a-half years in Afghanistan. Now, that's number one.
[reminding us once again that we are squandering our financial and military resources in Iraq]

Number two, with regard to arms control and weapons, nuclear weapons require a nuclear arms control regime. John McCain voted against a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty that every Republican has supported.

John McCain has opposed amending the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty with an amendment to allow for inspections.

John McCain has not been -- has not been the kind of supporter for dealing with -- and let me put it another way. My time is almost up.

Barack Obama, first thing he did when he came to the United States Senate, new senator, reached across the aisle to my colleague, Dick Lugar, a Republican, and said, "We've got to do something about keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists."

They put together a piece of legislation that, in fact, was serious and real. Every major -- I shouldn't say every -- on the two at least that I named, I know that John McCain has been opposed to extending the arms control regime in the world.

[Good. Nice to see Biden tout Obama's effort to reach across the aisle on an issues of high importance.]

IFILL: Governor?

PALIN: Well, first, McClellan did not say definitively the surge principles would not work in Afghanistan. [wrong general] Certainly, accounting for different conditions in that different country and conditions are certainly different. We have NATO allies helping us for one and even the geographic differences are huge but the counterinsurgency principles could work in Afghanistan. McClellan didn't say anything opposite of that. The counterinsurgency strategy going into Afghanistan, clearing, holding, rebuilding, the civil society and the infrastructure can work in Afghanistan. And those leaders who are over there, who have also been advising George Bush on this have not said anything different but that. [score one for Senator Biden since he is closer to stating what the general, David McKiernan, said. Palin speaks of military commitment, McKiernan for a combination of military and political commitments for the long-term. biden did his homework. Palin did not.]

IFILL: Senator.

BIDEN: Well, our commanding general did say that. The fact of the matter is that again, I'll just put in perspective, while Barack and I and Chuck Hagel and Dick Lugar have been calling for more money to help in Afghanistan, more troops in Afghanistan, John McCain was saying two years ago quote, "The reason we don't read about Afghanistan anymore in the paper, it's succeeded.

Barack Obama was saying we need more troops there. Again, we spend in three weeks on combat missions in Iraq, more than we spent in the entire time we have been in Afghanistan. That will change in a Barack Obama administration.

Question 19: The American Public's Stomach Interventions Abroad

IFILL: Senator, you have quite a record, this is the next question here, of being an interventionist. You argued for intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo, initially in Iraq and Pakistan and now in Darfur, putting U.S. troops on the ground. Boots on the ground. Is this something the American public has the stomach for?

BIDEN: I think the American public has the stomach for success. My recommendations on Bosnia. I admit I was the first one to recommend it. They saved tens of thousands of lives. And initially John McCain opposed it along with a lot of other people. But the end result was it worked. Look what we did in Bosnia. We took Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks, being told by everyone, I was told by everyone that this would mean that they had been killing each other for a thousand years, it would never work. [I never heard of the Bosniaks before. Who are they? Bosnian Muslims?]

There's a relatively stable government there now as in Kosovo. With regard to Iraq, I indicated it would be a mistake to -- I gave the president the power. I voted for the power because he said he needed it not to go to war but to keep the United States, the UN in line, to keep sanctions on Iraq and not let them be lifted. [But what the senator left out was the fact that it did authorize the president to go to war]

I, along with Dick Lugar, before we went to war, said if we were to go to war without our allies, without the kind of support we need, we'd be there for a decade and it'd cost us tens of billions of dollars. John McCain said, no, it was going to be OK.

I don't have the stomach for genocide when it comes to Darfur. We can now impose a no-fly zone. It's within our capacity. We can lead NATO if we're willing to take a hard stand. We can, I've been in those camps in Chad. I've seen the suffering, thousands and tens of thousands have died and are dying. We should rally the world to act and demonstrate it by our own movement to provide the helicopters to get the 21,000 forces of the African Union in there now to stop this genocide.

IFILL: Thank you, senator. Governor.

PALIN: Oh, yeah, it's so obvious I'm a Washington outsider. And someone just not used to the way you guys operate. Because here you voted for the war and now you oppose the war. You're one who says, as so many politicians do, I was for it before I was against it or vice- versa. Americans are craving that straight talk and just want to know, hey, if you voted for it, tell us why you voted for it and it was a war resolution. [score one point for Palin. Biden was trying to have it both ways on the war vote. With that said, what of her view about the public's "stomach" for interventions?]

And you had supported John McCain's military strategies pretty adamantly until this race and you had opposed very adamantly Barack Obama's military strategy, including cutting off funding for the troops that attempt all through the primary.

And I watched those debates, so I remember what those were all about.

But as for as Darfur, we can agree on that also, the supported of the no-fly zone, making sure that all options are on the table there also.

America is in a position to help. What I've done in my position to help, as the governor of a state that's pretty rich in natural resources, we have a $40 billion investment fund, a savings fund called the Alaska Permanent Fund.

When I and others in the legislature found out we had some millions of dollars in Sudan, we called for divestment through legislation of those dollars to make sure we weren't doing anything that would be seen as condoning the activities there in Darfur. That legislation hasn't passed yet but it needs to because all of us, as individuals, and as humanitarians and as elected officials should do all we can to end those atrocities in that region of the world.

Question 20: Drawing the Line: When to Intervene Militarily

IFILL: Is there a line that should be drawn about when we decide to go in?

BIDEN: Absolutely. There is a line that should be drawn.

IFILL: What is it?

BIDEN: The line that should be drawn is whether we A, first of all have the capacity to do anything about it number one. And number two, certain new lines that have to be drawn internationally. When a country engages in genocide, when a country engaging in harboring terrorists and will do nothing about it, at that point that country in my view and Barack's view forfeits their right to say you have no right to intervene at all. [well, at least he answers the question. I would support military interventions if I believe it is in our national interests so line #2 is agreeable.]

The truth of the matter is, though, let's go back to John McCain's strategy. I never supported John McCain's strategy on the war. John McCain said exactly what Dick Cheney said, go back and look at Barack Obama's statements and mine. Go look at, contemporaneously, held hearings in the summer before we went to war, saying if we went to war, we would not be greeted as liberator, we would have a fight between Sunnis and Shias, we would be tied down for a decade and cost us hundreds of billions of dollars.

John McCain was saying the exact opposite. John McCain was lock- step with Dick Cheney at that point how this was going to be easy. So John McCain's strategy in this war, not just whether or not to go, the actual conduct of the war has been absolutely wrong from the outset.

IFILL: Governor.

PALIN: I beg to disagree with you, again, here on whether you supported Barack Obama or John McCain's strategies. Here again, you can say what you want to say a month out before people are asked to vote on this, but we listened to the debates.

I think tomorrow morning, the pundits are going to start do the who said what at what time and we'll have proof of some of this, but, again, John McCain who knows how to win a war. Who's been there and he's faced challenges and he knows what evil is and knows what it takes to overcome the challenges here with our military.

He knows to learn from the mistakes and blunders we have seen in the war in Iraq, especially. He will know how to implement the strategies, working with our commanders and listening to what they have to say, taking the politics out of these war issues. He'll know how to win a war."
[Can the knowledge gap between the two running mates be any larger? Palin speaks in generalities; Biden in detail.]

IFILL: Thank you, governor.

Question 21: Were the Vice President to Become President - the Differences in Policy

Probably the biggest cliche about the vice-presidency is that it's a heartbeat away, everybody's waiting to see what would happen if the worst happened. How would -- you disagree on some things from your principles, you disagree on drilling in Alaska, the National Wildlife Refuge, you disagree on the surveillance law, at least you have in the past. How would a Biden administration be different from an Obama administration if that were to happen.

BIDEN: God forbid that would ever happen, it would be a national tragedy of historic proportions if it were to happen.

But if it did, I would carry out Barack Obama's policy, his policies of reinstating the middle class, making sure they get a fair break, making sure they have access to affordable health insurance, making sure they get serious tax breaks, making sure we can help their children get to college, making sure there is an energy policy that leads us in the direction of not only toward independence and clean environment but an energy policy that creates 5 million new jobs, a foreign policy that ends this war in Iraq, a foreign policy that goes after the one mission the American public gave the president after 9/11, to get and capture or kill bin Laden and to eliminate al Qaeda. A policy that would in fact engage our allies in making sure that we knew we were acting on the same page and not dictating.

And a policy that would reject the Bush Doctrine of preemption and regime change and replace it with a doctrine of prevention and cooperation and, ladies and gentlemen, this is the biggest ticket item that we have in this election.

This is the most important election you will ever, ever have voted in, any of you, since 1932. And there's such stark differences, I would follow through on Barack's policies because in essence, I agree with every major initiative he is suggesting.

[good way to sidestep the question and point to what the two have in common.]
IFILL: Governor.

PALIN: And heaven forbid, yes, that would ever happen, no matter how this ends up, that that would ever happen with either party.

As for disagreeing with John McCain and how our administration would work, what do you expect? A team of mavericks, of course we're not going to agree on 100 percent of everything.
[What are they, action heroes? Put on the cape already and fly away.] As we discuss ANWR there, at least we can agree to disagree on that one. I will keep pushing him on ANWR. I have so appreciated he has never asked me to check my opinions at the door and he wants a deliberative debate and healthy debate so we can make good policy. [she then answers the question.]

What I would do also, if that were to ever happen, though, is to continue the good work he is so committed to of putting government back on the side of the people and get rid of the greed and corruption on Wall Street and in Washington.

I think we need a little bit of reality from Wasilla Main Street there, brought to Washington, DC.
[so what is their plan for getting "rid of the greed and corruption on Wall Street and in Washington?]

PALIN: So that people there can understand how the average working class family is viewing bureaucracy in the federal government and Congress and inaction of Congress.

Just everyday working class Americans saying, you know, government, just get out of my way. If you're going to do any harm and mandate more things on me and take more of my money and income tax and business taxes, you're going to have a choice in just a few weeks here on either supporting a ticket that wants to create jobs and bolster our economy and win the war or you're going to be supporting a ticket that wants to increase taxes, which ultimately kills jobs, and is going to hurt our economy.

BIDEN: Can I respond? Look, all you have to do is go down Union Street with me in Wilmington or go to Katie's Restaurant or walk into Home Depot with me where I spend a lot of time and you ask anybody in there whether or not the economic and foreign policy of this administration has made them better off in the last eight years. And then ask them whether there's a single major initiative that John McCain differs with the president on. On taxes, on Iraq, on Afghanistan, on the whole question of how to help education, on the dealing with health care.

Look, the people in my neighborhood, they get it. They get it. They know they've been getting the short end of the stick. So walk with me in my neighborhood, go back to my old neighborhood in Claymont, an old steel town or go up to Scranton with me. These people know the middle class has gotten the short end. The wealthy have done very well. Corporate America has been rewarded. It's time we change it. Barack Obama will change it.
[right. many have been left out.]

IFILL: Governor?

PALIN: Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. [catchy phrase but her claim that we must somehow forget about what the Bush administration's policies have led to is somehow absurd. Eight years and the economy isn't doing well.] You preferenced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, [appealing to joe six pack by dropping the "gs" again. I hope working class America doesn't fall for it.] let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education and I'm glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and god bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right? I say, too, with education, America needs to be putting a lot more focus on that and our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deserving. Teachers needed to be paid more. I come from a house full of school teachers. My grandma was, my dad who is in the audience today, he's a schoolteacher, had been for many years. My brother, who I think is the best schoolteacher in the year, and here's a shout-out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary School, you get extra credit for watching the debate. [well, she definitely sounds like a cheerleader.]

Education credit in American has been in some sense in some of our states just accepted to be a little bit lax and we have got to increase the standards. No Child Left Behind was implemented. It's not doing the job though. We need flexibility in No Child Left Behind. We need to put more of an emphasis on the profession of teaching. We need to make sure that education in either one of our agendas, I think, absolute top of the line. My kids as public school participants right now, it's near and dear to my heart. I'm very, very concerned about where we're going with education and we have got to ramp it up and put more attention in that arena.

Question 21: The Vice Presidency - What Think of It Today
IFILL: Everybody gets extra credit tonight. We're going to move on to the next question. Governor, you said in July that someone would have to explain to you exactly what it is the vice president does every day. You, senator, said, you would not be vice president under any circumstances. Now maybe this was just what was going on at the time. But tell us now, looking forward, what it is you think the vice presidency is worth now.

PALIN: In my comment there, it was a lame attempt at a joke and yours was a lame attempt at a joke, too, I guess, because nobody got it. Of course we know what a vice president does.

BIDEN: They didn't get yours or mine? Which one didn't they get?

PALIN: No, no. Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that's not only to preside over the Senate and will take that position very seriously also. I'm thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president's policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are. [what authority is that? I think there were only two jobs specifically spelled out in the Constitution: (a) to preside over the senate and cast the tie-breaking vote and (b) to serve as the stand-in should the current occupant need to step down or resign or dies in office. Given her lack of basic knowledge, I'd be scared to give her what Vice President Cheney took for himself and that was bad enough.] John McCain and I have had good conversations about where I would lead with his agenda. That is energy independence in America and reform of government over all, and then working with families of children with special needs. That's near and dear to my heart also. In those arenas, John McCain has already tapped me and said, that's where I want you, I want you to lead. I said, I can't wait to get and there go to work with you. [so let's get this straight. McCain had already delegated his authority to Palin in one area?]

IFILL: Senator?

BIDEN: Gwen, I hope we'll get back to education because I don't know any government program that John is supporting, not early education, more money for it. The reason No Child Left Behind was left behind, the money was left behind, we didn't fund it. We can get back to that I assume.

With regard to the role of vice president, I had a long talk, as I'm sure the governor did with her principal, in my case with Barack. Let me tell you what Barack asked me to do. I have a history of getting things done in the United States Senate. John McCain would acknowledge that. My record shows that on controversial issues. I would be the point person for the legislative initiatives in the United States Congress for our administration. I would also, when asked if I wanted a portfolio, my response was, no. But Barack Obama indicated to me he wanted me with him to help him govern. So every major decision he'll be making, I'll be sitting in the room to give my best advice. He's president, not me, I'll give my best advice.

And one of the things he said early on when he was choosing, he said he picked someone who had an independent judgment and wouldn't be afraid to tell him if he disagreed. That is sort of my reputation, as you know. I look forward to working with Barack and playing a very constructive role in his presidency, bringing about the kind of change this country needs.

[good, he knows who has the supporting role.]

Question 22: Vice President in Legislative Branch

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. [the founding fathers said almost nothing about the vice president. The VP breaks tie votes in the senate and stands in for the president should he or she steps down.]

IFILL: Vice President Cheney's interpretation of the vice presidency?

BIDEN: Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that. [I know there has been some criticism regarding Biden's "Article I reference" but he is right - the vice president's powers are defined in that part of the Constitution. No gaffe there.]

And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit. [actually it doesn't even give him that advisory role. The president can of course, consult with him and has, under Vice President Al Gore and Vice President Richard Cheney, were heavily involved in the discussions held at the White House. Others had no major role in the administration.]

The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.

IFILL: Let's talk conventional wisdom for a moment. The conventional wisdom, Governor Palin with you, is that your Achilles heel is that you lack experience. Your conventional wisdom against you is that your Achilles heel is that you lack discipline, Senator Biden. What id it really for you, Governor Palin? What is it really for you, Senator Biden? Start with you, governor.

PALIN: My experience as an executive will be put to good use as a mayor and business owner and oil and gas regulator and then as governor of a huge state, a huge energy producing state that is accounting for much progress towards getting our nation energy independence and that's extremely important.
[a mayor of a town of 5,000 and a state of 600,000. Sorry. Doesn't cut it.]

But it wasn't just that experience tapped into, it was my connection to the heartland of America. Being a mom, one very concerned about a son in the war, about a special needs child, about kids heading off to college, how are we going to pay those tuition bills? About times and Todd and our marriage in our past where we didn't have health insurance and we know what other Americans are going through as they sit around the kitchen table and try to figure out how are they going to pay out-of-pocket for health care? We've been there also so that connection was important. [what does this have anything to do with being a qualified vice president?]

But even more important is that world view that I share with John McCain. That world view that says that America is a nation of exceptionalism. And we are to be that shining city on a hill, as President Reagan so beautifully said, that we are a beacon of hope and that we are unapologetic here. We are not perfect as a nation. But together, we represent a perfect ideal. And that is democracy and tolerance and freedom and equal rights. Those things that we stand for that can be put to good use as a force for good in this world.

John McCain and I share that. You combine all that with being a team with the only track record of making a really, a difference in where we've been and reforming, that's a good team, it's a good ticket.

IFILL: Senator?

BIDEN: You're very kind suggesting my only Achilles Heel is my lack of discipline.

BIDEN: Others talk about my excessive passion. I'm not going to change. I have 35 years in public office. People can judge who I am. I haven't changed in that time.

And, by the way, a record of change -- I will place my record and Barack's record against John McCain's or anyone else in terms of fundamental accomplishments. Wrote the crime bill, put 100,000 cops on the street, wrote the Violence Against Women Act, which John McCain voted against both of them, was the catalyst to change the circumstance in Bosnia, led by President Clinton, obviously.

Look, I understand what it's like to be a single parent. When my wife and daughter died and my two sons were gravely injured, I understand what it's like as a parent to wonder what it's like if your kid's going to make it.

I understand what it's like to sit around the kitchen table with a father who says, "I've got to leave, champ, because there's no jobs here. I got to head down to Wilmington. And when we get enough money, honey, we'll bring you down."

I understand what it's like. I'm much better off than almost all Americans now. I get a good salary with the United States Senate. I live in a beautiful house that's my total investment that I have. So I -- I am much better off now.

But the notion that somehow, because I'm a man, I don't know what it's like to raise two kids alone, I don't know what it's like to have a child you're not sure is going to -- is going to make it -- I understand.

I understand, as well as, with all due respect, the governor or anybody else, what it's like for those people sitting around that kitchen table. And guess what? They're looking for help. They're looking for help. They're not looking for more of the same.

[well, I guess he needed to respond to Palin's family life by offering one of his own. but what of his lack of discipline?]

IFILL: Governor?

PALIN: People aren't looking for more of the same. They are looking for change. And John McCain has been the consummate maverick in the Senate over all these years.

He's taken shots left and right from the other party and from within his own party, because he's had to take on his own party when the time was right, when he recognized it was time to put partisanship aside and just do what was right for the American people. That's what I've done as governor, also, take on my own party, when I had to, and work with both sides of the aisle, in my cabinet, appointing those who would serve regardless of party, Democrats, independents, Republicans, whatever it took to get the job done.

Also, John McCain's maverick position that he's in, that's really prompt up to and indicated by the supporters that he has. Look at Lieberman, and Giuliani, and Romney, and Lingle, and all of us who come from such a diverse background of -- of policy and of partisanship, all coming together at this time, recognizing he is the man that we need to leave -- lead in these next four years, because these are tumultuous times.

We have got to win the wars. We have got to get our economy back on track. We have got to not allow the greed and corruption on Wall Street anymore.

And we have not got to allow the partisanship that has really been entrenched in Washington, D.C., no matter who's been in charge. When the Republicans were in charge, I didn't see a lot of progress there, either. When the Democrats, either, though, this last go- around for the last two years.

Change is coming. And John McCain is the leader of that reform.
[nothing substantive offered in her statement. Basically said McCain is a maverick and promised change.]

IFILL: Senator...

BIDEN: I'll be very brief. Can I respond to that?

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.

[wow. Biden at his best. He put the "maverick" claim to rest and it is McCain's fault because he is running as the "maverick" while failing to distance himself from the Bush administration on the economy and foreign policy so when Palin called her presidential running mate a "maverick" Biden saw his opening and he took it.]

Question 23: changing Mind on a Position
IFILL: Final question tonight, before your closing statements, starting with you, Senator Biden. Can you think of a single issue -- and this is to cast light for people who are just trying to get to know you in your final debate, your only debate of this year -- 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?

BIDEN: 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.

IFILL: Governor?

PALIN: There have been times where, as mayor and governor, we have passed budgets that I did not veto and that I think could be considered as something that I quasi-caved in, if you will, but knowing that it was the right thing to do in order to progress the agenda for that year and to work with the legislative body, that body that actually holds the purse strings.

So there were times when I wanted to zero-base budget, and to cut taxes even more, and I didn't have enough support in order to accomplish that.

But on the major principle things, no, there hasn't been something that I've had to compromise on, because we've always seemed to find a way to work together. Up there in Alaska, what we have done is, with bipartisan efforts, is work together and, again, not caring who gets the credit for what, as we accomplish things up there.

And that's been just a part of the operation that I wanted to participate in. And that's what we're going to do in Washington, D.C., also, bring in both sides together. John McCain is known for doing that, also, in order to get the work done for the American people.
[so she wasn't rigid enough or is this just to inoculate herself from charges that she didn't live up to McCain's principles that he, himself broke by passing the bailout plan?]

IFILL: Let's come full circle. You both want to bring both sides together. You both talk about bipartisanship. Once again, we saw what happened this week in Washington. How do you change the tone, as vice president, as number-two?

BIDEN: Well, again, I believe John McCain, were he here -- and this is a dangerous thing to say in the middle of an election -- but he would acknowledge what I'm about to say.

I have been able to work across the aisle on some of the most controversial issues and change my party's mind, as well as Republicans', because I learned a lesson from Mike Mansfield.

Mike Mansfield, a former leader of the Senate, said to me one day -- he -- I made a criticism of Jesse Helms. He said, "What would you do if I told you Jesse Helms and Dot Helms had adopted a child who had braces and was in real need?" I said, "I'd feel like a jerk."

He said, "Joe, understand one thing. Everyone's sent here for a reason, because there's something in them that their folks like. Don't question their motive."

I have never since that moment in my first year questioned the motive of another member of the Congress or Senate with whom I've disagreed. I've questioned their judgment.

I think that's why I have the respect I have and have been able to work as well as I've been able to have worked in the United States Senate. That's the fundamental change Barack Obama and I will be bring to this party, not questioning other people's motives.

IFILL: Governor?

PALIN: You do what I did as governor, and you appoint people regardless of party affiliation, Democrats, independents, Republicans. You -- you walk the walk; you don't just talk the talk.

And even in my own family, it's a very diverse family. And we have folks of all political persuasion in there, also, so I've grown up just knowing that, you know, at the end of the day, as long as we're all working together for the greater good, it's going to be OK.

But the policies and the proposals have got to speak for themselves, also. And, again, voters on November 4th are going to have that choice to either support a ticket that supports policies that create jobs.

You do that by lowering taxes on American workers and on our businesses. And you build up infrastructure, and you rein in government spending, and you make our -- our nation energy independent.

Or you support a ticket that supports policies that will kill jobs by increasing taxes. And that's what the track record shows, is a desire to increase taxes, increase spending, a trillion-dollar spending proposal that's on the table. That's going to hurt our country, and saying no to energy independence. Clear choices on November 4th.

IFILL: Governor Palin, you get the chance to make the first closing statement.

PALIN: Well, again, Gwen, I do want to thank you and the commission. This is such an honor for me.

And I appreciate, too, Senator Biden, getting to meet you, finally, also, and getting to debate with you. And I would like more opportunity for this.

I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media kind of telling viewers what they've just heard. I'd rather be able to just speak to the American people like we just did.

And it's so important that the American people know of the choices that they have on November 4th.

I want to assure you that John McCain and I, we're going to fight for America. We're going to fight for the middle-class, average, everyday American family like mine.

I've been there. I know what the hurts are. I know what the challenges are. And, thank God, I know what the joys are, too, of living in America. We are so blessed. And I've always been proud to be an American. And so has John McCain.

We have to fight for our freedoms, also, economic and our national security freedoms.

It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don't pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we're going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children's children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free.

We will fight for it, and there is only one man in this race who has really ever fought for you, and that's Senator John McCain.

IFILL: Thank you, Governor. Senator Biden.

BIDEN: Gwen, thank you for doing this, and the commission, and Governor, it really was a pleasure getting to meet you.

Look, folks, this is the most important election you've ever voted in your entire life. No one can deny that the last eight years, we've been dug into a very deep hole here at home with regard to our economy, and abroad in terms of our credibility. And there's a need for fundamental change in our economic philosophy, as well as our foreign policy.

And Barack Obama and I don't measure progress toward that change based on whether or not we cut more regulations and how well CEOs are doing, or giving another $4 billion in tax breaks to the Exxon Mobils of the world.

We measure progress in America based on whether or not someone can pay their mortgage, whether or not they can send their kid to college, whether or not they're able to, when they send their child, like we have abroad -- or I'm about to, abroad -- and John has as well, I might add -- to fight, that they are the best equipped and they have everything they need. And when they come home, they're guaranteed that they have the best health care and the best education possible.

You know, in the neighborhood I grew up in, it was all about dignity and respect. A neighborhood like most of you grew up in. And in that neighborhood, it was filled with women and men, mothers and fathers who taught their children if they believed in themselves, if they were honest, if they worked hard, if they loved their country, they could accomplish anything. We believed it, and we did.

That's why Barack Obama and I are running, to re-establish that certitude in our neighborhoods.

Ladies and gentlemen, my dad used to have an expression. He'd say, "champ, when you get knocked down, get up."

Well, it's time for America to get up together. America's ready, you're ready, I'm ready, and Barack Obama is ready to be the next president of the United States of America.

May God bless all of you, and most of all, for both of us, selfishly, may God protect our troops.

IFILL: That ends tonight's debate. We want to thank the folks here at Washington University in St. Louis, and the Commission on Presidential Debates.

There are two more debates to come. Next Tuesday, October 7th, with Tom Brokaw at Belmont University in Nashville, and on October 15th at Hofstra University in New York, with Bob Schieffer.

Thank you, Governor Palin and Senator Biden. Good night, everybody.

* President
* Running Mates
* Convention Speeches
* Debates
o Sept. 26: First Presidential
o Oct. 2: Vice-Presidential