For those of you (a record VP Debate crowd of 50+ million, nationwide) who filled the bars and living rooms of the tough, wounded, on-the-edge United States of America, you already know what happened.
After a devastating two weeks in which she imploded her own popularity, even with Republicans, and threatened to implode the one-heart-beat-away GOP ticket, all VP wannabe Sarah Palin had to do last night was not mess up. It was a low bar, and she proved up to the challenge. She could evade direct questions, a la Dubya, which she did consistently last night—and it wouldn’t cost her. Since the format (as negotiated by both camps) didn’t allow direct exchanges, and Biden had to answer half the questions first, there was little danger than she actually had to be spontaneous, or as she was over the last week find herself at a loss for facts, or words.
For a real report, skip all this and click here.
On the other hand, here’s something obvious but thus far mostly unreported: only three political figures in this four-ticket race have shared the spotlight: Obama, McCain and Palin. So just the fact that Biden got to stand up there under the microscope and come off as his usual affable, heart-first, deeply knowledgeable, old-school (and, I thought, Presidential) self last night was huge for him. There’s no way even Republicans can think he’s not ready to serve as President, even if they of course disagree with most of his views.
On a personal level, I’m finally off-press–the latest issue of elephant journal, my magazine, is officially out on the streets, stands and in the yoga studios, Whole Foods etc–so last night represented one of my first nights out on the town in a few months. I got a late start, however, so turned on my telly at home, and got to of course concentrate, hear everything properly, and saw that it was gonna be a tight night.
Finally, seeing that there were no commercial interruptions, I made a break for it during Palin’s Global Warming answer, or lack-of-answer, seeing as how I’ve heard it with Couric and others over the last weeks. I biked as fast as I could down the desolate (no cars out on the town) black night and flew up to Red Fish, a normally chill bar, where literally hundreds of folks filled both rooms, with 10 or so TVs lit up and the crowd oohing and ahhhing and shouting and gabbing as if it were a fireworks show. Of course, being in Boulder, Republicans stay home for fear of getting their fat cat asses kicked–so the crowd was uniformly sane. I mean, liberal: whatever Palin said (as when she proudly mentioned ‘women’s rights’, which McCain has voted against in the form of the Equal Pay Amendment, and of course they’re both for overturning Roe v Wade, which they’ll be able to do if they get to appoint even one Supreme Court Justice) met with jeers and derisive laughter. Biden hit some homeruns, excepting when he called Bosnians “Bosniacs,” but the best gaffe of the night was when Palin, wearing enough layers of make-up to poison Wasilla’s water supply, implored the crowd to “let McCain leave. I mean, lead.”
I saw two dozen old friends, many of whom it’s not fun to see; this is the last issue of elephant so half the folks I see greet me with funereal smiles, that kind of “wow seeing you makes me sad, but I’m going to smile so I don’t make you even more depressed than you must be.” I wore my old Dean trucker hat pulled down low, kept myself cushioned with a few true friends, and made it through the hard-to-hear crowded-bar debate-watch with a big, genuine, happy smile on my face. It’s great to see the community, any community, get excited about politics. I remember pre-Jon Stewart and pre-Dubya when liberals were too cool, too aloof, to vote for anyone but Jesus or Buddha or Gandhi or MLK Jr. himself. Remember when Gore was “the better of two bad choices,” and half my loser friends voted for Nader, giving Dubya the edge he needed? Well, only 8 years later, we’ve grown up. We know we won’t get a perfect candidate. We’ll settle for one with a good heart, a strong mind, a confident, settled demeanor and a genuine caring for our troubled, wonderful nation.
Later, I went to Hapa where my friends had not-particularly-sustainably harvested, mercury-laden sushi and I ate a bunch of non-organic rice and edamame with a big flask of hot, cheap sake. We sat on the downtown Pearl St. Mall, thoroughly enjoying our (personally-speaking) utterly tired, empty selves. Later later, I went to Upstairs at the Kitchen, where I said hello to half the bar, including an old Buddhist pal from 1999 Seminary at Shambhala Mountain Center, and a bunch of cute young ladies and their boys, and my ol’Buddhist mentor Jeff Waltcher…finally I sat with my friends, off away at a table by the window overlooking the night-shrouded (you like that? how poetic) mountains and Boulder’s famous Flatirons (our equivalent to the Empire State Building, the Flatirons are our unofficial logo). Bored with my friends, who were full of energy and life, while all I could think about was my dog, needing to go pee back at the ranch, I bullshitted for a few and then rode up the Hill into the proverbial sunset.
For more, go to youtube.com. Bonus:
New York Times: Palin Health Care Claim “Inaccurate On Several Levels.” “Ms. Palin castigated Mr. Obama’s health care plan as one that would be mandate a ‘universal government-run’ system in which health care is ‘taken over’ by the federal government. This is inaccurate on several levels. Mr. Obama’s proposal includes an option for people to choose a new public plan with benefits similar to what members of Congress and other federal employees currently have. It also includes an expansion of Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, but it is not at all exclusively government-run. Mr. Obama’s plan also only mandates that children, not adults, have coverage. [New York Times, 10/2/08: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/02/check-point-the-vice-presidential-debate/]
FactCheck.org: Palin Health Care Claim “False.” “Palin said that Obama’s plan would be ‘government run’ and would mandate health care. The first claim is false, as we’ve said before. Obama’s plan would increase the offerings of publicly funded health care, but would not replace or remove private insurance, or require people to enroll in a public plan. The second claim leaves out important information. Obama’s plan would mandate health coverage for children, but not for adults.” [FactCheck.org, 10/2/08: http://wire.factcheck.org/2008/10/02/socialized-medicine/]
Politifact.com: Obama’s Plan Does Not Call For Government-Run Health Care. “At the vice presidential debate in St. Louis, Mo., Sarah Palin defended John McCain’s health care plan and criticized Barack Obama’s. Obama has a plan ‘to mandate health care coverage and have a universal government run program,’ Palin said. ‘And unless you’re pleased with the way the federal government has been running anything lately, I don’t think that it’s going to be real pleasing for Americans to consider health care being taken over by the feds.’ Problem is, Obama’s plan keeps the free-market health care system intact, particularly employer-based insurance. It is not a goverment-run program and is very different from the health care systems run by the government in some European countries… So Palin is mostly wrong about Obama’s plan having a mandate; it only has one for children. He would like it to be universal at some point. She also emphasized that Obama proposes government-run health care, a statement that is completely inaccurate.” [POLITIFACT.com, 10/2/08: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/765/]
Washington Post Fact Checker: Palin Claim That Biden Supported McCain Policies “Flatly False.” “Sarah Palin just asserted that Sen. Joseph Biden backed John McCain’s military policies until this presidential race. That is flatly false. Biden was an outspoken opponent of President Bush’s troop increases in Iraq as soon as Bush announced them after the 2006 elections. As Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, he led the most heated hearings before the troops were actually deployed.” [Washington Post Fact Checker Blog, 10/02/08: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/]
FactCheck.org: Palin Repeats “Old Canard” About Energy Bill. “Palin threw out an old canard when she criticized Obama for voting for the 2005 Energy bill, saying, “that’s what gave those oil companies those big tax breaks.” It’s a false attack Clinton used against Obama in the primary and McCain himself has hurled. It’s true that the bill gave some tax breaks to oil companies, but it also took away others. And according to the Congressional Research Service, the bill created a slight net increase in taxes for the oil industry.” [FactCheck.org, 10/2/08: http://wire.factcheck.org/2008/10/02/2005-energy-bill-deja-vu/]
AP: Despite Claiming to Have “Taken On” the Oil Industry, Palin on Same Side As American Petroleum Institute, Big Oil on Key Issues. “PALIN: Claimed she has taken on the oil industry as Alaska governor. THE FACTS: Palin pushed to impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies and distributed the proceeds to the state’s citizens to offset rising energy costs. However, she has also sided with the industry on a number of issues. She sued the Interior Department over its designation of polar bears as an endangered species. That puts her on the same side as the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s chief trade association. She also supports the industry’s desire to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – a position at odds with McCain.” [AP, 10/02/08: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/D/DEBATE_FACT_CHECK?SITE=AZTUS&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT]
AP: Palin Exaggerates Pipeline Claim. “PALIN: Said Alaska is ‘building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline, which is North America’s largest and most expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets.’ THE FACTS: Not quite. Construction is at least six years away. So far the state has only awarded a license to Trans Canada Corp., that comes with $500 million in seed money in exchange for commitments toward a lengthy and costly process to getting a federal certificate. At an August news conference after the state Legislature approved the license, Palin said, ‘It’s not a done deal.'” [AP, 10/02/08: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/D/DEBATE_FACT_CHECK?SITE=AZTUS&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT]
Washington Post Fact Checker: Palin Overstates Impact of Increased Oil Production. “Gov. Palin suggested that the nearly $700 billion the U.S. spends a year on imported oil could be replaced by domestic sources. CNNMoney.com took estimates from various government agencies to conclude that crude oil production could be increased at most between 1 and 3 million barrels per day, on top of the 5 million barrels a year already produced domestically. The United States currently consumes about 20 million barrels annually, so an expansion of domestic drilling would make barely a dent in that amount unless consumption also is reduced.” [Washington Post Fact Checker Blog, 10/02/08: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/]
ABC News: Palin “Got Her Facts Wrong” on Homeowner Protections. “Sarah Palin got her facts wrong in Thursday’s debate with Joe Biden when discussing where John McCain stands on new protections for homeowners facing foreclosures. The Alaska governor incorrectly made it sound like McCain supports giving bankruptcy judges the power to rewrite mortgage payment terms on first homes. He doesn’t.” [ABC News, 10/03/08: http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/10/palin-misstates.html]
Washington Post Fact Checker: Palin Falsely Says Troops are Now at Pre-Surge Levels. “Gov. Sarah Palin was erroneous when she claimed U.S. troop levels in Iraq are now at ‘pre-surge’ levels. When President Bush announced last month that he would withdraw an additional 8,000 U.S. troops over the coming months, he committed to leaving at least 138,000 troops in the country at the end of his presidency, 3,000 more than there were before the troop increases known now as ‘the surge.'” [Washington Post Fact Checker Blog, 10/02/08: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/]
CNN: Palin Surge Claim “False.” “During the vice-presidential debate in St. Louis on Thursday, Oct. 2, Republican nominee Gov. Sarah Palin criticized Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s opposition to the military ‘surge’ in Iraq and said, ‘The surge worked. Barack Obama still can’t admit the surge works.’ …The Verdict: False. Obama has said the surge “succeeded beyond our wildest dreams” from a military perspective.” [CNN.com. 10/2/08: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/10/02/fact-check-is-it-true-obama-still-cant-admit-the-surge-works/]
Fact Check.org: Obama Did Not Vote Against Troop Funding. “Palin repeated the claim that Obama “voted against funding our troops.” The claim refers to a single 2007 vote against a war funding bill. Obama voted for a version of the bill that included language calling for withdrawing troops from Iraq. President Bush vetoed it. (McCain supported that veto, but didn’t call it “vetoing support for our troops.”) What Obama voted against was the same bill without withdrawal language. And he had voted yes on at least 10 other war funding bills prior to that single 2007 no vote.” [FactCheck.org, 10/2/08: http://wire.factcheck.org/2008/10/02/obama-voted-against-troop-funding/]
AP: Palin Claim About Troop Levels in Iraq “Not Correct.” “PALIN: Said the United States has reduced its troop level in Iraq to a number below where it was when the troop increase began in early 2007. THE FACTS: Not correct. The Pentagon says there are currently 152,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, about 17,000 more than there were before the 2007 military buildup began. PALIN: ‘Two years ago, remember, it was John McCain who pushed so hard with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform measures. He sounded that warning bell.’ THE FACTS: Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska led an effort in 2005 to tighten regulation on the mortgage underwriters – McCain joined as a co-sponsor a year later. The legislation was never taken up by the full Senate, then under Republican control.” [AP, 10/02/08: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/D/DEBATE_FACT_CHECK?SITE=AZTUS&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT]
Washington Post Fact Checker: Palin Tax Hike Claims “Untrue.” “Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin signaled early she would go after Barack Obama all night on the charge that he had voted 94 times to either raise taxes or fight against tax cuts. Fact check.org, a non-partisan watchdog, has analyzed the charge. Of the 94, 23 of those votes were indeed votes against proposed tax cuts. Eleven of them were increases on families earning over $1 million to help fund programs such as Head Start and school nutrition. And 53 were on non-binding budget resolutions that foresaw allowing tax cuts to expire as scheduled. Such out-year projections are meaningless, since non-binding budgets are passed each year. Fact.check.org ruled the claim misleading. On another point, Palin said a tax hike that hits earners over $250,000 would hit ‘millions of small businesses.’ That is untrue. The vast majority of small businesses barely break even and do not pay the top tax brackets. To get that figure, Republicans count affluent taxpayers who claim some income from some small business income as ‘small businessmen.'” [Washington Post Fact Checker Blog, 10/02/08: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/]
Washington Post Fact Checker: Palin Repeats False Tax Hike for Families Making $42,000 Claim. “Sarah Palin repeated John McCain’s claim that Barack Obama voted to increase taxes for every American earning more than $42,000 a year. This is a considerable stretch. Obama voted for a non-binding budget resolution that laid down general budgetary guidelines based on the assumption that the Bush tax cuts will expire, as scheduled, in 2011. The budget resolution did not represent a vote to raise taxes. Obama has said that he is in favor of continuing the Bush tax cuts for all but the wealthiest Americans.” [Washington Post Fact Checker Blog, 10/02/08: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/]
FactCheck.org: Palin Got Troop Levels “Wrong.” “Palin got her numbers wrong on troop levels when she said that troops were now down to “pre-surge” levels. The surge was announced in January 2007, at which point there were 132,000 troops in Iraq according to the Brookings Institute Iraq Index. As of September 2008, that number was 146,000. President Bush recently announced that another 8,000 would be coming home by February of next year. But that would still be 6,000 more than when the surge began.” [FactCheck.org, 10/2/08: http://wire.factcheck.org/2008/10/02/troop-levels-off/]
FactCheck.org: Palin Repeats “Several False Claims” on Taxes. “Palin repeated several false claims about Obama’s tax policies. Obama did not in fact vote to increase taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 per year. What Obama actually voted for was a budget resolution that called for returning the 25 percent tax bracket to its pre-Bush tax cut level of 28 percent. That could have affected an individual with no children making as little as $42,000. But a couple would have had to earn $83,000 to be affected and a family of four at least $90,000. Palin also repeated the exaggeration that Obama voted 94 times to increase taxes. That number includes seven votes that would have lowered some taxes, 23 that were against tax cuts, and 17 that came on just seven different bills. And finally, it’s false that Biden and Obama voted for ‘the largest tax increase in history.’ Palin is referring here to the Democrats’ 2008 budget proposal, which would indeed have resulted in about $217 billion in higher taxes over two years. That’s a significant increase. But measured as a percentage of GDP, the yardstick that most economists prefer, the 2008 budget proposal would have been the third-largest since 1968, and it’s not even in the top 10 since 1940.” [FactCheck.org, 10/2/08: http://wire.factcheck.org/2008/10/02/tax-distortions/]
New York Times: Palin’s Small Business Tax Hike Claim Overstated. Ms. Palin said “millions of small businesses” would pay higher taxes under Mr. Obama’s tax plan, pointing to the increases for “those making $250,000 a year or more.” Mr. Obama’s plan would affect couples making more than $250,000 or singles making more than $200,000. Many small-business owners actually pay taxes as individuals, not as corporations. But Factcheck.org cited a projection by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center that 663,608 taxpayers with business income would fall into the top two tax brackets in 2009 and, therefore, be affected by the Obama tax plan. Not all of these, however, would be properly considered “small business owners.” Some are simply those who get income in from real-estate partnerships or other investment arrangements. In other words, the actual number of small businessmen who would be affected by Obama tax plan is likely even smaller than that number, not “millions.” [New York Times, 10/2/08: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/02/check-point-the-vice-presidential-debate/]
New York Times: Palin Increased Wasilla Sales Tax. “Governor Palin said she reduced taxes when she was mayor of Wasilla, from 1996 to 2002. The city did eliminate property taxes, but she also pushed through a half-cent sales tax increase to pay for a $15 million sports complex. That increase followed a 2-cent sales tax initiated by her predecessor that helped the city expand its police force and pay for other new services. Ms. Palin also said she eliminated a business inventory tax. She did, and that move is credited with bringing many large chain stores to Wasilla.” [New York Times, 10/2/08: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/02/check-point-the-vice-presidential-debate/]
New York Times: On Taxes, Palin “Made Claims About Senator Obama’s Policies That Are Not Correct. “In addressing the issues of taxes, Governor Palin has made claims about Senator Obama’s policies that are not correct. She revived, for example, an accusation that he and Mr. Biden voted “for the largest tax increases in U.S. history” and also charged that he would raise taxes “for those families making only $42,000 a year. Mr. Obama voted twice this year in favor of a budget resolution that would have allowed the tax cuts that President Bush pushed through Congress in 2001 and 2003 to expire at the end of 2010, as the original law mandated. But that, by the definition of the Congressional Budget Office and other tax experts, does not constitute a tax increase. The resolution, if not accompanied by other tax changes, envisages an increase in taxes for an individual earning $42,000 a year who has no dependents and owns no real estate. But it would not apply to a family. Indeed, estimates are that a family of four making as much as $90,000 would not see a tax increase.” [New York Times, 10/2/08: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/02/check-point-the-vice-presidential-debate/]
AP: Palin Repeats “Dubious Count” of Tax Votes. “PALIN: Said of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama: ’94 times he voted to increase taxes or not support a tax reduction.’ THE FACTS: The dubious count includes repetitive votes as well as votes to cut taxes for the middle class while raising them on the rich. An analysis by factcheck.org found that 23 of the votes were for measures that would have produced no tax increase at all, seven were in favor of measures that would have lowered taxes for many, 11 would have increased taxes on only those making more than $1 million a year.” [AP, 10/02/08: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/D/DEBATE_FACT_CHECK?SITE=AZTUS&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT]
New York Time: Palin’s Claim About McCain on Fannie and Freddie Not Accurate. “Gov. Sarah Palin boasted that Mr. McCain ‘sounded that warning bell’ about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, echoing some of Mr. McCain’s recent comments in which he portrayed himself as being on the vanguard in warning about the impending financial crisis. Ms. Palin was referring to Mr. McCain’s decision in 2006 to sign on as a co-sponsor of a Senate bill that would have overhauled regulations governing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But the legislation was introduced more than 16 months earlier and the debate over the issue had been going on for some time. He also only added his name after an oversight agency issued a lengthy report condemning practices at Fannie Mae.” [New York Times, 10/2/08: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/02/check-point-the-vice-presidential-debate/]