U.S. Sen. Joe Biden

Ad Wars: Ladies and Gentlemen

Joe "The Vice Presidential Candidate" Biden is known for his big mouth, and when Barack Obama chose him as his running mate, the campaign was surely including in their calculations the good odds that Biden would say something silly before election day.  He did, and, all things considered, I don't think it was that bad. 

Still, the McCain campaign pounced on it, and cooked up this ad, which manages to make the prospect of an "international crisis" sound pretty scary. This, I would say, is a quintessential example of the use of fear as a political weapon.  A voter who's scared into voting for you is just the same as a voter who picks you for other reasons.



Your Guide to the VP Debate

As the hour of the Vice Presidential debate approaches, the web has been flooded by all manner of analysis, punditry and bloggery (plus the occasional piece of news). We're here to offer you a guide  to the madness so you know what to expect and can impress your date during pre-debate cocktails.

The big question is: How will Sarah Palin fare?  Her previous public appearances have been mixed. At the Republican National Convention, she killed. As Sam Harris wrote in Newsweek, her speech was extraordinarily effective political communication.

Since that day she has been in constant decline. First came her interview with Charlie Gibson and the "Bush Doctrine" gaffe, then over the past week she's taken major blows as her damning serialized interview with Katie Couric has aired. After double lampoonings on SNL, Palin is on the verge of becoming nothing more than a laughing stock to many. See Simon's link to TPM for video of Sarah's greatest hits.

But debates are a different game, and Palin has had success in the past. The LA Times reports that she ought not be underestimated: She keeps it simple and is irresistably charming. The NY Times, likewise, says that though she's often unclear in her answers, she appears confident and wins viewers. This debate could be her chance to recover some of the ground she's lost.

The Obama camp will not be underestimating her. Campaign manager David Plouffe called Palin a "terrific debater," and said he expects she'll perform well against Joe Biden. Nobody knows her skills better than Andrew Halcro, who faced her when they both ran for governor of Alaska. He describes her as a "master of the nonanswer," but says that if she can "fill the room with her presence," she may do well. Even Joe Biden has said that she looks "pretty doggone confident."

Biden comes into the debate with some concerns of his own. As the Washington Post wrote yesterday, "letting Biden be Biden" has occasional downsides: He has a freewheeling style, and when he runs with it, he can make mistakes. The NY Times also discusses his "legendary loquatiousness," making the point that, debating a woman, Biden runs the danger of looking like a bully. According to the Financial Times, the Obama campaign is training Biden to avoid verbal missteps.

There has been controversy surrounding debate host Gwen Ifill. Because she is currently writing a book about Barack Obama, among other new black politicians, some Republican pundits have cried bias.  Marc Ambinder thinks this is nonsense, and Ifill herself has dismissed the concerns.

George Bush and Geraldine Ferraro, who faced off in the first male vs. female VP debate in 1984, reminisce about their experience and offer their thoguhts the Palin-Biden matchup.

Michael Tomasky of the Guardian gives his forecast for tomorrow night in a fun video.

Roger Simon at Politico provides 10 ready-made answers to Sarah Palin. Respond to any question with ease!

And if it's all getting too serious for you, Newsweek invites you to play VP bingo.

New Ads from McCain Hit Obama on Economy

A pair of ads from the McCain campaign attempt to recover some of the losses that McCain has suffered in the polls this week after getting thrashed by the Obama campaign on the economy.

"Advice" criticizes Barack Obama for taking advice on the economy from Franklin Raines, former chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae.  You can guess why that might be a bad thing, but  the Washington Post-- the source cited in the ad's attacks on Raines-- reports that the connection between Obama and Raines is much more tenuous than the add would lead you to believe.



"Patriotic Act" goes after Joe Biden for his suggestion that paying higher taxes was a patriotic thing to do. This ad, at least, is based on something Biden actually said.



Seems to me that after landing a lot of punches last week, John McCain has been forced to backpedal all week, and is playing defense on the economy.

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