Palin vs. Biden: Robo-Mom vs. Uncle Joe

I watched the webcast in Ireland among a group of incorrigibly liberal American hipsters and artists (they thought McCain was the “best pick” of the Republican candidates – I know, I know, I want to weep…), some Irish, and a Latin American; they abandoned any pretense of drinking games early on and just made their way through a bottle of strange Polish “bison vodka” as the debate went on.

Palin didn’t crater (as they hoped). It was obvious that she was heavily tutored in predigested answers to regurgitate at the mention of certain key-words or themes.

An argument broke out (well, one drunk guy against everyone else) at the end: whether this shtick would work with the undecided voters she was meant to appeal to. We settled it democratically (we shouted him down repeatedly).

The key moment of the debate for me, that changed the entire context of both performances, was when Biden momentarily choked up when discussing single-parenthood. It came across as almost embarrasingly authentic and unexpected. What did Palin do in response? She rattled on obliviously as Robo-Mom, with her predigested answers and rehearsed mannerisms. Whatever else about Biden, he at least seemed to establish some sort of emotional bridge in that one moment as an actual warm human being, whereas she just marched relentlessly on like some sort of pretty, preprogrammed PTA cyborg.

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