Your daily Palin: Debate response edition

What people are saying about Thursday night's V.P. debate.

By Kate Harding
Published October 3, 2008 2:33PM (EDT)

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me during Thursday night's debate was that my friend Jeanie and I went nearly 45 whole minutes before getting Palin bingo. (It was on card 4, straight down the middle.) We'd decided bingo would be easier on our livers than Feministe's debate drinking game, which was a good call, because we both would have passed out within 20 minutes, based on this rule alone: "Refill your glass whenever Palin says 'Well, hey,' 'You know,' or 'You betcha' in an inexplicable Minnesota (or is it Wisconsin?) accent. Refill again every time she leaves the 'g' off the end of words (changin', makin', goin', etc)." As Thomas Schaller said while live-blogging the debate for War Room, "Ya, ya, ya, ya ... it sounds like a scene from Fargo. No offense to Midwesterners, but she is overdoing it a bit, ya think? (You betcha.)" Midwesterner here, not offended. Just sad that the bingo cards had no square for "channels Marge Gunderson."

What, you want more substantive responses? All right. Earlier, Schaller mused, regarding Palin's "folksiness," "Does it undermine her seriousness or does it make her more accessible? My gut says women cringe because it makes her look less serious, like she has to be cutesy and cheeky to be likable. But I wonder if men find it attractive because of their own gender lens." Yikes, I was way too busy cringing to even consider whether men found it attractive, but he might have a point. Readers?

Joan Walsh noted that "we could be in for a few days of pro-Palin commentary, since her subjects and verbs corresponded" (hee!), but thinks Palin "lost the debate when Biden choked up over losing his wife and child in a car accident in which his sons were critically injured -- and she went straight back into 'John McCain is a maverick.' I truly expected her to express human sympathy with Biden, and her failure to do so showed me something deeply wrong with her. But maybe that's just me." It's not just you, Joan.

Granted, Palin was in a tough position because Biden had just schooled her but good, and acknowledging his point would have prolonged her embarrassment. But she could have scored two points by expressing sympathy like a decent human being and then shifting into a conservative-friendly comment on how important fathers are, family values, blah blah blah. Instead, she looked both thoughtless and defeated by one of Biden's strongest moments, which Leah McElrath Renna at the Huffington Post called "the strongest expression of real paternal love we have seen from a public official in recent memory and maybe ever." Renna adds that by bringing up his struggles as a grieving single father -- in a way that, miraculously, seemed completely appropriate and not exploitive -- "Biden demonstrated that -- for all of us, not just feminists -- the personal is political, that women alone do not have the sole responsibility for caring about the future of our children and that the concern of fathers is a largely untapped pool of political energy." Oh, hell yeah. If Palin had seen the opportunity to make that point, she might even have impressed me, let alone her base.

Finally, I can't resist quoting this section of the Feministing live-blog chat among four of the site's editors:

10:02 Samhita: Yes, Palin tell us about your knowledge of Bosnia and Darfur.

10:02 Courtney: She can't see Darfur from Alaska, Samhita.

10:05 Jessica: Would she charge Darfur rape victims for their kits, or just Alaskans?

10:05 Ann: The Darfuris pay double, Jess.

Sometimes, you have to laugh so you don't cry. Only one more sleep till we find out what Tina Fey's response is!

Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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