Biden-Palin pre-game thoughts

Some final observations before the big matchup the world will be watching.

By Thomas Schaller
Published October 3, 2008 12:45AM (EDT)

Before the debate and Salon's live-blogging begins, some final pre-debate thoughts:

  • Expectations may be so low for Sarah Palin at this point that she would almost have to try not to reach them. But she’s plucky, so I don’t want to misunderestimate her ability to still come up with a “vast variety” of ways to fall short.
  • Palin may have more personally at stake than helping or hurting the Republican 2008 ticket. As Dan Balz of the Washington Post aptly notes, also at stake is “what kind of future she may have in the Republican Party.”
  • Whatever happens, interest should be high, and not just here stateside. The BBC, for example, is streaming the debate live. The world is watching.
  • Joe Biden has almost no upside. He was selected from the very beginning as the “Hippocratic oath candidate”: His job tonight, as it has been from his moment of arrival in Denver, is to do no harm, with whatever upside he contributes merely gravy. Tonight that means staying out of the way and, in general, not giving the GOP the one thing they want most: a sympathy moment for Sarah Palin they can use, much as they did four years ago after the third of three otherwise horrible performances by George W. Bush, by slamming John Kerry for his reference to Dick Cheney’s gay daughter.
  • You know where you can go for some great pre-game analysis? Not far at all: As usual, our own, incomparable Walter Shapiro has a great column previewing the big matchup.

Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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2008 Elections Joe Biden Sarah Palin War Room