Yes, I know, while sequels can sometimes be OK, threequels almost always suck (I’ll hope it’s more Bourne Ultimatum than Goldmember) but here goes. I think we should go into the VP debate with low expectations for Joe Biden. It’s not his fault – he’s just in a complete no-win situation. 

You all know and dread what’s going to happen: Sarah Palin will show up with everybody believing she’ll be completely clueless. Then she’ll basically do the political debating equivalent of cramming before an exam in a subject you’ve skipped half the lectures for. She’ll have been studying hard and getting instruction in foreign policy issues. She’ll show up and display a basic understanding of them and pad her limited knowledge out with lots of “folksy common sense” , say “guys and gals” a lot and at one point will say something along the lines of “we have a saying in Alaska…”. She’ll also use sensible sounding but practically meaningless generalising platitudes like “the terrorists must not win”, “we will bring democracy to those who want it” or “America is a beacon of hope” and as long as she doesn’t mention her views on witchcraft, everybody will rave about how unexpectedly well she did and she’ll be a star all over again.

Poor old Joe – he’ll just look grey and boring beside her. Because of the agreed format of the debate, he may not get an opportunity to challenge her. Unless he does an equivalent of what McCain did in the presidential debate, ignores the agreed format and challenge her anyway. And if he does this, the Republicans will bleat about how he broke the agreement and viciously attacked their Golden Girl. We all know from recent days how easily offended Republicans are (more on that tomorrow). So perhaps it’s best that the format doesn’t allow direct exchanges. Picture it: Palin makes a nasty, snide comment dressed up as feisty, regular small-town girl straight talk, Biden snaps back angrily and suddenly it’s Biden the Bully.

So the best thing for Biden to do is just focus on his own game – clearly and concisely communicate his legislative and foreign policy experience and most importantly passionately put forward the Obama/Biden vision for America – after that just hope for the best. Who knows, maybe nobody will take notice of the Vice-presidential debate. Can’t we just put a Paris Hilton reality show on MTV at the same time? Nobody would watch then.


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