General Question

EmpressPixie's avatar

Tonight's debate: the moderator, expectations, and you.

Asked by EmpressPixie (14721points) October 2nd, 2008

For the past few days, the Republicans (specifically the McCain camp) have been attacking the neutrality of Gwen Ifill as a moderator, despite having given her the green light when moderators were first being picked. What do you think about this? Is it a good tactic to take or just kind of sleazy? If the moderator is viewed as being on Biden’s side, does it make it easier for Palin to come out of the debate ahead? At this point does Palin have to do much more than show up and be coherent to “win” based on the expectations driven by the Couric and Gibson interviews?

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47 Answers

delirium's avatar

I suddenly understand people and sports.

I’m so excited for the debate I could prance around with glee!

Snoopy's avatar

@EP It is my understanding that the issues w/ the moderator appeared after her initial approval as it was only just recently discovered that she is writing a book entitled Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama

I cannot imagine that the Obama camp would not have similar concerns if they found that a moderator was writing a book featuring McCain in a positive light.

All that being said, I would presume that as a professional journalist that she can maintain her neutrality.

fireside's avatar

I think all the attention is specifically for one purpose: to shame Gwen Ifill into being a bit more forgiving and allowing Palin a bit of extra time to get her points across.

Ifill also moderated the Cheney-Edwards debate 4 years ago and one of the big issues was when VP Cheney said he would need more than 30 seconds to respond to a point that had been made. She told him, “Well, that’s all you have.”

I am sure that Palin will come out of the debate having shown competence on her command of the issues, but not expertise. It will be easy enough to spin that she had weeks to prepare for this one moment in the spotlight, so I don’t think it will change anything either way.

There was an interview with her recently where she said that she didn’t just have one debate coach, she had a whole lot of people telling her about the records of Obama and Biden. So, I’m sure that her main focus will be to poke holes in what Biden says and to toss out some jabs.

If I have time later, i’ll look for the videos and interviews.

rawpixels's avatar

Before Bush, I considered myself a Republican. I favor low taxes, limited spending, accountability for welfare recipients, in favor of the death penalty in certain cases, against affirmative action, pro-choice, in favor of legalization of marijuana, etc. I also think going into Iraq was a massive blunder.

McCain has proven himself to be a joke. He seems to be willing to say/do anything in order to get elected. His pick of Sarah Palin for VP was an extremely poor choice, and he will most likely lose the election based on his irresponsible choice. I’m more informed and knowledgeable than her.

For the first time in my life, I plan to vote for a Democrat. Obama will surely win next month.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@Snoopy: From something I read (that I’m still trying to find to drag in) they knew about the book when they green-lighted her.

PupnTaco's avatar

They’re pre-emptively trying to lodge complaints and lower expectations. Palin = political suicide.

I have popcorn & candy ready, it’s gonna be a most entertaining trainwreck!

fireside's avatar

Here is an announcement about Ifill’s book from July of this year.

The fact that this is all in the press now is another big distraction from the real issues.

delirium's avatar

Pixel: I can respect that. I can respect true republican politics… its this neo-conservative BS that bothers me.

Snoopy's avatar

@fireside et al I believe the debates tonight are structured so that they essentially only communicate w/ the moderator….no cross communication.

@rawpixels Unfortunately for McCain, he has no hope of getting elected unless he can get the far right on his side. To that end, he is walking the fence as all politicians will, to please as many people as possible. Like it or not, it is what it is…

Both Republicans and Democrats have their core base. If they can’t carry them, the people in the middle aren’t enough to push them over the top.

dalepetrie's avatar

Unfortunately, the “debate” is really a farce anyway, and possibly in more ways than one. First off, regarding the book, it was known before both sides agreed to her that she was writing a book. And to be honest, Obama would have nothing to lose by letting them change moderators if it came to that, but it won’t. It’s just another Tonya Harding like move by the McCain camp to take any advantages they can and then whine for a second chance when things don’t go there way. The people who should REALLY be mad are Democrats and Obama supporters, because this debate isn’t really a debate at all…it’s a side by side Q&A session.

In order to get the McCain camp to agree to the debates, they had to essentially structure it so the candidates don’t even address each other. There is not supposed to be any “real” back and forth. The question is asked of one candidate, then the other, no follow up, no debate, no back and forth. WTF?

And yes, they’ve set the bar IMPOSSIBLY low. I believe someone said that a puke free night is a win for Palin. Because politics is an expectations game, and after the Couric interview, everyone expects Palin to sound a bit like Miss South Carolina Teen 2007. As long as she doesn’t freak out and run off stage, she’ll be fine. In fact, I’m still a bit worried. I harbor the fear that based on her gubenatorial debates, maybe she’s a bit more adept than people give her credit for. And she will indeed go on the attack (and as the format doesn’t really allow for a back and forth, Biden will have a hard time defending himself without coming off like he’s too angry). I think they will send the pitbull out in full lipstick, and she’ll be far more agressive than anyone expected, and she’ll hope that she can get Biden in one of those Gotcha moments she and McCain seem to detest so much when used against them.

But I do have high hopes that she’ll fail in her attempts and just come off looking mean and stupid. There is after all only so much lipstick to go around.

And BTW, it does my heart good to hear rawpixels say that…I’ve in fact been hearing many Republicans for over a year now say that they want to restore honor and dignity to the Presidency and therefore have no choice but to vote for Obama. I’ve long suspected just because I know some Republicans and they don’t generally come off like the Bush Adminsitration neocons in real life, that many Republicans are actually good people who believe something different than I do, but are sincere and actually care about their country as much as I do.

dalepetrie's avatar

BTW, I follow a site called, they use statistical methods to aggregate polls, remove bias and pollster introduced error and predict what is going to happen in the election by running 10,000 nightly simulations on a state by state basis, and they currently give Obama an 85% chance of winning…by far the highest either candidate has had all year.

delirium's avatar

(I am seriously annoyed that they’re not using the new debate format. The presidential debate was awesome! It was thrilling and fun to watch. I loved it!)

EmpressPixie's avatar

Here’s the article I was looking for:

“McCain himself downplayed the revelation, perhaps rightfully so. His campaign approved of her selection and ostensibly knew about the book before hand (it had been in the news weeks prior).”

rawpixels's avatar

Believe me, I don’t think Democrats are anything great, but I refuse to vote for McCain/Palin in these tough times. I’m hoping the GOP starts to adopt the policies/attitude of Ron Paul. The GOP has pandered to the uninformed Joe Sixpack and the “Faithful” for too long now. Until they get their act together, they will not have my support.

I truly fear for the future of this once great country.

Bri_L's avatar

My dad sent this article about Palin’s previous debates. The way I interpret her style is that she is an opportunist who bides her time looking for sound bites.;_ylt=Aie5PU1xYPdU2vMgTIUvz11h24cA

delirium's avatar

Bri, my dad (coincidence!) sent me this little story relating to palin…

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old rancher, who’s
hand was caught in the gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up
a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to
Palin and her bid.

The old rancher said, “Well, ya know, Palin is a ‘Post Turtle’”.

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a ‘post
turtle’ was.

The old rancher said, “When you’re driving down a country road you
come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s a “post

The old rancher saw the puzzled look on the doctor’s face so he
continued to explain. “You know she didn’t get up there by herself,
she doesn’t belong up there, and she doesn’t know what to do while
she’s up there, and you just wonder what kind of dummy put her up
there to begin with”.

Snoopy's avatar

@dale OF COURSE this is true!
“many Republicans are actually good people who believe something different than I do, but are sincere and actually care about their country as much as I do”

Did you actually believe it otherwise? It is only the most vocal of both sides that we are forced to listen to most of the time.

fireside's avatar

@delirium – that’s a great story

dalepetrie's avatar

I love it, “post turtle”. Way better analogy than lipstick on a pig.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@Delirium, my boyfriend has been using the same analogy/story/thing (“post turtle”) but with the last part being more like “you wonder who was cruel enough to put her up there to begin with”

delirium's avatar

<3 I keep trying to cite it, but i’m bollocks at repeating stories.

flameboi's avatar

Biden is going to eat Palin alive, no doubt about it…

Bri_L's avatar


Lurve to you!!!

Snoopy's avatar

@flameboi He would do best to not “eat Palin alive”. If he comes at her too over the top it will look like he is kicking a puppy.

delirium's avatar

also, pixel: I don’t disagree. True republican politics are intellectually intriguing. There are no right or wrong answers, its all opinion. I think, however, pandering to the stupid is as wrong as you can get.

(And I don’t thing true republican politics are anything great, but I definitely can respect them… unlike what’s been going on in washington for the past 8 years)

EmpressPixie's avatar

@flameboi and snoopy: and if he goes easy on her, he runs the risk of looking condescending. He’s in a really tough spot right now. Kill her in debate? Easy. Still look good later? Not quite so…

flameboi's avatar

When someone’s on the floor, kick them! No, really, he needs to find a way to shatter her in front of everyone and still, be a gentleman, is easy… and I don’t like puppies (snoopy is a one time exception)

dalepetrie's avatar

Snoopy – for a brief while leading up to and after the 2000 election, I became extremely disillusioned. I’m sure you know the addage, “scratch a cynic and you’ll find a disspointed idealist.” That was me, I was an idealist, and I simply couldn’t BELIEVE that people were voting for this Bush guy when essentially he was an inarticulate buffoon whose main qualificaions seemed to be that his daddy was President and God had told him to run. He scared the hell out of me from the get go, and I saw the election really polarize people right in front of my eyes.

I couldn’t believe how many people were just bringing gut instinct into the polling booth with them instead of critical thought or an understanding of the issues. The more I read about it, the more I observed it, the more I came to realize that a full 40% of this country does not vote, and a full 40% of those who do shouldn’t be allowed to vote, much less breed.

But I saw how mean they could get when they wanted to win. I saw what they did to McCain who at the time was an honorable man. I saw the rise of Karl Rove. I saw them convert the mayor of my city (St. Paul) from a 60’s era hippie Democrat, to a neocon Bush lackey (and now a US Senator – Norm Coleman). I saw raw, naked ambition which didn’t care about the truth or justice or the American way to paraphrase the cliche. And I saw so many people voting for it, either out of stupidity, or out of complete self serving disregard for anyone but themselves. It was appalling to me.

Then there came the outright election theft, and the more I read about that, the more I realized that all these conspiracy theorists maybe weren’t as crazy as I’d once thought. And I began to become very political, reading everything I could get my hands on, trying desperatetly to find the truth. And everywhere I dug I found one more example, then one more, then one more of how Republicans would sell their own mother for power. And I saw VERY few examples of honorable Republicans. I saw Congress vote on party lines almost 100% of the time, Republicans were lock step with everything the Bush Administration wanted to do, they had zero conscience.

I saw Bush rape our consumer and environmental protections. Then 9/11 happened and I saw the rise of facism in my own country. I saw Republicans everywhere exploit a national tragedy the way the Nazis exploited the Reichstag fire. I felt like I was going to split in two. I lost complete sight of the fact that the people in power did not necessarily represent the rank and file people on the street. And the 2004 elections, let me tell you, did very little to quell my fears that Republicans were by and large evil people who didn’t care about their country, or anyone but themselves.

But I started becoming more active on the internet. I started engaging with people. I started having conversations. And I realized, they’re not all like that. They’re not all mean spirited people who will go to the national convention and openly mock community organizing. They’re not all going on TV to say we should bomb Iran and take their oil. They’re not all big fans of borrow and spend economics. I listened to moderate Republicans…I learned what it USED to mean to be a Republican. I had conversations with people who didn’t try to just shout me down (though I’ve met more than my share of Republicans who think you win a debate by being the loudest).

And Obama’s candidacy sealed the deal for me, when I saw that something like 12% of Republicans could actually bring themselves to vote for someone as progressive as Obama because they too were rejecting the alternative, it made me realize that there is some hope. It also made me open to the idea that hey, there are people who just genuinely believe in small government, and aren’t out to turn this country into Jesusland and force their morality down my throat while raping our land and exploiting our resources for the goal of unfettered wealth for the haves and screw the have nots.

I had several conversations where I realized that many Republicans do care about those less fortunate, they just believe strongly that their way of getting there makes more sense than mine. I had several conversations with people directly affected by 9/11 who felt that the use of pre-emptive force was a matter of self defense. So yeah, for a time I’d lost faith in Republicans and most of humanity as a matter of fact.

The only thing that’s going to bring me back to the brink is another stolen election. After that I may have no choice but to radicalize.

Snoopy's avatar

@flameboi. Thanks for the exception. I think.

flameboi's avatar

You are welcome, I had a peanuts cap when I was in middle school and I loved it :)

Snoopy's avatar

@dale Well, thanks for sharing your experience.

I vote the issues and the individual candidates.

I have also found that no “side” is better than the other. Democrats are frequently just as obnoxious, obtuse and idiotic as Republicans.

dalepetrie's avatar

I too vote the issues, always have, and I in no way endorse the idea that Republicans are the only ones who serve only themselves. Unfortunately, it was the level of severity I witness over the last 8 years that got to me, and to be fair, perhaps if the tables were reversed I might have seen a Democratic administration and Congress every bit as self serving and uncaring as the Republicans seemed to be.

To be 100% accurate, I’m not a Democrat. I’m a liberal. I’m far left. I make no apologies for that. I believe everything needs to be turned on it’s head. I believe in bottom up prosperity, and thing that top down/trickle down/Reaganomic economic theories are reverse Robin Hood ripoffs of the American people on the grandest scale imaginable. I believe in FDR era ideals. I believe there should be a strong government and it’s role should be to help those who can’t help themselves (not who don’t want to), and to make sure people don’t fall through the cracks. I believe in capitalism, but not unfettered free markets. I think government needs to provide those things we can’t provide for ourselves…and should be able to ensure that every American has access to top quality education from young childhood through college, adequate health care, infrastructure such as roads, bridges, communications, etc., and the ability to retire at an advanced age. I don’t mind if the market plays a role in these solutions, but I don’t believe in dismantling the threads of our social safety net as we’ve been doing for the past 28 years. I believe in a strong national defense, but not an offense…I think a position of neutrality is the best course, but I believe in taking a leadership role on the issue of global human rights. I believe in green and renewable technologies and resources as a path not only to independence, but national security AND prosperity.

And I have a huge disdain for politics. I think it is politics, not Democrats or Republicans, that cause the problem. I think it is unchecked ambition and desire for power, and a political structure in which money and power are the only two things which have a voice which causes 100% of the problems facing our nation. And unfortunately, for too long I saw very few patriots among the ranks of the Republicans and far too many politicians. And yes, I fully see that there are far too few patriots among the ranks of Democrats and far too many politicians, but at least I have been able to take solace in the fact that what these “politicians” have been trying to achieve is closer to my ideology on the Democrat’s side, and so I decry it far more when I see it on the Republican side. It’s a catch-22, in the ideal world, I wish for political leaders who could side with me ideologically, but who would be able to achieve power without becoming betrothed to the political power structure. But it’s impossible.

Which is one reason I have had great hopes for Obama. I think his speeches and actions before he threw his hat in the ring showed him to be an idealist, on board with my ideology. I think his actions while running for President prove what he says about operating in the world you have, not the world as you’d like it to be. I see in him a person who embraces politics as a means to an end, so we see him compromise on FISA or the Wall Street Giveaway to the Rich While Raping the Litle Guy Yet Again Bailout. But he HAS to. If he wants to grab the brass ring he needs to play by the rules that exist now, and change them once he’s won the battle. I hope not to be disappointed, but I won’t hold my breath. Like I said, I’m an idealist, not an idiot.

And one coda to this masterpiece…I’ve voted for Republicans and I’ve voted for Independents in non Presidential races. I vote for issues, not personalities. But no party other than the Democrats has since I’ve been able to vote managed to put up a candidate I could stomach who actually had a chance to win. But it all boils down to this…even though I knew Clinton was a politician, and not perfect, I didn’t decry his collossal grabs for power and malfeasance towards ideals that were not self serving, because often his self interest reflected my ideals. I could count on one hand the number of times Bush’s self interests intersected with my ideals. Therein lies my bias, and I do not apologize for it.

Snoopy's avatar

@dale You said: “I’m a liberal. I’m far left.”

Seeing as that is the case, it is understandable that you would more easily find fault w/ things drifting from the right.

I’m just sayin’....

Judi's avatar

Living in the city where the bible belt snaps and stings at the end, most of my friends are Republican. They have called a “girls night out” tonight choosing to go to dinner instead of watch the debate. Since relationships are more important than politics, I’ll be tivo-ing the debate. I just wonder if the thought of watching their candidate debate was to painful so they chose dinner out instead.

dalepetrie's avatar

snoopy – admittedly, that’s exactly what I’m saying. But I’m not blind to the sheer self serving hypocrisy on the left either, just usually doesn’t sting as much because often I ultimately agree with the result (just not the method used to get there).

shilolo's avatar

@Judi. If the second fiddle on your friends’ ticket is so revolting even to die-hard Republicans, how is it even remotely possible for them to vote for the ticket? I am utterly confused about this. I can understand voting for a candidate if one shares their values and ideas (even if I never would), but if one of the two candidates on the ticket (who is first in line to become president should something happen to the president) is an absolute bumbling idiot, how can a true citizen even consider the ticket a viable option? I really want to understand this on a psychological level. Any clues?

dalepetrie's avatar

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, shilolo

Judi's avatar

There is a blind alegance factor I think. The Republican party, since about 1980 has hyjacked God. My Lutheran pastor admits to being a “Fox News Junkie,” a sneaky way to say, “I endorse everything Republican and so should you. ”
The pastors wife actually crunched up her nose when I told her I was a democrat.
I think many of them HOPE that Palin will eventually become president. They will see her as a modern day David, a humble Carabou shephard, overcoming the mighty Goliath to be Queen of a Godly nation.
We did have dinner with a couple the other night that we were sure were in the “blind allegance’ camp that are actually excited about Obama. They voted for Bush the last 2 elections. There is hope.

shilolo's avatar

My mind quivers at the thought that people would willingly submit to having a nitwit at the helm of this country with all of the complex issues we face today. We’ve seen what havoc 8 years of a Presidency run by “gut influences” can wreak. Not again, please…

Bri_L's avatar

Here are some interesting notes from someone who debated Palin.

And here are some other observations.;_ylt=Aie5PU1xYPdU2vMgTIUvz11h24cA

rawpixels's avatar

Well, I was bashing Sarah Palin earlier on here, and while I still don’t think Sarah Palin is experienced enough to be VP, she sure did a lot better tonight than I ever expected. She screwed up a minor things, and steered away from certain specific questions, but overall, much better than I expected. I think if she wasn’t running for VP, I’d actually like to have a beer with her…naked, of course.

Bri_L's avatar

I am afraid she was as scripted as I expected. She referred to all the info that she had practiced over the few weeks. She applied the folksy part of her that the darn home folks love. And, as you pointed out, she quirked her way out of situations by not answering.

fireside's avatar

@rawpixels – here’s that nude painting of Palin

Bri_L's avatar

@ fireside – to put it in Palin-ese “that dog don’t hunt”

Nimis's avatar

He said his daughter, who does a good impression of the Alaska governor, served as model.?

Oh, my!

fireside's avatar

@ Nimis – yes, that was probably the most disturbing part of that article to me also.

delirium's avatar

Same. Creeeeepy!

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