Pre-Debate Thoughts: The Expectations Game (by Josh Taylor)

Never in recent history have the expectations for a vice presidential candidate in a debate been so low as they are tonight for Sarah Palin.  As bits and pieces of the disastrous Couric interview have surfaced over the week, pundits have nearly hyperventilated and the American people have shown their unease through recent polling.  However, in the context of this debate, this information only hurts Joe Biden.

Biden has lots of experience and is a legitimate expert in foreign policy (he is arguably more qualified than Obama), but if he bears down on Sarah Palin and exposes her weakness (which are many, and this will be tempting) it will be viewed as sexist and mean.  He will not win over voters.  What Joe Biden needs to do is to sit back and let Palin talk. She will make errors, and he needs to let the audience see them, not pounce on them himself.

Andrew Halcro wrote a piece the other day about debating Sarah Palin (he was an independent candidate against her for governor in 2006). He noted (and the debate video shows it) that Palin is an expert in the “non-answer” and will manage to dodge tough questions. Biden needs to provide a contrast by answering questions directly and clearly, not by harping on Palin’s incompetence.

All Palin has to do is exceed expectations with her fluency in foreign policy and other federal affairs. Which is a much easier task than Biden’s.


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