Biden Didn’t Lose, But…

Sarah Palin waiting in the wings before last night's debate.

Sarah Palin waiting in the wings.

The best that can be said, from a Democrat’s point of view, is that Joe Biden was fine in last night’s debate. And by not losing, he helped Obama.

But while he was fine, Sarah Palin was busy being mesmerizing. Biden gave detailed, thoughtful answers that mostly lacked one cogent take-away. (Though he got better towards the end.) Palin’s answers were all about the take-away. Even if she avoided answering some of the questions, and even though some of her answers were incoherent, most of her answers boiled down to one believable, memorable idea: I am a real person with smarts, common sense and traditional values, who is like you, America. Biden made an excellent impression. Palin made a vivid impression. That was the difference. With her appearance, her stance, her shapely calves, her plain-American voice, her winks, her confidence, her confidence-giving, her smile, her completely immediate (in its original sense of “without mediation”) eye contact with the television audience, she owned the camera. An hour after the debate, most of what Biden said had disappeared in a haze, but Palin’s after-image was indelible.

Click here for an article on Franz Mesmer (1734-1815), the German physician who first propounded the idea of animal magnetism and contributed mesmerize to the language.

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