Governor Palin's strategy was to talk about what she wanted to talk about -- whether, as she put it, it was what her opponent or the moderator wanted to talk about. This, of course, is highly defensible given that the world knows Gwen Ifill wasn't going to do much on terrain that's unfriendly to Barack Obama.
Yesterday, on KTLA here in LA, I said that it would be a mistake to underestimate Joe Biden in a setting like this one. He did a good job tonight. It's no surprise that he's capable of holding his tongue in a debate format -- as he proved in the Democrat debates through the spring. Unplugged, he's a goofball, but a likable one. It was never realistic for Republicans to hope he'd implode in a controlled setting, and he didn't. He did a very good job (aside, of course, from insisting that Iran is far from obtaining a nuclear weapon).
But it was Sarah Palin who smashed the expectations game out of hte park. She denied the MSM the opportunity to play and replay a gaffe that supposedly would justify the contempt and vituperation they've heaped on her.
Sitting comfortably at home, it's easy to point out one missed opportunity.
For example, when Biden conceded that Obama might have to cut back on his foreign aid plan, it would have been great if she had pointed out that Barack Obama wants all of us to become global taxpayers. But she was fabulous in pointing out that Biden supported most of John McCain's approach to the war in Iraq . . . until he landed on Barack's ticket.
Governor Palin was able to attack with a smile -- she called out Barack brilliantly on a reckless comment about our bombing villages in Afghanistan --and held her own with Biden every bit. She likewise articulated her point well in rebuttal to his insistence that no surge can work in Afghanistan.
Sarah Palin has a delightfully down to earth, "real" quality about her that makes it clear as she pointed out (again, brilliantly) that she's no Washington insider. Her "Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again" moment was utterly charming (and it provides a stellar example of how female leaders can be tough without coming across as unappealing).
What's become clear is that anyone who has tried to smear her as stupid or ill-equipped owes her a deep and profound apology. I'd trust her instincts and judgments over Barack's any day (why, by the way, does no one ever point out that when Barack opposed the war as a state senator, he had no access to any of the intelligence possessed by those who actually had responsibility for casting a vote?).
Of course, the MSM may try to argue that "anyone" can study for a debate. Well, I'd point out that the same goes double for their candidate, Barack Obama, too. He's a good student and a well-spoken Ivy League professor. She's a leader.