VP vs. VP

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on September 25, 2008

Sarah Palin sat down with Katie Couric today. The interview comes in two parts.

Part I

Watch CBS Videos Online

Part II (Note that the last minute or so of this one is identical to a minute in the first one):

Watch CBS Videos Online

For the record: I don't think that Palin did nearly as good a job with Couric as she did with Gibson a couple weeks back. Of course, I don't see where CBS has provided an unedited transcript, so some of this may be due to selective editing. However, if the McCain campaign doesn't start howling today, then I'll assume this is a fair rendition of the interview.

After watching those two videos, I'd like you to take a look at this one Couric did with Joe Biden last week.

Watch CBS Videos Online

There are substantive differences between the two presentations -- and I'm not talking solely about the two candidates.

The Biden bio/interview is noticably lighter on substance than the Palin interview. The Biden interview includes supporters saying how wonderful he his -- there's nothing similar in Palin's treatment.

Finally, Couric's challenge to Palin to name something McCain wanted to regulate (excepting Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae where he was prescient and 100 percent right about) was a little unfair. Not because Palin couldn't name something else (she couldn't) but because the way Couric phrased the question seemed to assume that McCain is somehow responsible for the overall financial crisis because he didn't want to regulate enough.

But the move towards deregulation has been going on since the 1980s -- and it's not all been bad. It's also been largely bipartisan. You can get phone service through your cable provider or over the Internet. You don't have to rent those lame phones from AT&T.

Bank of America couldn't have come in and saved Merrill Lynch if it hadn't been for deregulation that tore down the wall between investment banks and commericial banks.

The most disappointing thing was that Couric didn't ask any tough questions of Joe Biden. Biden's been in the Senate about as long as I've been alive, and there were no questions about what he thought Congress could or should do.

Unlike the Gibson interview, there's nothing in Couric's interview of Palin that was unfair (barring the McCain campaign enlightening us on something today), out of context or out of bounds. The media's problem -- and this includes CBS -- is that the Democrats aren't getting the same tough questions.

0 comments on “VP vs. VP”

  1. C'mon Matt, is that the best you can do, compare the way Couric treated both candidates? Is that the defense?

    That interview was an unmitigated disaster, the answer about McCains top aid lobbying for Freddie, her answer on the foreign policy experience. It was a joke.

    Can everyone stand up and finally say that the Palin pick was a really bad idea? Stop trying to spin this in one direction or another and just say that it was a terrible mistake?

    For the record I don't think either of the candidates are ready to be President, the answer to the current financial crisis from both has been pathetic. We should demand much more from both parties than these two. That said, at least Obama picked someone that has some experience that will be relevant to leading the country. Biden might make some gaffes, and he might say some things he shouldn't, but my god, at least he doesn't come across like Palin.

    To be honest, why shouldn't the press be tough on her, she has no record in national leadership, her record on state leadership is weak. She does not hold press conferences and few interviews (I can't think of why), and the McCain team has not let her be questioned. On the flip side Biden has been in office for years and is a known quantity.

    Republicans are making the same mistakes they've made for the last seven years, instead of asking the tough questions and hitting back on their leaders they have been making excuses for bad decisions. If this party is to continue it needs to stop making excuses and start asking the tough questions and pushing back. The people that should be outraged are the Repubs, this decision to add Palin to the ticket could very well cost McCain the election.

  2. Almost all the complaints above about Palin can be said of Obama who happens to be at the top of the other ticket.

  3. I don't think it is asking too much that the media not actually turn into an advocacy group for a candidate, and that seems to be what has happened this election. I don't know that asking someone to be familiar with every position McCain has taken is fair either. Biden is an outright buffoon (FDR as prez in 1929, etc, etc), why doesn't that disqualify him?

  4. Df, I don't think it will be clear if the Palin pick was a disaster until election day, and maybe not even then. People don't generally vote based on the bottom of the ticket, and while Palin has generally excited the base, I suspect that at worst she's a small net positive -- lack of experience and all.

    I agree that she should face more press availability. As all of the candidates should. But the press is making more out of Palin's occasional availability than they ever did about Obama. Remember Obama's press conference where he answered eight questions before calling an end to it?

    True, Palin has no national experience. I disagree with your assessment of her state leadership -- tossing out and exposing the cronies who were bilking Alaskan taxpayers. Cutting millions in pork out of the state budget. Reining in earmark requests by her congressional delegation (not enough as far as I'm concerned, but far better than it was).

    As for Biden, he may be a known quantity to the Washington press corps, but they use that as an excuse not to ask him any tough questions. Did you see Couric ask him about his plan to partition Iraq? That wasn't a good idea in the first place -- now it looks downright stupid. As Patrick notes, he claimed that FDR went on TV in 1929 to calm the masses after the stock market collapse. FDR didn't take office until 1933 and television wasn't widespread until after WWII. He tells an environmentalist that he and Obama are against "clean coal," yet the campaign's official position is pro-"clean coal." Obama hammered Hillary for her vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq and said that being wrong on that one issue should disqualify her from being president, yet Biden voted the same way and Obama picked him to be VP.

    If Palin had said and done those things the press would really be screaming bloody murder.

    As a raw political calculation, I don't think that the number of McCain leaners that flip to Obama because of Palin will be greater than the Obama leaners who flip to McCain because of Palin. Barring a Biden-level screw-up, I think she'll be a small net positive.

  5. I don't remember Obama's press conference, but at least he had one. A quick Google search tells me it was 6 months ago. We are less than 6 weeks from the election and she has had two press interviews. Talking to Sean Hannity does not count as an interview, that was, at best, an infomercial.

    I do think the Palin choice could have an affect on this election. If she fails completely at the VP debate I can see people begin to move away from McCain, you're already beginning to see republican/conservative columnists move away, I have a feeling that will continue with everyone but the partisans. It is the conservatives and middle of road guys swing voters that will move, and I have a feeling it will be in droves. Bob Barr is starting to look better and better.


  6. If McCain wins, I don't think Palin would be ready to take over if he dropped dead in March. But she's running for VP, not president, and I think odds are he makes it through a 4 year term. But say she does have to take over 2 years into a McCain presidency. Does she appear to have the smarts to learn the job in 2 years, and does she have values we want in a president? Based on her performance as governor and her approval rating, I think the answer is yes. I find her less frightening than Biden. Her mistakes are simply not being around Washington enough (a point in her favor for the most part) and not being up to speed on some issues, while Biden just can't keep his mouth from flapping while disengaged from his brain, something which can't be corrected with more experience.


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