10:38: Andrew Sullivan on the real loser: "Gwen Ifill. She was intimidated, peripheral, neutered. The rules didn't help. But Ifill put in a dreadful performance." Time for a smoke!
10:33: More Reagan talk. More talk about Mellencampian small towns.
10:30: We're out of wine. Perfect timing!
10:27: "I've never questioned their judgment," Biden said admirably regarding his Senate colleagues, throwing in a cute reference to the late Jesse Helms' adopted son. Interpret that as you wil.
10:21: Biden chokes up when discussing his dead wife and son. Palin looks thrown. Her scripted answer looks heartless and tinny. Can't she improvise a response?!
10:16: Iffill asks her first intelligent question: the expanded authority of the vice president in the post-Cheney age. Biden reminds us that the vice president's powers are defined under Article One of the Constitution. Palin was clueless. It's possible that this empty-vessel approach to the job means her implied powers would be...restricted. She'll be no Cheney, doubtless.
10:13: Palin gave a shout-out to third graders. This is getting great.
10:12: Palin said "Doggone it." Reagan never said "doggone it."
10:11: Why does Palin glow with good humor when she mentions higher taxes and lost jobs on Main Street?
10:09. Palin: "What do ya expect? We're a team of mavericks!" Third glass of wine.
10:04: My own EKG meter is flatlining. Biden, transforming himself into a Smart Warmonger, dithers on his Iraq votes, yet supports intervention in Darfur; Palin just chirps anti-Washington banalities.
9:59: Re Biden: so "more troops" in Afghanistan isn't a "surge"?
9:56: I Love Everything's Autumn Almanac: Biden on Israel "he totally Gandolfini breathed."
9:53: After a desultory quarter of an hour, Biden's warming up. "The only thing on the march is Iran. Its proxies now have a major stake in Lebanon, as well as on the Gaza strip." The eagerness with which Israel becomes the Lil' Bo Peep of American foreign policy pisses me off, though.
9:49: This is the part of the debate in which each side shows which has the bigger foreign policy dick.
9:47: The more I think about Palin's answer on same-sex rights, the more angry I get that Iffill let it go.
9:46: Did George H.W. Bush ever call Reagan "Ron"? Did Al Gore ever refer to Clinton as "Bill"? Stop this phony informality.
9:44: Palin's breath control is impeccable. Can't say the same about her smile control.
9:37: Palin won't even say "gay" aloud. She and Biden both support visitation rights and insurance benefits, which is less heinous than what we're used to...but still. The determined way in which both chomped down hard on the "No" regarding gay marriage tells me we still got a long road to travel before candidates talk like adults.
9:34: Totally incoherent responses on drilling from Biden and Palin.
9:26: Ugh. Why must Biden give Palin (bless her heart) credit for a "windfall profit" tax refund when it's basically a huge dole?
9:25: Second glass of wine.
9:23: "Bless their hearts," Palin purrs, regarding the heads of Alaskan oil cartels.
9:21: After a long-winded answer in which Biden recites a litany of figures that scared the shit outta me, he inserts his first zinger -- something about the Bridge to Nowhere, naturally. No sweat glistens.
9:17: "Redistribution of wealth" = 'nother buzzword. Biden really needs to stop smiling: the reflected gleam doesn't work against the power of Palin's glasses. And she's so DEE-lighted when she scoffs at the federal government.
9:14: Palin's first use of the gutter populism to which she and her supporters have turned when logic fails ("I'm not going to answer the questions the way you and the moderator may want"). It doesn't play as well here as it did at the GOP convention.
9:10: Cut to Biden during Palin's response: he's shooting General Zod death-beams from his eyes.
9:08: Oh I see. What McCain really meant when he said that "The fundamentals of the US economy are strong," he was referring to the "strength of our workforce."
9:05: Palin says "You betcha!" like Fargo's Marge Gundersen. She's staring right at the camera, and her answer as a result was admirably direct. So was Biden. I suspect these two are gonna be like two taciturn geezers at the saloon, except their teeth gleam.
9:04: Biden makes the first reference to "Main Street."
9:00: Bryan Williams, out of the gate with the evening's first generalization: "We've never had an election like this one." Tom Brokaw notes Gov. Sarah Palin's "puckish sense of humor."
9:03: Palin approaches Biden and gushes, "Can I call you Joe?!" Biden beams.