VP Debate: Shredding the Constitution v. Duck [sic] Hunting

I wonder if Palin would have had more problems with Dick Cheney’s drunken hunting accident if she knew that he was hunting quail, not duck.

Katie Couric: What do you think is the best and worst thing that Dick Cheney has done as vice president?

Joe Biden: I’m not being a wise guy here … that I don’t know what he’s done. I mean, there’s not many things I’d pick that I thought he’s done that have been good. But I admire his strength. I admire his willingness to take positions that are completely contrary to popular opinion. But I think that what he’s done has been just, I don’t think Dick Cheney trusts that the American people can make judgments that are in the interest of the country. But the thing I think he’s really, really has done: I think he’s done more harm than any other single high elected official in memory in terms of shredding the constitution. You know, condoning torture, pushing torture as a policy. This idea of a unitary executive, meaning the Congress and the people have no power in a time of war, and the president controls everything. I don’t have any animus toward Dick Cheney but I really do think his attitude about the constitution and the prosecution of this war has been absolutely wrong.

Palin: Worst thing, I guess that would have been the duck-hunting accident, where you know, that was an accident. And that I think that was made into a caricature of him. And that was kind of unfortunate.

So, the best thing though, he’s shown support, along with George W. Bush, of our troops. And I’ve been there when George Bush has spoken to families of those who have suffered greatly, those who are serving in the military. I’ve been there when President Bush has embraced those families and expressed the concern and the sympathy speaking for all of America in those times. And for Dick Cheney to have supported that effort of George Bush’s. I respect that.

Then again, two of the things Dick did while quail hunting–doing so without a current license and drinking at an inappropriate time–are things Palin tried to get her former brother-in-law fired for. So I guess, for Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney can do no wrong. 

  1. WilliamOckham says:

    Palin says:

    I’ve been there when George Bush has spoken to families of those who have suffered greatly, those who are serving in the military. I’ve been there when President Bush has embraced those families and expressed the concern and the sympathy speaking for all of America in those times.

    Is that true? When has she been there? Seriously, are we supposed to believe that. Off to google to check it out.

    • CTMET says:

      Well I guess she had to be doing something while hiding from the Press. I think you are right though.

    • emptywheel says:

      Check out the trip when Bush went to AK for soem event honoring Toobz Stevens (after he was indicted). I know Sarah was there too, and I think it was a military base.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        On Aug. 4, 2008, Bush was at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. In his speech he said:

        I’m also pleased that the Governor of the great state of Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin, and her husband Todd are with us today, too. (Applause.)

        I first want to say something to our military families: I can’t thank you enough for all the sacrifices you have given. There is no question we have the finest military in the world, and one reason why is because we’ve got the finest military families in the world. (Applause.) These have been tough times on our families and I want to thank you for staying in the fight.

        I suppose that counts.

  2. CTMET says:

    I got the feeling they were given these questions ahead of time. She seemed very ready for that question and the one about her favorite movie. THis was very different to Palin’s more off the cuff responses before.

    • emptywheel says:

      But it was the same sit-down as her SCOTUS answer, which she bombed really badly, particularly as an Alaskan.

      I think she was prepped for this one bc it’s often asked at VP debates.

  3. skdadl says:

    Palin’s syntax is very odd. Maybe most of us, when we’re talking, make a few odd segues and lose our place and fail to come back to finish constructions. But she does that all the time. I don’t know whether you can coach someone out of that in a few weeks.

    • emptywheel says:

      Oh boy. You want to talk syntax? Read this:

      There are plenty of people out there—not only English teachers but also amateur language buffs like me—who believe that diagramming a sentence provides insight into the mind of its perpetrator. The more the diagram is forced to wander around the page, loop back on itself, and generally stretch its capabilities, the more it reveals that the mind that created the sentence is either a richly educated one—with a Proustian grasp of language that pushes the limits of expression—or such an impoverished one that it can produce only hot air, baloney, and twaddle.

      I found myself considering this paradox once again when confronted with the sentences of Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee. No one but a Republican denial specialist could argue with the fact that Sarah Palin’s recent TV appearances have scaled the heights of inanity.

      And surprisingly, it was a Gibson answer, not a Couric one, that eluded diagramming.

      • rosalind says:

        my favorite thing to do in 8th grade english was diagramming a sentence. i read that slate piece earlier and imagined my teacher miss harper’s head exploding. you can click and enlarge to get the full effect. (also suitable for framing)

        • behindthefall says:

          It’s the litle archipelago of unaffiliated words in the lower left that I like. Perhaps they are there as a tribute to the Aleutians: you know, islands, off in the lower left part of the Great State of Alaska, never know quite what to do with them.

        • Margot says:

          I loved to diagram sentences, too. This is bringing back good memories of Miss Beheler’s 8th grade English class.

        • eCAHNomics says:

          Surely you jest. Diagramming sentences was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Set back my ability to write by 3 decades

      • skdadl says:

        That is wonderful — I shall study it. I’m a retiring editor (pun intended) and I’ve taught English, but I was never trained to draw parse trees. Maybe that’s a generational thing, and I can see right away how the more basic ones work. But Florey’s diagram of that sentence from the Gibson interview — wow, that is a thing of beauty. Far. Out.

        If I were a good Canadian, I would be watching our English-language leaders’ debate tonight (French was last night), but I just can’t miss Joe smiling at Sarah as she attempts to patronize him for being older than she is. I am so looking forward to this.

        • Petrocelli says:

          If you were a good Canadian, you’d be watching hockey … *g*

          Kids are making me watch Spidey, so I’m here for the debate …

  4. bmaz says:

    Um, yeah, not to mention that Cheney never appropriately was debriefed by the authorities and secreted, destroyed and otherwise spoiled the critical evidence in the form of his actions and blood tox status. Very heroic Sarah. The chick is vapid.

    • RevBev says:

      I so love that response…sympathy for Dick-head, no mention of the guy who was shot in the face. O Dear. Bad treatment for the VP again. O my.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      No. It’s a 2-minute rule.
      That always favors the stupider, more trivial mind.

      No way either candidate can really get out a complex, nuanced answer IMHO.
      Which gives the advantage to Palin going in.

  5. Badwater says:

    Ask McPalin to explain why McCain voted for the bailout bill that he says the Preznit should veto. He looked like he was going to explode when he was asked about that.

  6. KayInMaine says:

    Grant in Houston of my blog just posted this:

    This is almost too good to be true:

    Last night on his radio show, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt
    asked Gov. Sarah Palin if she and her husband “ever faced tough
    economic times.” Palin responded saying that her family struggled to get health insurance “until Todd and I both landed a couple of good union jobs.”


    • Raven says:

      Somewhere in the 18 blogs know as firedogemptywheeloxwhatever there was an entire thread devoted to that.

      • KayInMaine says:

        I don’t think I’ll be able to find the post at this point if you know what I mean. *wink* My head hurts and my right eye is no longer working. LOL Thanks anyways for letting me know this!

    • EvilDrPuma says:

      Oops! She really is just basically unconscious, isn’t she? The woman is literally talking in her sleep.

      • KayInMaine says:

        LOL! Yes she is! I wonder if Johnny knows she didn’t have health insurance until the good paying wonderful Union jobs came her way? Oh boy.

        America would blossom and bloom if Unions were strong in our country once again.

  7. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    I just saw something strange in that clip — it may only be me; does anyone else see what I’m seeing?

    At 1:27, Palin says, “And I’ve been there when George Bush has spoken to families..[suffering]…”

    This is one for the primatologists, but IIRC the way that her eyes narrow precisely as she gets in that ‘I’ve been there” comment is a ‘dominance move’ — she’s not really glaring at Couric, but she gives off a kind of slightly-eye-narrowing, defiant, sense of ‘you can’t question me.’

    It’s noteworthy that she does that ’slight-eye-narrowing’ PRECISELY as she claims the ‘moral high ground’ — by saying “I’ve been there [implication: and you, Ms Famous Media News Anchor, you can’t judge me because I have been there and you haven’t].”

    Now, with ALL due respect and compassion to families who have ‘been there’ and are ’still there’, I’d like to point out that I see the whole Palin commentary as a power-play, and she’s clearly done it many times (and successfully). But that little nugget around 1:27 really underscores part of why her style is so nasty.

    Authoritarianism in lipstick, with a smile around her mouth — but her eyes aren’t smiling.

    More observations below…

  8. perris says:

    I wonder if Palin would have had more problems with Dick Chaney’s drunken hunting accident if she knew that he was hunting quail, not duck.

    first of all, he wasn’t “hunting” quail either, he was getting his pals to throw the quail at his gun where he would then pull the trigger

    what the FRIG is up with these sociopaths?

    Cheney gets a kick out of having some maggots release domesticated birds in front of his shot gun

    palin gets a kick out of scarring wolves into a corner with an airplane, waits till they are exhausted and helpless and shoots them to suffer till she comes by to cut off one of it’s feet

    this is a sick crowd

  9. hate2haggle says:

    The thought of listening to the debate, live, makes me physically ill. Is there a doctor in the house, and is that be possible?

  10. Elliott says:

    90 minutes, no breaks
    no limit on topics
    -90 second answers
    -2 minute open forum discussion
    at end tw0 minute closing statements

    Susan CSPAN

  11. solai says:

    This idea of a unitary executive, meaning the Congress and the people have no power in a time of war, and the president controls everything.

    That’s the giveaway that this was part of the prep. She explains Unitary Exec to Couric. This is a term she just learned and doesn’t realize that most people are familiar with the phrase.
    GWB does that too.

  12. readerOfTeaLeaves says:


    Words Biden emphasizes with his body and tone:
    trust, unitary executive, constitution, prosecution

    All of those are actually pretty complex concepts.

    Words Palin emphasizes with her body and tone:
    @ 1:20: ACCIdent (Cheney had an ‘ACCident’, and she looks down as if to say, “unfortunate; we won’t discuss it any further”)

    At 1:22, she has to move from the topic of Cheney’s hunting ACCIdent to a new topic; she has a vacant, kind of dazed moment there — it’s the linkages that don’t seem to function in her conversation. She also has a little head-toss in that section, as if to brush off any unpleasant associations.

    The next point at which she has to shift to a new topic comes at 1:30 — again, that momentary dazed, vacant stare while the LittleEngineThatCould** that runs around inside her mind tries to connect dots.

    Hunch: she’s a wind-up doll.
    She can talk for ages about any topic of emotional salience to her.

    What she cannot do is ‘connect the dots’ in any meaningful way.
    I don’t see how a 2 minute debate format is going to catch her on this huge problem.

    Whew, I sure hope the primatologists and psychological researchers are watching.
    I’m sure that the Russian and Chinese and Indians are… God only knows what they all make of it.

  13. radiofreewill says:

    90 Minutes is a Long Time.

    I look for Sarah to treat tonight as RNC Nominating Speech v2, and Aggressively Attack Obama.

    She’ll have a well-coached, set-piece ’strong’ opening and closing. I wouldn’t be surprised if her first three responses are choreographed in advance, just waiting for the topic in each question.

    So, expect a throw-the-curtains-back, leggy-strut opening to Enthrall the Goopers all over again.

    She’ll have two ‘themes’ – probably her ‘executive’ ‘outsider’ ‘reform’ experience and ‘Obama doesn’t get it’ – that she’ll weave through a ‘formatted’ answer plan – which has been loaded with as much Issue Knowledge as she could take.

    She’ll have pre-planned attacks, practiced facial reactions and a Strategy for Not Looking Dumb.

    She’ll be attempting to Radiate “I’m the Boss, and I’m ready to Take Over Right Now.”

    She’ll be Righteous and Angry by the end of the Debate, because most likely her set-piece Archetypal ending calls for it.

    Her intention is to walk off the Stage at the end of the Debate as Joan of Arc, and lest we forget, it was Joan who told the King of France what he ‘had to do’ to save his Country when he thought all was lost.

    This is a Really Tall Order for someone who is, at heart, nothing more than a High School Regina the Mean Girl.

    While she might look convincing in the beginning of the Debate, there’s virtually No Chance that she’ll pull it off over the course of full Debate.

    Back later this evening.

    Go Joe!

  14. juste says:

    WHAT is all this hype about?

    Don’t you people remember what a brilliant strategy it is having Palin on the ticket?

    Haven’t you noticed that women’s issues are “front and center” in this campaign?

    Don’t you KNOW that “what Palin stands for symbolically will be more important than ANYTHING she says” tonight??



  15. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Anybody have a way to get close ups of Sarah? I fear her she might have earings or a device of some kind to feed her answers.

  16. prostratedragon says:

    Simply “Brava!” on the Palin cartoon over at FDL liveblog. Much, much chuckling here.

  17. skdadl says:

    Amazing. She can’t do it either. She can’t address Biden directly (as he did her, very courteously), and she can’t look at him.

  18. JoyB says:

    Yes! That’s right! McCain DID rush back for a nice meal in DC during the crisis. Credit where credit is due…

  19. ThingsComeUndone says:

    A fear that McCain might deregulate more? A fear that McCain’s campaign manager is getting $15,000 a month from Fannie or is it Freddie for doing nothing.

  20. perris says:

    I hope obama hit’s her about mccain “suspending his campaign”, mccain did not

    biden is doing pretty good going straight after mccain, really really good

  21. perris says:

    aha, she has to go off script and is rambling

    biden did GREAT! getting her off script…man he is good

  22. ThingsComeUndone says:

    She has her talking points ready. She thinks she is new energy has she seen an Obama rally?

  23. perris says:

    she does this whispering thing when she wants to sound important

    interesting, it seems to be effective

  24. JMorgan says:

    Whenever she “tsks”, whispery breathy catch in her throat, a wink, or does something “adorable” (great SNL catch), it’s a tell that she’s on weak ground.

  25. perris says:

    man, she is SO off script, they either didn’t give her good council or she thinks she is the shit

  26. skdadl says:

    She did it. She made Biden’s years of experience sound like a negative.

    But she is babbling. Honestly: Biden shouldn’t have to put up with this.

  27. KayInMaine says:

    I think she’s wired. She doesn’t sound relaxed and is concentrating when she talks. Don’t you have to do that if someone’s voice is in your ear?

  28. perris says:

    she’s on the talking points that “taxes are on the people’s side”

    I hope biden is well prepared to punish that point of view

  29. KayInMaine says:

    Oh yes, she’s gonna talk about taxes because she was told to ONLY talk about taxes.

    I hope Joe brings up abstinence and then says, “So what the hell happened to your daughter? IQ of 12?”

  30. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Boy, I do not envy Biden.
    I’m reminded of that bimbo in “Singin’ In the Rain”, the Silent Screen Star with the squeaky voice who Debbie Reynolds is hired to make look good…

    Her obliviousness to her own lies is terrifying.

  31. ThingsComeUndone says:

    She wants to let people know about taxes her record her home town is millions in debt com on Joe!

  32. JMorgan says:

    The lawyer is coming out in Biden. He’s listening to her and pointing out that she’s not answering the questions. Let’s hope she doesn’t wear him out with this machine gun recitation.

  33. KayInMaine says:

    I loved how Gwen just said that Palin’s time was up and Palin said, “Okay”. In other words, she’s just doing a bunch of parroting AND HAS TO BE SHUT OFF LIKE A STEREO.

  34. perris says:

    biden needs to teach obama how to do this, biden has it down pretty good, sounds sincere, doesn’t sound like he’s reading

    this is the way you talk and sound like an authority, you don’t end your sentence going up you end them going down, going up indicates you are remembering, going down indicates you are the source

    good stuff

  35. KayInMaine says:

    The Palin’s made over $500,000 last year I heard. Middle class? Bah hahahahahaha! Oh please Sarah. Go lie to Canada the foreign country right next to ya.

  36. perris says:

    “that’s not patriotic”

    aha, “govenrment is too often the problem, let the private sector do it’s stuff”

    man, biden can really score here

  37. Neil says:

    Palin’s combination of folksy patter and big girl words like “espoused” is what drives me crazy about her uninformed blather.

    She was “we” and “us” early in the debate…. I am you and you are me. blechhh.

  38. JMorgan says:

    Look how she anticipates the camera and turns to the lens just as the camera goes in for the close-up. That’s a communications major.

  39. JoyB says:

    OK, so Obama voted for those plans, and she had to undo… so how’s Biden going to answer. I’m in anticipation.

  40. WilliamOckham says:

    She said it again:

    I’m not one to attribute all of man’s activities to climate change.

    I’m fairly sure that I agree with that. I have a lot of activities that can’t be attributed to climate change. For example, I’ll have another beer without regard to climate change.

  41. perris says:

    wow, she had to really fish around for her talking point, biden is letting her get away with saying the surge is a success

  42. skdadl says:

    I came back here for refuge from the faster liveblog threads at FDL.

    I think that Joe Biden deserves a medal for suffering through that, I really do. There were moments when I thought that he looked justifiably angry at her twistiness (ok: her lies) — I doubt that he enjoyed that at all. She is demeaning, demeaning to anyone with a critical consciousness, and he must be exhausted. I sure am.

  43. Professor Foland says:

    Biden was great tonight (a big surprise, I’m not a fan), and Palin was somewhere north of mediocre. Unfortunately, I think given the expectations game, that means a tie at best, or a Palin win.

    In the short term, I think people will look at it as a sideshow, without a huge impact on the real race. I hope in the longer term, the willingness to push back against the word “maverick” breaks a dam somewhere.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      I thought it was an absolute Palin meltdown.
      She couldn’t have been worse unless she’d been obviously slurring her words and visibly drunk.
      Absolute disaster.

      I think it will have an impact on the race.
      It has to.
      She’s dangerous.

      And she’s a walking testament to McCain’s gambling recklessness.

      • Ishmael says:

        I agree, she said some absolutely astounding things, like expanding VP power (!!!), “nucular” weapons are the be-all, end all…… but this is high-info voter stuff. And she had some flat-out lies on the 42000 tax increase, etc. But she didn’t seem to go Stockdale and look confused, even though she was absolutely unresponsive to the questions. So, she exceeded the soft bigotry of low Republican expecatations for their candidates. But I don’t see this being an effect on the election – it did a lot more for Sarah Palin as a politician than it did for the McCain campaign.

  44. Ishmael says:

    Gwen Ifill was on her best behavior – no follow up at all, even when there was clearly a dodge of the answer, or Palin asked to talk about something else. Very disappointing. Palin saved herself for the 2012 Republican primary by hitting all the wingnut talking points. Biden did well, was himself, and hit McCain hard. The impact on the election is likely to be minimal, if anything.

    If the focus group on CNN was any guide, ending the Iraq War is a really good line for the Democrats – very strong response for exit strategy from Biden, and Palin talked about victory and flatlined.

  45. klynn says:

    My son printed off an O’Biden sticker…

    via Sarah Palin 2008 VP debate

    Joe’s got the “that’s not a maverick facts down.”

  46. masaccio says:

    I listened to some and read the whole thing. The idea that Palin was in the game is laughable. The only thing I can see is that she has memorized a few new lines, and delivers them with gusto. She was too informal, and she grinned during most of the parts I watched. She had several airhead moments, including the discussion of her role in a McCain administration and her duties as Vice President.

    Here is a quote from the CNN transcript:

    Now, Barack Obama had said that all we’re doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians. And such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause.
    That’s not what we’re doing there. We’re fighting terrorists, and we’re securing democracy, and we’re building schools for children there so that there is opportunity in that country, also. There will be a big difference there, and we will win in — in Afghanistan, also.

    The first sentence is foolish overstatement. Obama doesn’t say that. He points out that we are using air power which leads to killing both fighters and civilians, and the indiscriminate killing is enraging the Afghanistani people. Speaking the truth is not hurting our cause. It is the first step towards dealing with the problem.

    We aren’t fighting terrorists. We are fighting the Taliban, a guerilla group that ruled the country, before we deposed them. And we aren’t even fighting terrorists because they are in Pakistan, which is off limits, especially to McCain. As to the bizarre notion that we are there to do reconstruction, tell that to the Canadians, whose soldiers are dying just like ours and many others. Biden quoted the commanding general there very effectively, leaving her grasping for an answer.

    Held her own? Maybe in wingnuttia.

  47. klynn says:

    Sarah Palin BUSTED!! Forced to apologize to British ambassador for lying about participating in “talks” with him that never actually took place!

    Juan Cole

  48. radiofreewill says:

    Yep, they were on the same Field all right, but the difference was Obvious.

    Joe ran the ball into the end-zone on almost every play.

    Sarah exceeded expectations twirling her talking-points baton.

    Now, it’s time to Take Out the Trash:

    67 Senate Seats

    300 House Seats

    Take Back America!

  49. kspena says:

    It was encouraging that Sarah did learn something in school, but was confusing the US Civil War with war in Afganistan. McClellan, you know….doncha?

  50. kspena says:

    Juan Cole, why don’t you tell us what you really think:

    “She mugged for the camera, winked like a bar fly, and just went on talking and talking and talking, oblivious to whatever anyone else said. Not only did she ignore most of Gwen Ifill’s questions,she paid no attention to what Joe Biden said. When he choked up over the loss of his family, she did not have the decency to express any kind of condolences. It is almost as though she is autistic and unable to connect with human beings.”