Dadgummit, I'm confused. Watching the debate between Governor Barracuda and Senator Blowhard last night, I thought her down home perkiness was blowing him away. I did think she was going too far in announcing up front that she wasn't going to answer the questions, and then proceeding to regurgitating talking points that often didn't have the slightest relationship to the questions she was supposed to be answering. But, I thought, on television, substance doesn't matter. People are going to be charmed by her smiles and winks and ability to say something, even if it was nonsense.
Senator Blowhard was all facts and statistics and I thought people's eyes would glaze over as he pronounced how far-sighted and smart he had been. I wasn't happy that he didn't respond to her jibes that he had said that Obama isn't ready to be president and that he would be happy to run with John McCain. He did have one strong moment, that would play well with the viewing public, I thought, when he got choked up about the death of his first wife with their son being in the hospital, not knowing whether he would live or die.
The moderator, Gwen Isfill, I thought, was the worst of all time. They might as well have had a robot ask the questions. She didn't follow up; she didn't make Governor Barracuda answer the questions, she just sat there, like someone with a broken leg who wished they were home.
But it turns out, like so often, I was wrong. The instant poll by CNN said Blowhard won over Barracuda by 51 to 36 percent. Similarly, an instant poll by CBS showed Blowhard winning over Barracuda by 46 to 21 percent.
Predictably, the conservative pundits thought Barracuda did great while the liberals though Blowhard won. Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker has the funniest take on the debate, mocking the Barracuda's excessive use of colloquialisms.
Mark Blumenthal at Pollster.com has valuable historical perspective. Winning the vice presidential debate has little to do with who wins the election. For example, everyone agreed that Lloyd Bentsen mopped up Dan Quayle with his quip that "I knew Jack Kennedy and you're no Jack Kennedy," but Dukakis/Bentsen still lost the election to Bush/Quayle.
So, who won? Who cares. All the indicators are that this election is going in Obama's favor. McCain is pulling out of Michigan and everything would have to fall just right for him to win the election. We'll see.