Since he got a sore throat yesterday, The Common Man chose not to travel to Minnesota with The Boy this week. It would not be good to inflict illness on his 90 year old grandmothers. Instead, The Common Man is gearing up to watch the debate tonight between Vice-Presidential contestants, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. And he isn't even a little disappointed that The Office is being preempted. Because what this failing and flailing dewmocracy needs most, The Common Man thinks, is an honest, forthright, intelligent exchanging of ideas between intellec...ok, that's as far as The Common Man can get without laughing. C'mon, did you see the Couricinterviews???
Yet, as George W. Bush proved in 2000 and again in 2004, what matters in these debates isn't who wins and who loses. Rather, what matters is how a candidate does based on the expectations the public has for them going in. And, thanks to Palin's Boom Goes the Dynamite-esque performance on CBS News, anything short of Palin curling up in the fetal position, sucking her thumb, and repeating "lipstick, lipstick, lipstick" quietly under her breath while clicking her heels together and hoping she magically wakes up back in the governor's mansion in Juneau might be considered a net gain for the Republican ticket and help them in the polls. Indeed, if more Americans (and more importantly, the press) turn away from tonight's coverage saying, "oh, she wasn't that bad," it may translate into a small Republican gain in the polls.
However, with the downturn in the economy, and the failure to pass the bailout plan through the House, Obama's lead has solidified in the past few days. Key battleground states, such as Michigan (one McCain staffer was quoted by CNN.com as saying it "isn't even a longshot" anymore), Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico, and Washington have gone solidly blue, and Ohio, Florida, and Virginia have a bluish lean to them, according to the latest projection from fivethirtyeight.com. Even North Carolina, Indiana, and Missouri are on the verge of switching to Obama.
Still, if there is one lesson to take away from this election season, it's that the political winds can shift on a dime. And you shouldn't be surprised if a competent Palin, vastly improved from a week at debate camp, makes a decent showing tonight. Indeed, the best strategy for Democrats is undoubtedly to hang back and not take pleasure in any and all struggles that Governor Palin may or may not have. Biden must not engage her and must be impressive in giving his own answers. And Democratic strategists and pundits must focus on Biden's answers and performance in their post-debate analysis. Indeed, it's the only way they can avoid the appearance of piling on or (worse yet) of trying to minimize what may be an acceptable performance in the eyes of some Americans. If Democrats can manage to stay out of their own glib, smartass ways over the next 24 hours, they will be rewarded with either a) a monumental victory or b) no real change in the status quo. Either must be regarded as a victory for Obama and Biden at this point, especially with just over a month to go.
And since The Common Man is ordering you not to enjoy any Palin gaffes over the next 24 hours, here's one from September by uber-douche Sean Hannity to tide you over. Enjoy watching Sean claim that the economy is doing just fine less than three weeks ago: