I remember watching the “sigh” debate between Al Gore and George W. Bush in 2000 and thinking that Gore cleaned Bush’s clock. On substantive debating points, he surely did beat Bush. But the debate nevertheless was a political disaster for Gore because voters regarded him, rightly, as the less normal human being. The Sarah Palin interview could play the same way, we’ll have to see.
Unfortunately, the problems that were evident in Bush’s debate responses came back to haunt us when it came to actual governing. In that sense, Palin’s performance is not encouraging. Even those of us who think it would be a good thing if more politicians had never heard of the Bush Doctrine have reason to be concerned — if she doesn’t bring any prior knowledge to the table here, she is going to be very influenced by whomever the McCain campaign sends to tutor her.