Here are a few fact-checks of Palin's performance last night:
Palin: "we also have John McCain to thank for bringing in a bipartisan effort people to the table so that we can start putting politics aside, even putting a campaign aside, and just do what's right to fix this economic problem that we are in."
Fact: In no way did McCain "put his campaign aside." (See ThinkProgress here and here.)
Palin: "Barack Obama and Senator Biden also voted for the largest tax increases in U.S. history."
Fact: I'm not sure what she's referring to, unless it's the expiration of Bush's temporary 2001 and 2003 tax cuts--which were sold to the public on the condition that they expire in 2010. As FactCheck noted in an article about McCain's similar (and similarly false) accusation during primary season:
"By the measure most economists prefer, McCain is wrong in his claim that Sens. Clinton and Obama want to implement "the single largest tax increase since the Second World War;" it would be the fifth largest. At a more basic level, it's misleading to tag Clinton and Obama for something that was scheduled during the Bush administration - the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, which by law will occur at the end of 2010"
Palin: "the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives"
Fact: If Palin thinks that her family is in the middle class, she's been hanging around the McCains for too long. As the AP noted, "The Palins' assets seem enviable: a half-million-dollar home on a lake with a float-plane at the dock, two vacation retreats, commercial-fishing rights worth an estimated $50,000 or more and an income last year of at least $230,000. That compares to a median income of $64,333 for Alaskans and $50,740 for Americans in 2007, according to the Census Bureau."
(An income of $230K puts the Palins within the top 2½% of American households.)
Palin: "Barack Obama still can't admit the surge works."
Fact: Actually, Obama said just that more than a month ago to Faux News:
"I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated...I've already said it's succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."
Palin: "I had a good conversation with him [Dr. Henry Kissinger] recently. And he shared with me his passion for diplomacy."
Like he shared it with Cambodia, Chile, and East Timor? I wouldn't meet Kissinger without handcuffs, leg irons, extradition papers, and a jet ready to take him to The Hague--but Palin apparently has a double standard for meeting with war criminals. (Republicans are OK; foreign heads of state are unacceptable...)
"...there's a time, too, when Americans are going to say, 'Enough is enough with your ticket,' on constantly looking backwards, and pointing fingers, and doing the blame game. There have been huge blunders in the war. There have been huge blunders throughout this administration, as there are with every administration.
But for a ticket that wants to talk about change and looking into the future, there's just too much finger-pointing backwards to ever make us believe that that's where you're going. Positive change is coming, though. Reform of government is coming. We'll learn from the past mistakes in this administration and other administrations."
Huh? She's going to "learn from past mistakes" without "looking backwards"....that's quite a trick. Later on, she tried again with "Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again," but repeating a talking point doesn't make it true.
Palin: "Oh, yeah, it's so obvious I'm a Washington outsider."
No, it's obvious that you don't know what you're talking about...but one-third of the country will still applaud your spurious accusations, misstatements, and question-dodging. Politico noted this morning:
...she got out alive, though there were white-knuckle moments along the way: questions that were answered with painfully obvious talking points that betrayed scant knowledge of the issue at hand and sometimes little relevance to the question that had been asked. [...]
On at least 10 occasions, Palin gave answers that were nonspecific, completely generic, pivoted away from the question at hand, or simply ignored it: on global warming, an Iraq exit strategy, Iran and Pakistan, Iranian diplomacy, Israel-Palestine (and a follow-up), the nuclear trigger, interventionism, Cheney's vice presidency and her own greatest weakness.
Palin called McCain a "maverick" four times and twice referred to his campaign as a "team of mavericks." (That makes as little sense as talking about "symphony of soloists," but let's leave that contradiction aside for a moment.) The incessant reference to John (90%) McCain as a "maverick" is a myth that has needed to be deflated for a long time; by the time Palin bragged that McCain has "taken shots left and right," I was about to start taking shots...the kind in short (or not-so-short) glasses. Thankfully, Biden had also had enough:
BIDEN: I'll be very brief. Can I respond to that?
Look, the maverick -- let's talk about the maverick John McCain is. And, again, I love him. He's been a maverick on some issues, but he has been no maverick on the things that matter to people's lives.
He voted four out of five times for George Bush's budget, which put us a half a trillion dollars in debt this year and over $3 trillion in debt since he's got there.
He has not been a maverick in providing health care for people. He has voted against -- he voted including another 3.6 million children in coverage of the existing health care plan, when he voted in the United States Senate.
He's not been a maverick when it comes to education. He has not supported tax cuts and significant changes for people being able to send their kids to college.
He's not been a maverick on the war. He's not been a maverick on virtually anything that genuinely affects the things that people really talk about around their kitchen table.
Can we send -- can we get Mom's MRI? Can we send Mary back to school next semester? We can't -- we can't make it. How are we going to heat the -- heat the house this winter?
He voted against even providing for what they call LIHEAP, for assistance to people, with oil prices going through the roof in the winter.
So maverick he is not on the important, critical issues that affect people at that kitchen table.
That was the highlight of the debate for me; the low point was when moderator Gwen Ifill failed to follow up on her question about same-sex couples. When Biden and Palin each expressed a lack of support for marriage equality--although both claim to support--Ifill just let it drop: "Wonderful. You agree. On that note, let's move to foreign policy." In doing so, she overlooked a major difference between the campaigns: the Obama ticket supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and would end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the "Defense" of Marriage Act.
As a side note, Palin was wildly inconsistent in her pronunciation of "nuclear," sometimes getting it right and sometimes using Bushspeak ("nuke-ulur"). Offhand, I'd estimate her ratio at about 1:1, which leads me to suspect that she was unaware of the correct pronunciation until fairly recently. (I'm guessing about five weeks or so...)
Palin proved that she could regurgitate a string of talking points until her 90 seconds were up, but she had little of substance to say...and a folksy delivery only goes so far. (Among the talking points that she refused to relinquish in the face of the facts were "Obama will raise your taxes," "Obama voted against funding the troops," and "Obama will sit down with dictators." Her incessant repetitions of them became increasingly nauseating as the evening wore on.)
Ron Chusid has an excellent analysis at Liberal Values, with this observation:
At one point Palin said, "I think we need a little bit of reality from Wasilla Main Street there, brought to Washington, D.C." Does she mean bring the reality of the metamphetamine capital of Alaska to Washington, D.C.? The idea that "reality from Wasilla Main Street" is any substitute for actual knowledge of the issues contributed to Palin's defeat in the debate.
I don't want to see Palin in another campaign debate.
For any office.
CNN's transcript of the debate is here
FactCheck's analysis is here