We watched the Biden/Palin debate on this cool early October night with two friends at our restored farm house in Highland, a small town in northwestern Indiana, down the street from steel mills, casinos, oil refineries and in the nearby shadow of Chicago. This area has been
hit in short order by a tornado followed by severe flooding that resulted in the area being declared a disaster area. We chose not to go to a formal debate party so that we could make dinner for our friend who is a citizen of the US but lives and works in Europe as a professional classical musician. (He returned to supervise repair to damage done to his house by the tornado). We talked about the economy during dinner-our friend pointed out that the US dollar is incredibly weak and that the events of the past few weeks have had an impact on
credit and banks worldwide. Another friend joined us after dinner and she watched the debate with us. The four of us are all white, ages ranged from 53 to 61; two men and two women.
Comments before the debate were about Sarah Palin, that she was clearly not ready to be vice president based on her press interviews. Aspects of the debate that upset the group were Palin's constant use of bad syntax (we had agreed to drink a sip of wine every time she
said, "maverick") and refusing to answer questions. When Palin went off the subject for about the tenth time, one of our guests said "SHUT UP! " to the television. When Palin claimed she took on the oil companies, one of the male guests put his fists up in the air, mocking
her. When she continued to smile even when Senator Biden choked up talking about his children, one of the female guests said, "I want to slap that smile off her face." Comments about Biden were "he was a gentleman, " and relief that he answered the questions seriously and with detailed facts. The group cheered when Biden called out Palin on the claim that McCain has been a maverick. One of the men commented, "he hammered him." When Palin claimed Alaska to be the "heartland of America" we all screamed with disbelief. All of us were impressed with moderator Gwen Iffil, our guest who lives in Europe said she should replace Katie Couric as a journalist doing interviews.
Reaction to the campaign post -debate spin and pundits was a lot of laughter at Rachel Maddow's comments that Sarah Palin "recited her points like she was at a spelling bee." When Pat Buchanan talked about how attractive she was, claiming she won the debate, one guest said, "yeah, she's a babe" sarcastically. In reaction to the debate, the group related to Joe Biden's use of specific facts and how well he actually answered the questions and were appalled at how often Palin refused to answer questions. During the debate, we also became
somewhat fascinated with CNN's bar graph showing undecided voter's responses by gender to the candidate's comments- it seemed to us that Biden consistently rated higher among the undecided of both genders- several times, the men in our group said "she (Palin) is flat lining
among the undecideds." Our group includes a previously non politically active independent who is now an enthusiastic Obama supporter, an activist (both within the Democratic party and outside of it) who is an enthusiastic Obama supporter and volunteer, a moderate voter who
supports Obama but has not volunteered and our friend who lives in Europe but is rooting for Obama.