Watching the Biden-Palin debate in the Fiesta Room at El Penasco in Tempe, Ariz. on October 2, 2008 was indeed a fiesta. Hosted by Linna Thompson of Drinking Liberally, there was applause and laughter from the more than two dozen people but no booing like at previous watch parties.
While many people were members of Drinking Liberally, a nation-wide organization with more than 300 chapters, five in Arizona, many were also members of Progressive Democrats of America, True Majority, and similar organizations. Naturally they were all above drinking age except for one family with a babe in arms.
Before the debate began I talked with Eric Mitzel, a school teacher who said, "It seems like she [Palin] addresses a crowd that I'm not used to but I grew up in a city on the west -- on the left coast, as some people say -- so I don't really understand her. My opinion is that Biden is going to kick her barbie-butt all over, but that's just me."
After the debate Linna Thompson, the organizer of the event, said, "She kept tilting her head to the side, that's a flirting maneuver. When you do that you're flirting, you're not having a serious conversation. She's popular with Republican women because she's flirting with her man.
"I'm a professionally-trained speech pathologist. I work with families and as a vice president she is making her husband be a single-parent and that child will have physical therapy, speech therapy, development therapy; how is she going to pull this off? She's going to be busy, who's her backup? How does this embrace her family values?"
Eric Mitzel had this to say, "It was scripted: she [Palin] said what she wanted to say, but it wasn't genuine. I thought he [Biden] was genuine. But I don't think she gave a horrible performance."
Catherine Miller chimed in with, "He had an excellent summation but she didn't take advantage of being the last person to answer the question." To which Eric added, "He didn't let her have the moment."
Rachel Pollack, a member of Women in Black -- who had punctuated the debate with both her laughter and homemade lipstick-on-a-pig hand puppet -- added, "She gave the appearance of being genuine. Each little talking point was a bead and she'll string them together. Sometimes it would look like a pattern, sometimes it's completely incoherent."
Katherine Ingram had a wider viewpoint: "Everywhere across Europe when I traveled France, Italy, and Greece I was asked, Do you think -- as in hopeful -- do you think that Obama can win? And it was always this hope that America would stop going down the road we've been going down for the past eight years.