Palin’s Dukakis Moment?

Biden, making the case that he understands as well as anyone the “kitchen table” issues that face Americans, choked up last night when referring the struggles raising children as a single parent, and not knowing whether or not your “child is going to make it.” A very human moment for him.

Palin’s reponse? “John McCain.”

Her response is, in many ways, reminiscent of Michael Dukakis’s ice cold response to question in the 1988 Presidential campaign, about capital punishment. Conventional wisdom holds that response as one of the key factors in his loss to Vice-President Bush.

Was this Palin’s Dukakis moment?

At face value, absolutely it was. Yet I’m not sure it will register that way, or even matter. Palin’s expectations coming into the debate were so low, I don’t think anyone was really judging her on her debate skills; that is, on how she and Biden would and could create a back-and-forth discussion. The fact that she had an answer, any answer, met the bar.

And, quite frankly, I don’t even think Palin was listening to what Biden said. I think she had her script laid out, and her challenge for the night was to make sure her scripted answers at least tangentially matched the question at hand.

That said, people noticed this moment in the debate as Biden’s strongest. David Brooks, if I can quote David Brooks (!!!), on PBS said:

When he talked about his family and the death of his wife, that is a moment people remember, what they remember about the debates is the moment when you think you see the person and that was a moment where I thought you saw Joe Biden.

And he’s right. That was the moment that people are going to remember about this debate.

What’s not clear is how many will remember Palin’s response.

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