On the VP debateI actually listened to about half the vice-presidential debate last night. The main advantage is that it did not include the infuriating voice of George W. Bush. At least Cheney knows what he's talking about, even if he's dead wrong. It was a good debate. An actual debate. I liked the occasional sarcasm between the two candidates. Opponents aren't supposed to like each other, but when they criticize each other, mild sarcasm is much more effective than losing your temper. Nearly every question's first 'response' began with: "Before I answer that I'd like to answer what [the other guy] just said." But in fairness, they both did a better job actually answering the moderator's questions than Bush did in the first debate. Staying "on message" is one thing but it loses its effectiveness if you sound like a robot.
Vice-President Cheney came across as a paternal figure (the real brains of the administration). GOP attempts to paint Sen. Edwards as a sleazy trial lawyer were undermined by the senator's demeanor. It's hard to portrary a guy as having devil horns when he says 'thank you' every time the moderator addresses him and stubbornly refers to his opponent as 'sir.' People forget that trial lawyers have to be good actors. That's why they make good politicians.
Cheney said that debate was the first time he'd met Edwards. Democrats put out a photo of the two shaking hands. There's also a transcript floating around of Cheney's comments to a prayer breakfast where he explicitly thanks Sen. Edwards. It's one thing to stretch the truth or distort, but if you're going to outright lie about something as ancilliary as this, how can you be trusted on bigger stuff?
Cheney's apparent bald faced lie aside, I think both candidates got what they wanted out of this debate. Cheney showed that yes, there is someone in the administration's highest levels who might possibly know what he's doing. Edwards hammered home the theme that vast experience does not necessarily translate into good judgement.