03 October 2008

Joe Biden Cried Last Night. Or, Things Have Changed

Last night, Gwen Ifill asked Biden and Palin to talk about their respective "Achilles' Heels," noting that "conventional wisdom" has it that Palin lacks experience, while Biden lacks discipline.
In response, Palin mentioned her experience as governor of the "huge state" of Alaska (with a population of under 700,000, just a bit bigger than Washington, DC) and then moved quickly to her experience as the mother of a son about to be deployed to Iraq and another with "special needs." (What happened to the three daughters?)

Biden responded that after 35 years in the Senate, "People can judge who I am." He talked some more about his record, and then added:

Look, I understand what it's like to be a single parent. When my wife and daughter died and my two sons were gravely injured, I understand what it's like as a parent to wonder what it's like if your kid's going to make it.... But the notion that somehow, because I'm a man, I don't know what it's like to raise two kids alone, I don't know what it's like to have a child you're not sure is going to -- is going to make it -- I understand.

He choked up. He blinked away tears. He moved on. To me, that shows more profoundly than McCain's choice of a completely inexperienced woman as a running mate, that my parents' generation changed America. (Thanks, Mom and Dad.)

It's not 1972, and Joe Biden is not Ed Muskie. Responding to attacks on his wife, Muskie choked up during a speech. The press reported that he cried, and his already faltering presidential bid was derailed among claims that he was too emotional to serve.

While Palin uttered platitudes, Joe Biden showed himself as a man of emotional as well as intellectual depth. To me, the debate felt like an adult conversation between Biden and Ifill, with Palin refusing to answer questions and instead pleading with Americans, "look at me!"

If you're looking for a full transcript and/or video of the debate, the New York Times has them here.