Last Thursday, the first -- and last -- vice presidential debate of the 2008 election aired on national television from Washington University in St. Louis and was immediately received as one of the most tempestuous spectacles of debate ever in American history. Or so many hoped, maybe wished, it had been.
In all actuality, and in disappointment to some, the debate, moderated by Gwen Ifill, between Sen. Joe Biden (D) of Delaware and Gov. Sarah Palin (R) of Alaska was one of cordial, memorized speech, scripted talking points, and direct criticisms of the two opposing presidential candidates, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain.
The two vice presidential candidates succeeded in what they needed to do: promote their party's presidential candidate while effectively questioning his/her opponent's answers and positions. Topics of the evening ranged from taxes, oil, energy sources, same-sex marriage, the environment, the economy, Iraq, Afghanistan, and interpretation of the role of the vice president. The topics were nothing out of the ordinary for an election season, yet within the days leading up to the VP debate, a sea of anticipation began to swell.
The build-up of curious energy accumulated due to the fact that it was Palin's national debut in a debate. She approached her first national debate well-rehearsed and determined to appeal to the commoner. She used folksy phrases like "heck of a lot," "Main Streeters like me" and variations on "darn." She stared straight at the camera while she talked, consistently smiled, and frequently stated that she was from Alaska, and not a Washington insider. Palin called McCain a maverick many times and declared that the Republican ticket is a "team of mavericks."
Biden, a six-term senator who twice attempted to win the presidential nomination, came across as collected and charismatic. He was respectful to Palin and made sure not to appear condescending in any way. At one point during the debate, Biden addressed his opponent as "Sarah Palin" then quickly corrected the phrase and changed it to "Gov. Sarah Palin." When attacking McCain and his policies in the beginning of the debate Biden, first stated that he liked and respected McCain as a person. After the respectful disclaimer, he dissected McCain's polices and countered with Obama's.
The debate was even-tempered and respectful. The only real change in voices came when Biden had the emotion high point while talking about raising his two sons after his wife and daughter died in a car crash.
This vice presidential debate, while not quite holding up to all the anticipation it accumulated, was entertaining. It introduced a nation to the potential next vice president.
Kate Calleri is a senior at Kenmore West.