And the clear winner in Thursday' night's vice presidential debate was -- Gwen Ifill, the moderator.
Ifill was barely mentioned in the post-mortems of the debate between Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
And when you're the moderator, there can't be much better praise than that.
Ifill, who has said she spent her "formulative years" through the fourth grade in Buffalo (her father was a minister here), made irrelevant all the pre-debate speculation from conservatives about whether she could be impartial because she is writing a book that will include material on Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
Much of the post-debate analysis pretty much went to form Thursday. Republican strategists -- notably CNN's Ed Rollins -- were thrilled about Gov. Palin's ability to exceed expectations. Rollins predicted that Gov. Palin would win the debate and gave her such high marks during CNN's point system that it almost became laughable. Rollins' scorecard gave Gov. Palin 48 points to 22 for Sen. Biden. He was the only one on six CNN scorecards to have her ahead on points and he gave her at least 24 points more than anyone else did.
Predictably, CNN's Democratic strategists praised Sen. Biden's performance and gave him a significant point victory, though the highest-point total he received was 37.
There was much praise for Gov. Palin from analysts on all the networks. But the first polls gave Sen. Biden a significant advantage. A CNN poll of viewers watching the debate scored it 51 percent to 36 percent for Sen. Biden. A CBS poll of uncommitted voters scored it 46 percent to 21 percent for Sen. Biden, with 33 percent calling it a tie.
-- Alan Pergament