Good Old Boy #74: the moment the VP debate was won
Apparently as many as 70 million Americans watched the debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin last night.
Now the conventional wisdom is that Democratic Party candidates emphasise facts and appeals to reason, whereas Republicans understand that what matters is appealing to the emotions of the viewers. And it was certainly the case that Biden knew a lot more facts about the subjects under discussion, whereas Palin recited the talking points which she had memorised, and even refused to answer questions if she didn't want to.
But the real stand out moment of the debate wasn't the almost embarrassing gulf between how much each of the candidates knew. It took less than a minute, and can be seen here.
"BIDEN: 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.
I understand what it's like to sit around the kitchen table with a father who says, "I've got to leave, champ, because there's no jobs here. I got to head down to Wilmington. And when we get enough money, honey, we'll bring you down."
I understand what it's like. I'm much better off than almost all Americans now. I get a good salary with the United States Senate. I live in a beautiful house that's my total investment that I have. So I -- I am much better off now.
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.
I understand, as well as, with all due respect, the governor or anybody else, what it's like for those people sitting around that kitchen table. And guess what? They're looking for help. They're looking for help. They're not looking for more of the same."
As he talks about raising his kids and not being sure if they're going to make it, he is obviously fighting back tears. It's the sort of emotional moment where people who are half watching stop whatever else they are doing to focus all their attention on the telly.
And Palin's response? Not a word of sympathy, not a word of compassion from one parent to another, but instead a big cheesy grin and straight into talking about what a maverick John McCain is.
Anyone watching just that small clip, even if they didn't get to see any of the rest of it, would have known in their heart that one of the people they were watching really got what things were like for ordinary Americans, and one was just a political hack.