Joe, and Sarah Six-Pack

By Dana Milbank
Friday, October 3, 2008

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 2 This week, Sarah Palin gave a curious rationale for her candidacy. "It's time," the Republican vice presidential nominee said, "that normal Joe Six-Pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency."

When she took the stage Thursday night here at Washington University for the vice presidential debate, Sarah Six-Pack all but popped open a cold one. Wearing a glittery flag pin on her jacket, she blew a kiss toward the audience. She gave a wave that Tina Fey would probably describe as adorable. Then she regarded her Democratic foe, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"Nice to meet you," Palin told Joe Biden. "Hey, can I call you Joe?"

"You can call me Joe," the senator obliged.

"Okay, thanks," she said brightly.

"Thank you," Biden replied.

"Thank you," she told him again. "Thank you, Gwen," she told moderator Gwen Ifill. "Thank you, thank you, thank you," she told nobody in particular.

It was going to be a long evening.

Palin's intellectual fitness had been put into question by her disastrous interview with Katie Couric, which was filled with panicked silences, flustered non-answers and even a promise to get back to the interviewer with more information. But when Palin took the stage with Biden last night for what may have been the most public IQ test ever administered, she had no problem meeting the exceptionally low expectations. She had talking points adequate to fill the 90 seconds on the various topics Ifill tossed her way, and often forced Biden to defend Barack Obama.

On the other hand, it wasn't exactly a confidence-builder. Palin, in her 90 minutes on the stage Thursday night, left the firm impression that she is indeed ready to lead the nation -- with an unnerving mixture of platitudes and cute, folksy phrases that poured from her lips even when they bore no relation to the questions asked.

"Let's commit ourselves just everyday American people, Joe Six-Pack, hockey moms across the nation," she proposed when asked about the mortgage crisis.

"I want to go back to the energy plan," she said when asked about the federal bailout plan.

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