Let me just point out at the outset of this post that I am not entirely sober. I was following my own drinking game (see below), and while it wasn't exactly a liver-smasher, it was enough when combined with my own extracurricular sipping (I do love that Racer 5) to leave me unsafe to drive. But thankfully, there's no breathalizer test for blogging...
My own reaction is that the debate was a wash. I think Biden sounded better altogether, but I'm the choir he was preaching to. Palin didn't fall on her ass but she looked a little stiff. Biden didn't do anything stupid but he didn't deliver any knockout blows. The people I was watching with really wanted to see him lay the smack down. I kept saying that he simply needed to stay calm and static at the level where he ordinarily lives (high competence). As long as Biden didn't blow it, and Palin didn't dazzle, the night was good for the campaign surging in the polls.
and so it went. Biden humanized himself without pandering or looking like he was trying to do so. Palin talked in complete sentences without having to punt on any questions. That was all they had to do to keep things in stasis. And stasis is a good place for the Obama campaign.
One thing that Biden did well, that I would advise Obama-favoring pundits to do (myself included-yay for the internet, I'm a pundit!), was to keep the focus on John McCain. Palin's a distraction. She's only relevant insofar as her presence on the ticket reflects on McCain's ability to make good decisions in clutch situations. It's all about McCain, and Palin's performance tonight didn't do anything to erase the Couric-interview-based indications that McCain did a bad job on the first major presidential decision he was faced with.
In other words, I feel alright tonight. And I don't expect that good feeling to dissipate.