Palin's Debate Reviews Are In ...

In essence, the mainstream media reviews of Sarah Palin's competent performance in the vice presidential debate actually didn't much differ from those of the conservative media, although the implications of her mastery of the debate format were hotly disputed.

In short, she beat the spread and defied expectations.

From the Chicago Sun-Times

Gov. Sarah Palin reminded Americans on Thursday night why so many of them greeted her rise to national prominence with enthusiasm when John McCain picked her as his running mate.

Appearing assertive and confident in her national debate premiere, Palin battled Sen. Joseph Biden on a broad range of issues -- the Wall Street meltdown, taxes and spending, Iraq, foreign relations, which candidate best represents change -- and more than held her own.

From the Denver Post:

Palin spoke with clarity and confidence and got to the heart of the matter with the kind of populist candor she displayed at the Republican National Convention. "Go to a kid's soccer game on Saturday and ask any parent what they think about the economy, and I betcha you're going to hear about fear," Palin said. "Our economy is hurting."

Much later, Palin was even confident enough to take a swipe at Biden with a line from former President Ronald Reagan. Palin's intent was to argue that Barack Obama wasn't forward-looking, but merely critical of President Bush.

With a big grin, she said: "Say it ain't so, Joe. There you go again. You're still pointing backwards."

Even the New York Times couldn't deny her credit:

She didn't answer questions directly, but she spoke out with self-assurance and even cockiness, correcting Mr. Biden when he tried to repeat the Republicans' slogan about oil exploration in Alaska. "The chant is ‘drill, baby, drill,' " she said. And Ms. Palin was the one who set the tone, making Mr. Biden sound stuffy before he had a chance to make her look unsteady. She bounded onto the stage, shook hands with her opponent and said brightly, "Hey, can I call you Joe?"

Washington veteran reporter (the other) Roger Simon of Politico raved:

She not only kept Joe Biden on the defensive for much of the debate, she not only repeatedly attacked Barack Obama, but she looked like she was enjoying herself while doing it. She smiled. She faced the camera. She was warm. She was human. Gosh and golly, she even dropped a bunch of g's. "John McCain doesn't tell one thing to one group and somethin' else to another," she said. "Those huge tax breaks aren't comin' to those huge multinational corporations." She said what she wanted to say, and she was so relaxed she even winked at one point. Really! An actual wink during a national debate, when she said she was going to try to get John McCain to change his mind about not drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Naturally, conservatives were beside themselves with glee -- their star's luster had been returned and they needn't hide under their covers in embarrassment. Peggy Noonan put it bluntly:

She killed. She had him at "Nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe?" She was the star. He was the second male lead, the good-natured best friend of the leading man. She was not petrified but peppy.

The blogosphere had plenty of fun with Joe Biden's long list of misstatements and fabrications. Whether on Iran, health care or the Constitution, Biden stretched and at times entirely abandoned the facts.