That's my view of the VP debate last night. Biden didn't commit a gaffe, and Palin showed that she could get through a debate, but I don't think we learned much about them or their positions.
I'd say it was pretty much a toss up. Biden won against Biden, because he was pretty sharp and avoided all the pitfalls. Palin won against Palin because she showed that with a week to prepare and a ridiculous debate format she could sound coherent.
I'm most annoyed about the format, and somewhat with the moderator. The format was set up to be mostly a series of 90 second speeches, and that's what we got. Gwen Ifill asked only a couple of questions that Palin didn't anticipate, and on those two Palin did stammer and give non-answers, but just the two.
Palin flat out refused to answer several questions, or gave quick non-answers, then got back to her mini-speeches. I think Ifill should have cut her off and said, "You're not answering the question." Example; Ifill asked "What is your Achilles heel." Palin just rattled off a list of her strengths. Ifill should have cut her off and refocused Palin on the question.
The debate agrees on a format, centered around somebody asking questions, and the candidate answering them. That's the deal. I ask in the structure we agreed on, and you answer, in the agreed structure. Questions on certain agreed topics, set times for the answer, set times for the rebuttal. But, once somebody breaks the deal, I say all bets are off. That is, once a candidate refuses to answer a question, I think the moderator is then free to conduct the debate however she or he desires.
Palin on one hand talked about how Joe Six Pack and hockey moms need to band together and make sure nothing like the financial crises ever happens again. That's it. That's the extent of her thinking. When she also touted herself and McCain as reformers who believe that "government needs to get off our backs and get out of the way," she wasn't asked to square that anti-government stance with the need for Wall Street regulation.
These debates are, mostly, a waste of time for informed voters. Low information voters might some better sense of the candidates, but won't learn anything specific. Could anyone listen to Palin say "you betcha," watch her wink at the audience, and think "There's the leader of the free world?"
Update: Palin came across to me as one of those dolls where you pull the string at its neck and the doll recites some sound bite. No thought, just recitation.