The Vice-Presidential Debate

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Joe Biden has a problem: he has to debate the Ueberfrau of all time. Sarah Palin is far more famous for being a woman than for being a politician. But it will take delicate handling to not come across as disrespecting sacred womanhood. He needs to treat her like a serious candidate without giving her credibility. But if he is seen as attacking her, people will react as if he were a sexist bully. And we all know that it’s not right to hit a woman, even metaphorically.

What Biden needs to do is show that he is the real champion of women’s rights, without coming out and saying that she isn’t. Biden has a great record on women’s rights, but if he tries to pump himself up by saying so, it will look condescending. No one will believe that a man can know women’s minds better than a woman can. He has to come across as her equal, not make her seem like she’s not his.

Palin will probably try to make Biden look like he’s part of the corrupt, old-boy’s network that she proposes to counteract. Biden needs to sidestep her attempts while not letting go of the fact that he has far more experience and knowledge than she does. He has to explain who he is not who she isn’t. So far the average person knows a helluva lot more about Palin than he does about Biden. Biden needs to let us get to know him; that’s the only way to counter Palin’s recent celebrity. (It’s interesting that McCain has created exactly what he criticized Obama for being.)

I’m not saying that it will be easy. In fact, I think it will be damn hard. But America needs to see Biden as a real person, the way they think they see Palin. Good luck, Joe Biden. You’re going to need it.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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