October 2nd, 2008
08:42 PM ET
10 years ago

Toobin: Not so great expectations

Expectations are low for tonight's debate.

Expectations are low for tonight's debate.

(CNN)–One word we're sure to hear a great deal tonight is "expectations." Either Biden or Palin "exceeded" or "failed to live up" to expectations. Well, I have a question. Who sets these expectations? Who is the executive director of debate expectations, and who gave him (or her) that job?

There is no such person, of course, and that's part of the problem with this whole concept. I think the whole notion of expectations is a fraud - a device which journalists used to enhance their own importance.

In this debate, of course, we've heard a lot about how Palin has "low" expectations because she has performed so poorly in recent interviews. But why is this so?

Both she and Biden are running for the same office. Shouldn't the expectations be the same for both? I think they should. But - listen carefully tonight - I think I'm in the distinct minority.

soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Wendy in NC

    If Palin wears her hair down and a boxy jacket, be on the lookout for the hidden earphone. There is no way she can give a lucid answer on her own.

    October 2, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  2. jayeandvic

    I have breaking news:
    Palin is going to say she wouldn't vote on the bailout.
    You heard it here first. 🙂

    October 2, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  3. RapidRay

    One word we're sure to hear a great deal tonight is...

    But no one's going to define what the fundamentals consist of.

    I lay money on it being the most prevalent word of the night.

    Countdown is at T munus 15 minutes. Just enough time to make some popcorn. This might beat Blazing Saddles for the most laughs in a 90 minute show.

    I'm gone...

    October 2, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  4. Shirley-Ohio

    McCain needs to find a new way to win because this debate is not going to give him any momentum. Sarah is not ready, she simply is not ready to be vice president. She is not going to get by this time like Bush and Qualye did because everyone is watching.

    October 2, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  5. j

    Considering that these two people could conceivably become president, should something happen during the presidency, careful attention must be paid to how they handle themselves during the debate.

    October 2, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  6. james

    Expectations should be high, Palin will have to deal directly in international affairs. I am a federal worker and would be fired if expectations of me were so low. They are in line to be president and in these times we cannot afford mediocre performance.

    October 2, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  7. AA

    Hi Jeff,

    Agreed. Not only is it ridiculous to play the silly "oh at least she didn't" game, I think that Biden should go for her throat (figuratively) at the very first sign of talking points or inevitable nonsense that is going to come out of her mouth.

    He could clear the air for the entire country by politely looking at her and saying one thing...

    I'm sorry I don't quite understand, please explain your position.

    That would end it.


    October 2, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  8. Larry

    Why wont anyone bring up the reverse discrimination going on with this debate. Why is it OK for Palin to make mean comments, biting remarks, or be condesending and if Biden does it is sexist.

    October 2, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  9. deletha reid

    both sarah and joe will do the best they can for there ticket,

    peoples mind are already made up . there is no swing voters out

    i dont think thats true,.

    my personal opinion is this everyone has pretty much decided who they will vote for.

    October 2, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  10. Shirley-Ohio

    I really think she will drop out of this debate at the start of this debate. She has all ready been made a fool of and I just can't and won't believe that McCain will put her through this.

    October 2, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  11. barack obama

    Palin is a dope.

    October 2, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  12. tatanka

    So what the vp job isn't anything until something happens to the prez. The mccain palin show reminds me of the dean martin jerry lewis show all blow and no go. Neither one is qualified to be chief.

    October 2, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  13. ems

    When I look at McCain, I see Bush. If you vote for McCain, you have liked what has happened the last 8 years. Vote for Obama/Biden and get this country back on track. Yea Obama!!!!!!Yea Biden!!!!!

    October 2, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  14. Marilyn

    I am with you Jeffrey. All of this is becoming depressing and is really unnecessary.

    October 2, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  15. freshdem15

    Her hair is down to hide the wire

    October 2, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  16. Ashley

    I agree with you! Too much is being made of "expectations". Both should stand equally on the political playing field. I am interested to see what journalists and pundits will say after the debate. Perhaps journalists reactions will help us viewers define what particular expectations the media have for both candidates.

    October 2, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  17. Junakirii

    Thank you, Mr. Toobin, for pointing this out. All too frequently, a bar that should be set high for all candidates is lowered by campaign handlers and media commentators.

    October 2, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  18. LB-NJ

    The problem is that it has not been the same. The Liberal media has leeched on to Palin-mocking belittleling, disrespecting her in each and every way. They have not done that to any of the other candidates. I really think it's sexist and it's pathetic!

    October 2, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  19. Lance

    If expectations are not high then, this is not a race for the second most important position in America.

    October 2, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  20. Noel D

    I definitely agree with what you wrote Jeffrey...the playing field of "expectations" should be set as evenly across the board as possible...also, when someone is openly expected to do poorly in any event, inevitably if that person merely holds their own, it is much more likely to appear as a success, even if the other party performs much better...

    October 2, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  21. Trindell S. Miller

    Where has the concepts gone? "Women, equal work equal pay".
    I hear a lot of you feel women should be treated different even though they have the same job and getting the same pay.

    October 2, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  22. nate

    Pray for widespread racism Repubs (of course you already do everyday). Its the only chance you have left.

    October 2, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  23. TheWorldWeLiveIn

    Unfortunately, Palin has performed so poorly thus far it will be hard not to be impressed if she actually gets through the debate without rambling or being evasive when she so clearly does not know the answer to the question. I just hope the American people are savy enough to know BS when they hear it.

    October 2, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  24. voter

    as a woman, I am disappointed on the low expectations people are given Palin. She is running for the second highest office in the land. She should be asked the same questions as any other candidate. Palin should not be give softball quesitons because she is a woman and hasn't been in the public eye before. This is nonsense because the world leaders are not going to treat her with kid gloves. Palin should have a foundation on the issues. If not, then she should not be running for vp.

    October 2, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  25. Minnesotan for Dems

    I feel for Biden, he is going to have to be debating Palin with kids gloves, if he challenges her or says something to discredit something she says, the Mccain camp will cry FOUL... But you can bet that Palin will go at it with everything she has to discredit Biden, and she will get away with it, only because she is a woman.. Then again, maybe all the blundering she has done in her past interviews were just a ruse, to make people think she is dimwitted.. She might be holding back until tonight when she open fires on the issues..

    October 2, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
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