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. cyril perez

    you are certainly not in the minority. i cannot understand why we should have low expectations from someone who wants to be a heartbeat away from the presidency when considering that this is the only debate for the vice presidential nominees. what are we going to tell our children who want to aspire to the highest land " son/daughter it's ok, you don't have to have much expectations, keep your expectations low". what a sham. shame on you republicans.

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

    Jeffrey it is so nice to read a sane piece of journalism.
    It is appalling and scary that a such low expectations are
    even considered acceptable.

    October 2, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  3. Thomas Garza

    Thank you, Jeffrey Toobin, for being the voice of reason and for the reality check on the Palin/Couric interview. Putting together a complete sentence - let alone a cogent thought - should be a primary qualification for a US vice president and possible president. Indeed, it was from her party's Ronald Reagan that the notion of the nation's leader as a "Great Communicator" was coined. Palin needs to be a great deal more than an outsider to be a viable candidate.

    October 2, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  4. Nia Hussein- Phoenix, AZ

    hummmm the hair is down... ear piece? Conspiracy theory I know...but when has hse ever worn her hair down....

    October 2, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  5. Greg FL.

    Well stated. I want to know why if Palin just shows up and doesn't screw up. That would be a win for her. I find that utterly unacceptable. I don't want to see a VP and potential President that just shows up and doesn't screw up.

    October 2, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  6. Noel D

    Trindell S. Miller wrote:

    "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."


    I agree...I am 100% for gender equality...but it is a two-edged sword...if you want equal opportunity, equal respect & equal gender, than the "expectations" should be set the same, regardless of gender...

    October 2, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  7. Joni

    Absolutely, the expectations should be the same for the two candidates. They are both applicants for the job, such as it is, of VP of the US. I would hope they would bring all they've got to the interview.

    October 2, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  8. Sandi from Ada, Michigan

    Thank you!!!!

    In 2000 and 2004, the American people chose the "guy you would want to have a beer with"...look where that got us!

    Let's have high expectations this time..."the average Joe" just isn't good enough right now...we need great leadership in these tough times.

    October 2, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  9. Cedric Deadmon

    Gov. Palin has been prepped and dipped into a bask of McCainism for this debate......I hope that the country will see her for what she is tonight. The possibility of this woman becoming the vp and possibly the president is scary.

    October 2, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  10. hengam

    I agree with Jeff, harder questions are asked for citizenship test and she could not even make her supreme court quetion answere. she was asked which VP you like in the past she says G. ferrarro?????

    Sara Paline has bigger issues to deal with on a national stage.

    I think if you want to apply for a job you should be able to handle 10 hours interview (at least) and not stop talking.

    Please why stop making excuses for her lack of knowlege. I cannot believe how she became the governeor of Alaska in the first place.


    October 2, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  11. Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    I think it is shameful that a VP candidate has such low expectations.

    October 2, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  12. Ron was a REP now a DEM

    How low do we need to go before we cry ouch. We desreve more from our leaders than tip toeing so we don't weed out the weak.

    second time trying to post

    October 2, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  13. Citizen AJ - Northern Virginia

    It is amazing how when the "liberal media" was bashing the heck out of Senator Obama they weren't so "liberal" and were "just reporting the news". Now, because they are "reporting the news" on the republican candidate, they are liberal. Like Senator McCain and his sorry campaign, you will say anything to support your pitiful agenda. Pitiful, because if these two are elected into the white house, woe unto us!

    The media and the McCain-Palin campaign have dumb down this debate to point that it will not matter how the candidates perform because they have lowered America's expectations. This is ridiculous and typical of how the republican party has campaigned, at least the last 8 years.

    Sarah Palin was clueless on the issues when interviewed by Gibson and Couric because she has no background on them. Come on America, 8 is enough!!!

    October 2, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  14. kris

    I do remeber in 1988 when Joe Bidden had to step down from running for President because of his plagiarism. so he will need to watch it.

    October 2, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  15. Kat

    I believe the expectations of the American people are high and rightly so. Both of these individuals are aspiring to a political office that could possibly lead to the Presidency. They had better have not partial command, but full command of the issues that are crucial to running our country, or they have no business serving beside the commander in chief.

    October 2, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  16. leslie ungar

    raise the bar! as a communication coach, I want a VP who can
    walk, talk, and answer questions with intelligence.

    intelligence is not a dirty world

    October 2, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  17. L. Read

    Expectations? I expect that since Sarah Palin has made energetically moral and very strong decisions in both her personal and political life so far she will continue to do so. If she is weak in some political areas there are plenty of competent advisors to brief or teach her. She needs no coaching when it comes to trying as hard as she can to do the right thing. The fact is that she is a strong, moral human being who has dedicated much of her life to public service while not losing sight of her commitments to her family. I see no bad decisions there.
    What counts more, being slick or being truly moral?
    L. Read
    McArthur, Califonia

    October 2, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  18. Terri-Ann, TX

    Thank you Jeffrey Toobin.

    October 2, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  19. OBAMA'08

    I would hope the McCain Campaign would not use an earphone, however; I wouldn't put it past them.... I think the American public would be able to tell because she wouldn't be able to keep up with what she is being feed, we will all know!

    October 2, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  20. Jona

    It doesn't matter what she has to say... she has shown how intelligent she is... oh god she want to call him JOE?

    October 2, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  21. Terri-Ann, TX

    Okay...isn't his name Joe? Why would she ask if she can call him Joe?

    October 2, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  22. anyonmous

    obama need to win colorodo and he can win in november

    October 2, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  23. Tracy

    Hey – can I call you Joe? I'm already annoyed...

    October 2, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  24. julie Ruikka

    Many seem VERY concerned by the idea of Palin being the default President. Is anyone concerned about the fact the default President on the other side has been rejected as a Presidential Candidate more than once? .The fact that the country does not want JOE BIDEN as President I is very clear. We have already voted. So how is this a valid issue?

    October 2, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  25. Amber

    I am an Independent. Sarah Palin needs to prove to me that she has a grasp of the problems our country is facing. She needs to clear and put a sentence together. If you guys think that Idependent voters are going to vote for McCain/ Palin becasue she has a nice smile and she is "Hockey mom" you are all off.

    October 2, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
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