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Debating the Debate: The Pundits

So who won the debate last night — Sen. Joe Biden or Gov. Sarah Palin? That depends on who you ask (or who you poll). But one thing appeared clear: the prediction on the cablers of a fireworks-filled gaffe-fest was greatly overblown. As Chris Wallace put it on FNC minutes before the debate, people were wondering “which driver is going to run their car into the wall at turn three.” A round-up of pundit post-mortem:

• The Los Angeles Times’ Mary McNamara sums it all up. “The vice presidential debate scheduled for last night didn’t happen — at least not as envisioned by media observers with their characteristic mix of glee and dread,” she writes. She points to the “most memorable” debate moment as the “look of confusion on the face of the network commentators after the debate they had spent days rattling on about failed to materialize.”

David Bauder of the Associated Press highlights the change in tone from before and after the debate. “The absence of train wrecks led some pundits to wonder whether the contest, probably the most anticipated vice presidential debate in history, will quickly be forgotten,” he writes. Bauder also notes the difference in instant polling, noting on Frank Luntz‘ FNC panel “almost everyone picked Palin,” as the winner, and “a click away on CNN,” the panel, nine out of 10 made their mind up to vote Obama after the debate.

• FNC anchor Greta Van Susteren gave her take of snap punditry on Gretawire: “Why does the public hate us?” she asks rhetorically of journalists. “In large part arrogance.” She took umbrage with a Washington Post headline written within an hour of the debate concluding, that read “Palin Delivers, But Doubts Linger.”

And along the lines of quick declarations, Rudy Giuliani, appearing on Hannity & Colmes, also within an hour of the debate concluding, said that this was “one of the best debate performances” he’d ever seen. “Only the liberal media could deny her this victory,” he said.

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