If Sarah Palin is still upright, and still on the ticket, at the end of tonight's debate, she'll be counted as the winner.
Fortunately, the people for whom the debate matters--those who are still working on who to vote for--will not score the debate like a baseball game. They will watch it to figure out which ticket to support. Which, as we might easily forget, is the purpose of the exercise.
A friend suggests that he'd like the candidates--principally Palin, of course, to be asked, "Apart from the Bible, what books do you find meaningful?" I hope that question is asked.
I'd like Palin to be asked if she's actually seen Russia and, if so, what that has done for her understanding of the world. Biden, who has actually done a lot of travelling, might be asked what the hell good it does to touch down in a country for a day or two, to be feted by its leaders and taken on a guided tour.
I'd like the candidates to be asked this question (again, it focuses more on Palin than Biden, but there is relevance to both): If the person at the head of your ticket were to die or become incapacitated on January 20, 2009, you would immediately become President. Have you given any thought to what you would do in such a situation? In particular, each of you has differed on some issues with the candidate who heads your ticket. Would you continue the policies of the man elected president this year, even though you have disagreed with them in the past, or do you believe that your succession to the office would justify taking up different policies?
Finally, the question that I'd REALLY like to be asked--although more to the presidential than the vice-presidential candidates. It is not of my devising, but comes from Fr. Guido Sarducci, a/k/a Don Novello, who was asked in 1976 0r 1980 by, I think, Tom Brokaw, what he would ask if he were on the debate panel. In his inimitable fashion (which I am about to imitate, without apology), Fr. Sarducci replied, "I'd aska de candidates, 'Iffa you coulda be an animal, whata kinda animal woulda you be?'"
Are you smiling, maybe a little? I suggest that that would actually be a very good question to ask, precisely because it is so outlandish that it would cut through the preparation and the talking points to give us a glimpse, however brief, of the real person behind the candidate.
Our comment line is open for your ideas about questions.