Dear Sen. Biden:
You have a problem. In less than a month, you will face off against Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in a vice-presidential debate in St. Louis, and were you anyone but Joe Biden, it would likely be a rout. Last week, Palin proved herself a charming, confident, and gifted reader of speeches. But that doesn’t change the fact that two years ago she was the mayor of a town of 6,000, crusading against dirty books at the local library. You are a six-term senator and chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee. World leaders routinely friend you, unbidden, on Facebook (“Wait â€¦ Is this the Angela Merkel?”). World leaders had never heard of Gov. Palin until last Friday.
That’s your problem, Joe. Everyone expects you to win the debate, and to trounce her on the substance. But the rules for debating Gov. Palin are different. If you lecture her, you’ll be seen as a sexist bully. If you act too smart, you’ll be seen as a sexist bully. If you condescend to her, you’ll be seen as a sexist bully. So this longtime parliamentary debater (and longer-time female) is going to humbly offer you a few tips on how to debate a girl.