Keryn and I watched the debate last night at the Alamo Drafthouse, an Austin movie theater chain that serves food and beer. Since, as I expected, the theater was mostly full of cheering and heckling Democrats, the evening was a fun one. There were a few scattered Republicans, and we happened to be sitting near some of the loudest -- a young couple, looked about college age, the girl was wearing a Palin shirt which my sister noticed immediately. Keryn apologized in advance for the expected rowdiness, and they said "No problem, you get used to it as a Republican in Austin." They acknowledged that everyone can yell as loud as they want without anyone's feelings being hurt.
I had pizza, Shiner Bock, and pecan pie a la mode. We also got a large bowl of popcorn, which we would have liked to throw, but there were too many people in the theater of course (it was sold out). We also received free bingo cards when we came in, with randomized spaces saying things like "Ahmadinejad," "Promise not to raise taxes," "Fannie and Freddy," "Hand chopping other hand gesture," and "Palin cries." I didn't expect that Biden would be the only one to cry, but he was.
The screen was tuned to CNN, so we got the little graph showing instant feedback about how undecided voters said they were feeling. I found it kind of mesmerizing on the giant screen, like one of those screen savers you can't stop watching. Biden got very positive results.
Anyway, there was lots of shouting and applause -- when Biden said something good most of the theater erupted, and when Palin said something quasi-Reaganesque there was a little smattering of claps. People audibly groaned every time Palin said "Nukular" or "Maverick," so there was an awful lot of groaning. At one point when global warming came up, the Republicans were shouting at Biden "That's not true! Read a science book!" and I said "There's scientific consensus that he's right in all the peer reviewed journals!" I think that was the closest I came to a brawl. The Democrat on my left started picking up on the way that Palin says "also" all the time, and starting repeating the word in the same accent every time it was said.
I managed to finish the Bingo game pretty near the end, with the square "Biden tries to tell a joke but fails badly." I didn't actually think he had done that, but Palin SAID -- I'm quoting from the transcript -- "In my comment there, it was a lame attempt at a joke and yours was a lame attempt at a joke, too, I guess, because nobody got it. Of course we know what a vice president does." I thought that was good enough to count for the bingo.
My assessment: Palin did not fall down or visibly injure herself. She parroted a lot of lines that Republicans love, including numerous ripoffs from Ronald Reagan. By virtue of this, Palin did better than expected. You can't judge how well she did based on my biased audience, but the voters being graphed on screen also seemed to favor Biden by a lot.
At the end, obviously the little reaction machines got turned off, because the line dropped all the way to the bottom of the negative scale. At least that's what it probably meant, but I also like to pretend that the audience just really hated it when Wolf Blitzer started talking.