Joe Biden and Sarah Palin were talking to two different Americas Thursday night. Actually, that’s unfair to Joe Biden; he was trying to talk to everyone. I can say for certain, though, that Sarah Palin was talking to — and winking at — her own private Idaho, and for long stretches of the debate, it was an unnerving experience.

We could be in for a few days of pro-Palin commentary, since her subjects and verbs corresponded. For at least the first hour, she held her own; she was funny sometimes, occasionally charming. Still, the Obama-Biden ticket will survive it. Biden was stronger on every single substantive point, and that’s the impression that will last.

But the pit bull in lipstick was back. After her disarming “Hey, can I call you Joe?” Palin was vicious, with a winning smile. After a passionate Biden plea to “walk with me in my neighborhood,” in Delaware and Scranton, where “the middle class has gotten the short end,” she ridiculed him: “Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again! Pointing backwards again!”

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