I think any honest observer would have to admit that Sarah Palin did very well tonight (so did Joe Biden.) But Palin's success was due almost entirely to the innocuous, vague questions tossed at both candidates by Gwen Ifill. One of the most egregious examples was Ifill's failure to ask the candidates about their attitudes towards Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to reproductive choice--for example, under what circumstances (rape, incest, danger to mother, etc.) they would be for or against it.
So all the right-wing paranoia that Ifill would be biased towards Biden was just a lot of hot air: She made things entirely too easy for both of them.
Nevertheless, Palin's victory over her own fecklessness will almost certainly turn out to be a Pyrrhic one, as McCain's slide continues. And don't forget, he will have two more debates against Obama. This election is not about Sarah Palin, it's about John McCain, George Bush, and the disastrous policies they have pursued pretty much in lockstep these past eight years.
More analysis: Be sure to check out my blogger-journalist pal Marc Cooper's comments on the debate. Marc also takes Ifill to task, and makes a number of other pithy remarks.