I have to admit that I turned on the VP debate for about two minutes last night. I watched enough to hear Palin stumble through a claim about fighting the "greed" of the oil companies in Alaska, and I then listened to Biden (whose face, I believe, is literally made of ham) utter words about something having to do with something.
The current crop of candidates is a soaring testament to the state of our culture. They are unprincipled but not just in an opportunistic or populist sense. They are metaphysically unprincipled. In other words, I don't believe their minds grasp that fundamentally nature is causal, i.e., that an entity acts in accordance with its nature. Such a mentality is not able to reason properly, i.e., derive abstract principles from facts. Their ideas are a grab bag of contradictions and meaningless bromides designed not to actually demonstrate some truth or connect facts and principles but to affect an emotional reaction on behalf of the viewer. Palin's handlers no doubt wanted her to appear "credible" not to actually make sense. The Ham, although not suffering Palin's need to prove her ability to articulate a sentence in the national spotlight, in subtance is equally inane.
Note that the talking heads completely accept this state. They do not discuss the logic or meaning of candidates' claims. They discuss how the debate will "play" with the voters, i.e., how people will emotionally react to what they perceived. If you want to understand why we don't have better candidates this is the reason. We are living in a society that has been philosophically disarmed, i.e., a culture thorougly immersed in the lessons of their professors that the mind is impotent to understand reality, that there are no valid principles, no right and wrong, no black and white. The state of the economy and the candidates before us are reality's payback for holding ideas not consistent with it.