What is the difference between Sarah Palin and the typical vice-presidential nominee who confuses jargon for policy, speaks in scripted platitudes, and criticizes their opponent rather than offering a vision for the future? Lipstick.

That became overwhelmingly apparent when the Republican vice presidential nominee sat down for a three-part interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson concerning her credentials, experience and policy ideas. Palin seemed obviously coached, which is not exactly a vote of confidence from the GOP regarding her oratorical skills. At times she spoke in difficult-to-understand, fast-talk blathering, demonstrating her unfamiliarity with national security issues as well as the economy.

When Gibson asked specifically about her national security credentials she mentioned her work to create “energy independence,” while governor of Alaska and chair of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. When told that national security is about more than energy Palin responded: “energy is a foundation of national security.” She then tried to back that up with about a half-hour’s worth of double-talk and assorted gobbledygook.

Even a straight-faced Gibson seemed dazed afterward saying, “I got lost in a mountain of words there.” So did Palin.

After re-watching her interviews, I still don’t know what she’d do if elected, other than “regulate federal earmark spending.” However, according to the Los Angeles Times, as governor, she accepted $198 million in earmarks just this past February for a state of roughly 670,000 people. How did she explain that? “[At least] it’s in the light of day rather than seeing lobbyist cutting secret deals with Congress.”

So earmarks are OK as long as they are out in the open? Well, that would certainly save politicians a lot of time coming up with lies for justifying $100 million in federal spending to observe the mating habits of houseflies-sounds like reform to me. However, following the interview, I realized that I was no closer to knowing more about Palin’s policies than I did before. Consequently, I turned my attention back to the presidential nominees.

The same day of the Palin interview, Republican presidential nominee John McCain appeared on ABC’s The View, obviously pandering for the women’s vote. He was lambasted by the panel on his ethics for the slanderous turn his campaign has taken. “Why would you support an ad that says that Obama supports sex education for kindergartners?” asked Barbra Walters. The senate bill in question, which has stalled since 2005, favored giving kids information about sex, but only as a precautionary measure against incest and molestation.

McCain seemed visibly uneasy and irritated defending his position-apparently thought he’d get nothing but softball questions on the show. But McCain did make one point I agreed with concerning he and Obama participating in joint town hall debates in some of the swing states. It’s a terrific idea for Obama, especially since some national polls show him losing ground with female voters. An impromptu public discussion with McCain would show Obama’s initiative and toughness, and would allow our senator to shift the focus away from the “McPain” ticket.

I also agree with Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin that Obama should consider naming his cabinet members now, a move the media will chew on and one that would again place him in front of news cycles. He should also abandon those foolhardy ads painting McCain as “aged and out-of-step” with the times. That will not work. The last two presidential elections won by George W. Bush showed the importance of the senior vote-you never want to ostracize a major voting block.

Eventually, Palin’s star will dim and her mangled words will no longer impress even her own supporters. But will it be too late to keep her and McCain out of the White House?