Palin nets a C-. She didn't do anything well, nor did she actually answer any of the questions (going so far as to helpfully point out that she wouldn't be answering the questions "the way you or the moderator would like"). Her pitiful, awkward stabs at populism were transparently ridiculous and scripted. But she avoided a single gaffe of legendary, sound-bite-worthy proportions. It was just a shitty performance overall, not a performance marred by one significant disaster.
Biden gets an A. I'd like to give him a much lower grade so that it would make me feel more "fair" but if you watched that debate and don't think that he blew her out of the water with his attention to detail, specificity, and command of the facts countered by her inane bumper sticker slogan responses, then I don't know what to tell you. Ignoring Palin, Biden on his own was really as good as he can be (whatever you think of that). He was not smarmy, he answered the questions, and he hammered Palin without being a dick. I mean, he just drove her into the ground but did not come off like a bully in doing it. That's difficult. I would have blown it. He didn't.
The GOP is relieved in one sense because she wasn't as bad as in the Couric interview. But I think it's going to be damn well impossible to pretend that the debate was anything other than a brutal ass-beating. If you like hearing random slogans thrown at the camera, there was a candidate for you. There was also another who sounded like a serious statesman. If you watched that debate and thought Palin looked like the person best suited to lead the nation, I'd love to hear on what basis you make that judgment.
(PS – How awesome was the CNN camera in the GOP "Debate watching room"? It looked like a fucking morgue. Those people looked like they were at their own children's funeral.)