Skip to comments.The VP Debate (Sober Ryan vs. Classless Joe, the grinning Joker)
Posted on 10/12/2012 5:36:18 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
I think both candidates basically did what they needed to do in the vice presidential debate, which leaves the Republican ticket in a slightly better positionsince Bidens goal was damage control with the base and Ryans was reinforcing a positive impression with persuadable voters.
After the calamity they experienced in last weeks presidential debate, liberals needed to be bucked up by the Obama campaign, and I think they got that tonight. It probably came at a real costI have a feeling that Bidens hyper-aggressive and at times buffoonish performance (and perhaps especially his Joker grin, which seemed to me as much a product of nervousness as of intent) hurt the ticket some with independent voters and especially with womenbut it was a price the Obama campaign is probably quite willing to pay given the situation theyre now in. This debate didnt help them win persuadable voters, and it probably wont move the polls in their direction, but it will calm liberals down and it was absolutely essential for them to do that. The MSNBC types needed someone to be a jerk toward Paul Ryan to his face, and they got it.
Biden gave them what they needed by behaving the way liberals think Mitt Romney behaved in last weeks debatebasically like a strident bully who just says whatever he needs to say to shut down his opponent. The Left wished Obama had done that, and now they got to see Biden doing it. The trouble for them is that Romney didnt actually do that. He won by appealing to moderate voters through substantive arguments. Biden (and therefore Obama) wont gain that appeal from this debate.
For Paul Ryan, this was an important night. He didnt shine the way Romney did last week, but thats never really an option for the running mate. His job was to reinforce Romneys case and to pass the bar of presidential credibility himself, and he certainly did that. In his biggest moment on the national stage to date, he was calm, clear, thoughtful, and serious. Thats the image the Romney campaign needs to project in these final weeks, and its the image Ryan wants to project. He did it in part by not pressing every potential opportunity he had (whether intentionally or by truly missing those opportunities), so that for those of us who spend our days mired in the minutia of these policy debates it was sometimes frustrating to think that here was Ryan, who could basically make Joe Biden look like a fool on this or that issue, instead making a more general point and returning to the basic economic case. He had to decide on the fly how to handle Bidens strange behavior, and he probably made the right choice. Ryan was easily the more presidential figure on the stage (I might have said more vice presidential, but that would seem like an insult), and his command of the foreign policy issues that came up should go a long way toward putting to rest any concern about his expertise on that front.
Substantively, Biden was predictably demagogic on the key domestic issues. His argument on entitlements was basically dont listen to either side, just use your common sense, dont you trust Democrats more than Republicans on this? Thats a very good sign for Republicans, especially on Medicare, and especially because polls (including the debate focus group dials) suggest the answer isnt necessarily what Biden thinks it isor what it used to be just a few years ago. Republicans have made extraordinary gains on that front, and this is very largely Ryans own doing.
This was one place where my own policy obsessions left me thinking Ryan could have said more, and particularly that he might have pushed one more time on vouchers. I dont have any particular problem with the term voucher in a lot of policy contexts, but it is simply not an accurate description of a premium-support reform of Medicare, in which seniors would get their choice of coverage, not a voucher, and those whose choice was among the more expensive would make up the difference themselves while those who choose cheaper options would have no further out of pocket costs and might get some money back. At no point is there a voucher. This is exactly how the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, Medicare Advantage, and the federal employee insurance system through which Joe Bidens family has gotten insurance for forty years function. Are those voucher programs?
I also thought Ryan should have gone one step further into details on the tax planperhaps pointing to the idea of a cap on total exclusions at some dollar figure, as Romney has done. He tried to argue instead that the presidents job is to lay out principles (no increase in the deficit, no increase in middle class taxes, no reduction in the portion of the tax burden borne by the wealthy) and then reach decisions on particulars with congress. Thats certainly right, but Biden didnt let him make the argument, and he should have pushed back some by first providing the particulars that Raddatz (who clearly didnt understand his answer) was demanding. But these are the complaints of a wonkof a person who notices missed opportunities rather than simply listening to what was said.
On foreign policy, I think Ryan won handily and that the debate (along with the sheer facts of the Libya debacle of course) has largely robbed the administration of what it thought would be a foreign policy advantage going into the final weeks, and especially into the last presidential debate in two weeks, which is all about foreign policy. It was quite striking, of course, just how much foreign policy there was in this debate. It was clear from her questions that Martha Raddatz really knows a lot about foreign policy (so that she pushed against and argued with some of the liberal platitudes Biden was pushing) but knows only the basic liberal talking points on the domestic issues. Thats too badher aggressive and pressing style would have made for some good exchanges if she knew more about those subjects.
Ryan pushed especially effectively on Libya, and I actually think Bidens answers on that front were extremely problematic for the administration and will greatly complicate their efforts to control a growing, serious, and very ill-timed scandal. The bald-faced lie about requests for more security will just have to be rolled back, which will be a bit embarrassing. But Bidens throwing the intelligence community under the bus is a huge problem too. Any time a politician blames something on the intelligence community, you just know that a torrent of leaks from the intelligence community to the major papers is about to erupt, and I think we can bet on that happening here.
Above all, I think a voter stepping back from all of this would have to ask himself just what the Obama administration is actually proposing to do in the next four years. Anything different from the last four years? Anything in particular at all? This was basically a debate about the Romney agenda, with some thoughts on the Obama record thrown in. For a campaign whose motto is forward there was remarkably little forward-looking substance.
To assess the effect of it all on the race, I think an important question will be how many voters watched this debate, compared to the last one. For those who did, I imagine this will basically be a drawa tie between those who found Bidens bullying effective and those who found it off-putting. But among those who only hear about it in the coming days, I have a feeling that this will turn out to have been a bit of a problem for the Democrats. Ryans performance probably wont be much noted either way (which is about what he was going for, I suspect; he has now established his place in the very upper tier of American political life without even much of a fuss), but the two lasting impressions of this debate that will be talked about will be Bidens bizarre behavior and his false assertion about requests for security by American diplomats in Libya. As they struggle to close Romneys narrow lead, neither will be a welcome subject of discussion for the Democrats.
The Joker is about right.
It was Biden as a six foot Honey Boo-Boo on Red Bull and acid.
It was awesome. The Obama ticket lost the campaign completely last night.
I had to laugh at the summary of the yahoo article:
“Move over, Big Bird! The vice president’s inability to control his grin steals the show.”
Most of the responses at ABC were disgust. Didn’t check others.
An excellent analysis, especially on how Ryan read and responded to the Biden “play action” buffoonery. This showed the kind of mature judgement people arelooking for.
Based on just the responses I’ve seen, somebody should make an overlay of video of Biden’s behavior, with the sound track of the vile French characters from Monty Python’s “Holy Grail”. lol
Biden’s job was to stink up the place so nobody could hear a word Ryan said. Ryan was King Arthur; Biden was the French guy threatening to wave his private parts at Arthur’s auntie.
Only it was funny when the French guy did it; it’s not so funny when we’ve got the entire Muslim world against us, thinking we’re weak, and united in belligerence and action.
Can’t help but wonder what the mom of one of the guys slain in Libya - who has been saying she’s sick of the BS she’s been getting from the regime - felt as she saw Biden’s schtick last night. If that wasn’t a big middle finger to her, nothing was.
The moderator did ok to begin with but then started helping Biden..She did not tell Biden to shut up when he interrupted..It was a set up job with the so called moderator..Hope she is happy her man Biden made of fool of himself..
The Joker is about right.
To me that was Biden being Biden. His actions, speaking style, etc. are what he has displayed over his many years in the Senate. Now the public that hasn’t seen him over the years may well not be impressed with it. With the next Presidential debate in only four days I suspect this will fall off the radar screen quickly.
King James Version (KJV)
8 Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.
9 If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.
10 The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.
Not talked about today, but I had a problem with the negative light in which Biden portrayed the brilliant Antonia Scalia. Clearly shows the Democrats are only concerned with the personal leanings of Justices rather than their abilities as jurists required to interpret the laws of the land.
Yep. What I saw last night was exactly what I expected to see. Old Joe trying to come across as the senior pol who was so bored with the young whippersnapper's incompetence, that all he could do was laugh it off and be snide. What I saw last night is EVERY debate, hearing or confrontation I've EVER seen with Biden.
Tom Brokaw et. al. in the media who are acting surprised... surprise me. Biden is 70 yrs old -- what, he was gonna change his schtick NOW?
Biden and Hillary ought to have a cackling contest
That had me laughing. A one liner that assesses the whole thing perfectly.
It will also be very interesting to see what the fallout will be from Biden throwing the intelligence community under the bus. This writer says we might expect some intelligence leaks that could hurt the administration - let’s hope so!
I only wish that during Biden’s laughing, Ryan had used my 4th grade teacher’s favorite line: “You know, they have places where they put people who laugh at nothing.”