Thursday, October 11, 2012

Post-blogging: Thoughts after the 2012 vice-presidential debate

By Michael J.W. Stickings and Richard K. Barry, with tmcbpatriot and Frank Moraes

(Image from New York's Daily Intel blog -- check out the great zingers.)

Also see our pre-debate and mid-debate posts from earlier.


First, the Steelers suck. Down 16-13 to one of the worst teams in football, with 3:24 left in the third? Pathetic. Embarrassing. I'm this close, this close, to being done with them this year.

Second, Biden won.

And, it would appear, that's the general consensus. He was feisty, forceful, and clear, showing the sort of experience and determination that one has come to expect from him but that was all the more stark with an extremist neophyte sitting next to him as his challenger.

Particularly on foreign policy, he was strong and wise, contrasting Ryan's combination of vagueness and propagandizing. Ryan kept insisting on these differences yet admitted that on the key issues there is no disagreement with what Obama is doing, whether it's Iran or Syria or Afghanistan, and Biden effectively pointed that out. And where Ryan did disagree, he revealed his abject ignorance, as with respect to the handover to Afghan troops.

And on domestic policy as well, it was refreshing to see Biden pushing back against Ryan's right-wing ideology wrapped up in a package with a nice little bow, noting repeatedly that the facts say otherwise and the numbers don't add up. And when Ryan was lying, it was similarly refreshing to see Biden say enough is enough. 

I'd say Biden's one weakness was his closing statement, where he should have spoken into the camera and directly addressed Ryan's accusation that Obama hasn't done anything. Saving GM? Ordering the mission that killed Osama bin Laden? Providing access to affordable health care to tens of millions of Americans? How about that?

But a lot of the talk is about style, about mannerisms, and specifically about Biden's laughing. As I pointed out in our mid-debate post, that was worrying me. But in the end I think he was able to show just how relentlessly Ryan was a) lying and/or b) expressing far-right positions. There were times when it looked like the smiles could turn into smirks, but he held himself back. And, really, the fact that Republicans are focusing on Biden's smiling and laughing as somehow inappropriate is all the evidence we need that Biden won, and won decisively.

(Okay, the Steelers just scored a TD and are now winning 20-16. But I have no confidence the D can hold. The Steel Curtain is no more. Alas... And, guess what, they're not stopping the Titans. Blah.)

Terrible questions about faith/abortion and unique personal character, by the way. But otherwise it was an outstanding debate overall. (Moderator Martha Raddatz was significantly better than Jim Lehrer despite those last couple of questions and some Republican-oriented phrasing throughout, and she did well to keep the debate moving along while allowing the two candidates to interact in a meaningful way.)

Update: Way too much focus among the pundits on style, but what else is new? It's like they can't see past the body language to address the substance of what the two men said. Which is particularly disappointing in this case given that, again, it was actually a really good debate.

What still strikes me more than anything else, though, aside from Biden's overall strong showing, is just how unprepared and unqualified so obviously is for the vice presidency (let alone the top job). He was way out of his element on foreign policy and started cracking the moment his right-wing budget was challenged, just as he has in recent interviews. It's easy to see how he's such a whippersnapping Republican wunderkind, but beyond the talking points there's just not that much there, and all those talking points amount to is cover for his, and his party's, real agenda of slashing tax rates for the rich and otherwise turning the country completely over to individual and corporate plutocrats at the expense of everyone else.

Anyway, the debate was much better than the Steelers game, which was a disaster. (Is it too early to say it's a lost season and that they'd do better to suck the rest of the way and get higher draft picks?)

But Biden's win was more than enough to make up for it. Sorry, CNN, but it wasn't a draw. Ryan didn't do anything terribly damaging, other than revealing his own ignorance and inexperience, and obviously a lot of what he said played well to the GOP base, notably his anti-abortion extremism, but it was Biden who came in and got the job done, picking up for Obama's poor performance last week, energizing Democrats (many of whom have been pretty down), and reaching out to the middle class. That's more than good enough for me.

(And apparently undecided voters give Biden the win, too. By a lot.) 


I'm very comfortable with Biden's performance. Not sure how the media will see it. In terms of score, they might call a tie. I think it will help to stabilize the Obama campaign somewhat.

Biden's closing could have been stronger, but Ryan speaks in cliches. Anyway, I'm feeling good.

Frank Moraes:

I don't know how this debate is going to be perceived by the Villagers. To me, Biden came off as knowledgeable and wise; Ryan came off as a kid. Here are just some notes since I have to go:

Great Biden line, "These people are my mom and dad... instead of signing pledges with Grover Norquist they should sign a pledge to the American people."

Biden talking directly into the TV to seniors. Very effective.

I've lost my breath. Biden says, "Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad."

Biden explains why vouchers won't keep pace: because that's the only way they save money. Brilliant!

Ryan: "We aren't going to end Medicare." Biden: "You are!" Too bad we didn't get this from Obama.

First part on foreign affairs, Biden did okay but didn't totally dominate. On Afghanistan, he is killing Ryan. You know Ryan is in trouble when he repeats "unraveling" talking point. Ryan just looks ignorant about Afghanistan.

Biden says Romney complains about foreign policy but when pushed would do the same thing as Obama. And when Ryan gets pushed for specifics and he demonstrates this by saying, "Our red line is the same!"

Ryan's "Bean" story died because it is so obviously canned.

"Mitt Romney and I want to earn your support." That's why we won't tell you our plans.

Biden has the human touch. Ryan does not.

I don't think this debate will move much. But it should make Democrats feel a lot better. I know I do!


Well... That. Was. Awesome! 

Most memorable line: "Now you're Jack Kennedy!" Biden gave the performance of a lifetime.

Before the pundits shape my answer, here goes: Biden is a smart man, around for decades who knows what is going on. He definitely had Ryan on the defensive all night. One pundit actually said it well. He said Ryan spent the night defending Romney while Biden defended Mom and Dad. That really nails it. He was ready and was not about to back down. Sure he had to build Obama back up after last week, but this is what he would have done regardless. He had Ryan right where he wanted him and had every opportunity to nail him and did with aplomb. He got Ryan on stimulus hypocrisy, on the 47% finally, and on foreign policy. It is hilarious, though. Last week Romney's interruptions and smirking was seen as agressive. Joe is already being called possible rude and snarky. Interesting. Liberal media my ass. 

Okay, the "undecideds" just gave it to Biden. Normally I do not want to hear from these no-nothing morons, but tonight they get a pass. Who is undecided at this point? I ask you. 


I am sure Biden won this thing. We will hear some great sound bites in the coming week. Obama now has no choice but to come out and do what Biden did tonight or lose. He needs to put Romney on the defensive all night. We'll see. The moderator did a fine job, though. Charlie Rose on right now. I am afraid to watch. Al Hunt from Bloomberg is smooching Ryan's ass and reminding everyone how poorly Obama did last week. Rich Lowry says Biden was off-putting, obnoxious, and rude. Mark Halperin from Time is basically agreeing with Lowry. The media is going with Biden being rude and his "ticks," whatever the fuck that means. John Heilemann from NY magazine says Republicans will be happy with Ryan's performance. The whole talk is how those moron undecideds will react. Why do we care about people who still have not made up their minds? These people should not be allowed to vote with three weeks left. 

Oh boy, now its Chuck Todd. He is counting how many times each man said the other man's running mate's name. At least he and everyone is saying that Biden ran the table. Gwen Ifill, surely pissed that she was snubbed this year, is talking about tone. It is absolutely amazing how these supposed professional pundits and journalists talk about what we all just saw with such little substance. It is disgusting.


I am annoyed that Biden did not bring up Ayn Rand tonight. I really thought it would happen. But I will take what I can get nevertheless. Nobody on TV talks about the issues at all. The pundits are still taking about Obama's performance and where he will be next week. Will he bring it, etc. No talk of the actual issues and Romney's lies. All they talk about is style and no substance. Sickening.

Next week, according to these pundits, Obama can read a menu next week so long as he says it forcibly and aggressively.

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