The vice presidential debate (actually not a debate, just a series of arguments of sorts) was boring at best, insulting at worst. It was boring in the sense that the only consistent passion shown was that of Biden, who was ardently in love with himself and showed it. It was insulting in the sense that the rudeness exuding from Biden indicated that he judged the public to be so shallow that it would approve of his waspishness and count it as macho-stuff, the heavyweight rhetorically annihilating the bantamweight.
On substance, the contest was probably a draw, mostly because Ryan was far too polite to either nail Obama substantively on issues such as Libya or allowed the constant interruptions by Biden to disrupt any logical flow of facts and ideas. In this, moderator Raddatz was Biden’s accomplice. She could have at least occasionally told him to shut up but she didn’t. A former Raddatz-husband is the top dog at the federal Communications Commission and her current husband has been with National Public Radio for some 30 years. She also worked for NPR back in the day and is now employed by Obama-propaganda-arm ABC, so the liberal bias was/is obvious as expected.
The aggravating element connected with the whole process has to do with the much ballyhooed “rehearsals” conducted in preparation for the event. One could hope that the candidates have a good enough grasp of the total picture to simply say what they know, without having to perform by rehearsal-oriented rote.
Yeah…this is done as a safeguard against making gaffes, but it provides an artificiality that gives the lie to the whole shooting match. In any case, neither candidate seemed to have profited from his “rehearsals,” since neither did all that well, stammered around constantly and gave the impression that he couldn’t remember what he was supposed to say. Ryan, who is known as a “facts-and-figures” man, did poorly because he was either rattled by the constant interruptions or just forgot. Everyone expected Biden to be Biden, so his rambling didn’t register as a minus. He was supposed to be obnoxious and not too well informed. He delivered.
Since complete sentences – without the ums and ahs and backups-to-start-over – were often rare, even preparing a transcript would be hard to do, much less understand, but the body-language was instructive. Obama was sort of like a totem-pole in the first debate so it was obvious that Biden meant to hog the show, belittle Ryan and chose to use the smile/smirk/eye-roll approach. Sometimes he even laughed while Ryan was speaking. He made a jackass of himself, just as did Gore in 2000 when he was attacked by the “sigh syndrome” when George Bush was speaking.
Perhaps the most telling point made by Ryan was that President Reagan and Speaker O’Neill, a powerful democrat, worked together in the 1980s to bring about very good things culminating in the demise of the Soviet Union and a strong reconfigured military. It’s obvious that total gridlock faces the nation if Obama is reelected since his idea of governance (socialism) allows for no compromises and is totally antithetical to the American “enterprise” system that has made the nation the freest and strongest in history.
Strangely, Ryan didn’t mention that the top and bottom tax-rates when Reagan took office were, respectively, 69% and 14% but only 28% and 15% when he left office. This brought on the prosperity of the 1990s but President Clinton helped to create the downturn beginning in 1999 when he got the top rate raised to nearly 40% in 1993.
On the day before the debate, administration witnesses under oath made it plain in a House hearing conducted by Representative Issa that the State Department repeatedly denied requests for beefed-up security in Libya long before the Benghazi massacre. Ryan could have hammered that fact but he didn’t, either because he wasn’t aware of the hearing testimony or was too nice to employ plain facts.
Biden, who should have known within two days of the massacre that it was a terrorist attack, blamed the intelligence community for the administration’s bungling and said “we” didn’t know about the requests for extra help. He didn’t say who “we” referenced but press-guy Carney said the day after that Biden meant himself and the president. In other words, Biden, speaking for the president, threw Clinton under the bus…or he lied. Clinton had already thrown her staff to the wolves. What an unspeakable mess!
All the back-and-forth about Social Security and Medicare was just smoke, neither Biden nor Ryan making much of anything clear. Actually, there are no absolute details, just frameworks within which reform must be accomplished. Obamacare stands as it is and Ryan did make the case for doing something on the basis of everything from nursing homes to physicians opting out of serving old people if the plan isn’t changed.
Biden laughed his way through the whole thing, blowing off Ryan just like Obama through sheer arrogance and total detachment tried to do to Romney. It didn’t work because the intensity of his disdain for his opponent was greater than Obama’s, just in a different way. People despise condescension, and may well blow off Obama/Biden, the nasty-boys, in November.
And so it goes.