The morning after debates of this magnitude can often be more interesting than the debates themselves as the pundits analyze and the focus groups weigh in. Last night’s Vice Presidential debate falls into this category for me. After the dust settled and I’ve had a chance to think about what transpired last night, a few interesting points occurred to me.
Vice Presidential debate or brawl?
First, everyone can’t help but comment on Joe Biden’s demeanor. He constantly heckled Paul Ryan from the get-go. While some may dismiss his behavior as “Bidenism”, it doesn’t ring true for me. I remember a Joe Biden debating Sarah Palin four years ago. He was polite. He was controlled. And…he was a gentleman. Last night he was none of those things. The excuse that Joe was just being Joe is just that – an excuse. The real point of interest for me is why he acted the way he did. I believe it was a strategic move, and I can support my conclusion.
Anyone who saw the Vice Presidential debate will agree that Biden laughed at and interrupted Ryan an inordinate number of times. One point that may have gone unnoticed was that the interruptions decreased sharply about 2/3rds through the debate and didn’t start up again until the debate moved onward. The section where Biden actually became more “gentlemanly” (almost as if he had a split personality) was where Ryan principally agreed with him – on Afghanistan. This is not to say that Ryan agreed and the debate moved forward. Ryan had much to say about Afghanistan, and somehow Biden managed to control his belligerent behavior. Why? I believe it was deliberate – not the control he suddenly found – but I believe the belligerence was deliberate. Consider this: if Biden didn’t have the facts to debate Ryan with effectively, mocking Ryan to marginalize him or unhinge him would have been Biden’s best strategy. If Biden’s behavior was just “Bidenism” at its worst, then why did his “Bidenism” only materialize in areas where the Administration didn’t have a leg to stand on?
Ryan’s Missed Opportunities
Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI-1). Official photo.
There were many areas during the Vice Presidential debate where Ryan could have struck a few blows – but Monday morning quarterbacking is always insightful. One of the real wins for Ryan last night was his ability to keep his cool in front of a well-seasoned bully. Kudos to Paul Ryan for doing something that most of us wouldn’t have been able to do: keep calm and on target! If it were me, I would have loved to have taken a few shots at the gaffe master; most notably, his 4% remark which he tried to back-pedal. Yes, Joe does have a problem. He does after all sometimes let the truth slip out. Below is an excerpt from the Vice Presidential debate, courtesy of The New York Times.
I draw your attention to the area I have bolded. Biden tried to back pedal but the horse already was out of the gate. Unfortunately, thanks to Martha Raddatz, Ryan was not able to pin down this absurdity. This was another missed opportunity by gentleman Ryan. He should have insisted on making his point as Romney did when debating Obama. Of course the logical comeback should have been – do you think 4 out of 100 jobs is a good batting average? Biden was correct about the 4%. Ryan should have drawn attention to the 96% and the fact that 4% correct on anything is the sign of a real failure.
REP. RYAN: Was it a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on electric cars in Finland or on windmills in China?
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Look –
REP. RYAN: Was it a good idea to borrow all this money from countries like China –
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: (Chuckles.) (Note: no defense here – so he laughs!)
REP. RYAN: – and spend it on all these various different interest groups?
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Let me tell you it was a good idea. It was a good idea – Moody’s and others said that this was exactly what we needed that stopped us from going off the cliff. It set the conditions to be able to grow again. We have – in fact, 4 percent of those green jobs didn’t go under – or went – went – went under – didn’t work. It’s a better batting average than investment bankers have. They have about a 40 percent – (inaudible) – loss.
REP. RYAN: Where are the 5 million green jobs that were being promised –
MS. RADDATZ: I want to move on here to Medicare and entitlements. I think we’ve gone over this quite enough. And both – (Another save by Ms. Raddatz!)
Syria was another missed opportunity. Below is another excerpt. Again, I would like to draw your attention to the part that I emphasized.
REP. RYAN: Nobody is proposing to send troops to Syria – American troops.
Now let me say it this way. How would we do things differently? We wouldn’t refer Bashar Assad as a reformer when he’s killing his own civilians with his Russian-provided weapons. We wouldn’t be outsourcing our foreign policy to the United Nations, giving Vladimir Putin veto power over our efforts to try and deal with this issue. He’s vetoed three of them. Hillary Clinton went to Russia to try and convince him not to do so; they thwarted her efforts. She said they were on the wrong side of history. She was right about that. This is just one more example of how the Russia reset’s not working.
And so where are we? After international pressure mounted, then President Obama said Bashar Assad should go. It’s been over a year. The man has slaughtered tens of thousands of his own people and more foreign fighters are spilling into this country. So the longer this has gone on, the more people – groups like al-Qaida are going in. We could have more easily identified the Free Syrian Army, the freedom fighters, working with our allies, the Turks, the Qataris, the Saudis, had we had a better plan in place to begin with, working through our allies. But no, we waited for Kofi Annan to try and come up with an agreement through the U.N. That bought Bashar Assad time. We gave Russia veto power over our efforts through the U.N. and meanwhile about 30,000 Syrians are dead.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: What would my friend do differently? If you notice, he never answers the question.
REP. RYAN: No, I would – I – we would not be going through the U.N. on all of these things –
If you notice the areas that I highlighted, Ryan did answer the question. But the Democratic mantra, highlighted above in Biden’s comment, continued in another psychological attempt to make Ryan look inadequate.
Biden’s Benghazi Blunder
In closing, I must mention Biden’s Benghazi statements. Notice that Biden defended the Administration’s story of not knowing about the security problems and attributing the 9/11 attacks to a video. I would have asked him if he believes that everyone testifying on Capitol Hill before Congress was guilty of perjury. Obviously, the Administration has to be lying or the witnesses have to be lying. Given their history, I would put money on the Administration lying. But I guess that’s what makes me a Conservative. I look at the facts – at least after I’ve had time to digest them – and I don’t allow myself to be swayed by the psychological ploys of political bullies. But I guess if you can’t rely on facts, you have no choice but to rely on psychology. Hey, give the Administration credit. They managed to find some kind of strategy to keep their loyal followers from looking at their record.
(Editor’s note: the Vice Presidential debate began with the Benghazi attack. At this morning’s White House press briefing, Joe Biden’s remarks had a sequel that he probably did not intend. Specifically the White House now suggests that it got no briefings on Benghazi. This is the first time that a Vice Presidential debate changed a White House narrative, and within twelve hours.)