The vice presidential debate was an interesting implementation of what Democrats seem to consider “good debating technique.” Congressman Ryan displayed what one pundit referred to as “excessive courtesy” toward the vice president. The vice president displayed disrespect, insults, derision and contradicted every statement Congressman Ryan made, abandoning any notion of the truth. He smiled, snorted, smirked, shook his head in negation, smirked and laughed. He resorted to insult and pulled every attention-getting technique possible, short of setting his hair on fire. That, at least, would have been a consummation devoutly to be wished.
The vice president was ably abetted by the “debate” moderator. Vice president Biden got 41 minutes and change to speak. Congressman Ryan had 40 minutes to speak. Sounds fair, right? It wasn’t. The vice president interrupted Mr. Ryan constantly. Ms. Radditz never attempted to stop the vice president from doing so. Not once. Congressman Ryan was never granted the opportunity for his statements or his answers to questions to get any traction. The vice president made certain that he barged into every sentence, making statements, offering “translation” of what was being said, calling whatever Congressman Ryan was saying “malarkey,” “nonsense” or “inaccurate.” Then he would promptly launch himself on whatever he wanted to say. He would address the television camera, saying “trust me,” with the sincerity a used car salesman employs to pitch a car with three tires and no engine. He authoritatively banged out “facts” and figures that had been proven, prior to debate, to have been…well…malarkey. Moderator Martha Radditz was the final nail. She made certain that Congressman Ryan never got the opportunity to respond to the vice president’s blanket of blather by insisting upon a change of subject.
Debates are supposed to be a forum where ideas are disputed, highlighting the difference between the choice to be made in an election. It could be argued that this event achieved the latter. This mugging, however, was something entirely different. Vice president Biden was the president’s rabid attack dog. He didn’t just interrupt Congressman Ryan; he deliberately interrupted him 82 times during the ensuing 90 minutes, according to Reince Priebus of the RNC. Martha Radditz interrupted Congressman Ryan no fewer than 31 times. Radditz not only knew the president well enough to have invited him to her wedding but, according to White House records, she had visited the vice president at his residence prior to the debate. The vice president used every assault he could muster…against Governor Romney (the “47%” gambit, etc.).
Congressman Ryan landed a body blow or two but he generally didn’t respond in kind. He handled the debate according to the rules, with reasoned responses and civility, despite vitriol, outlandish inaccuracies and outright lies hurled by the vice president, despite being muzzled and handcuffed at every turn. Congressman Ryan was forced to fight the battle on two fronts, thanks to the moderator. None of the bloodletting was accidental. Senator Mitch McConnell suggested in post-debate recap, “The next time Martha Radditz gets married, maybe (Paul Ryan) can get himself invited”.
Vice president Biden seems to have taken to heart the feedback the president has been peppered with by his faithful since his disastrous debate with Governor Romney last week; attack, rip, draw blood. It appears that the administration is counting on the “Survivor” mentality of the electorate. It doesn’t matter what you say or do, just be the last one left and get the opposition “voted off the island.” The appalling thing is that he might not be altogether wrong. A focus group of independent voters, surveyed right after the debate, largely decried the vice president’s rudeness but still thought he’d won the debate. He sounded “honest,” “confident,” “energetic,” in possession of the “facts” despite fact checking having previously proven that the vice president’s “facts” were largely fiction. Most disturbingly, this group felt the vice president “didn’t sound scripted.”
The news is not altogether dire; the CNN poll, taken immediately after the debate had Congressman Ryan leading the vice president 48% to 44%. Today, according to Real Clear Politics, we learn that the president only has a lock on nine states. Governor Romney is currently leading the president by 7 points in two, key swing states. Will a vice presidential debate change the course of a presidential election? Probably not. It is, however, a warning of what may be coming in the two, remaining presidential debates. The president is too narcissistic to allow Governor Romney face-to-face win without a fight. He certainly won’t allow his own regime’s court jester to outshine him in the public’s eye.
“Good ol’ Joe” isn’t good. He has a long, storied history in the Senate of being one of the nastiest and mean spirited of men. If he just couldn’t control himself during the debate he’s unqualified to run for high office. If he was calculated in his ham-handed attacks, he is unqualified to run for high office. A friend described the vice president last night as resembling “The Joker, in a nursing home.” An apt description.