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Friday, October 12, 2012

The Biden vs. Ryan Debate Fiasco

“Here comes the orator! With his flood of words, and his drop of reason.” — Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac — 1742.

I think if Ben Franklin had been watching the Vice Presidential debate last night he would have had a great belly laugh and turned away after five minutes. It was that bad, and as the Franklin, with his wit, quipped in his Farmer’s Almanac Vive President Joe Biden put forth a flood of words with very little reason — and a great deal of arrogance and downright rudeness, nor so much to Paul Ryan, but to the American People.

I began watching the debate about ten minutes into it as I was more interested in the Steelers-Titans game on the NFL Network. Within 30 seconds I commented to my daughter, who was listening to the debate while finishing her work in the upstairs loft, that Biden was disrespecting us with his rude and crass interruptions, facial expressions, eye rolls, and body language. As my daughter was not seeing the debate she really didn’t understand my disdain for Biden’s actions and posture. About on third through the debate she joined me in watch and immediately came to the same conclusion as I — Biden was acting like a jerk. She felt Ryan should call him on his actions as what he was doing was disrespectful to the audience and himself, but Ryan was too respectful to the Vice President. Why the moderator, Martha Raddatz, allowed Biden’s constant interruptions to continue was a disservice to the viewer. But what could you expect from a MSM News person.

According to an article in the International Business Times Raddatz and first published in the Daily Caller had a past association with Obama:

“Martha Raddatz is known for her tough, fair reporting, which is why it was no surprise to her colleagues inside and outside of ABC News that she was chosen by the Commission on Presidential Debates for this assignment,” the statement read. “Barack Obama was a law school classmate of Raddatz's ex-husband Julius Genachowski at Harvard. At the time Barack Obama was a student and president of the Law Review. He attended their wedding over two decades ago along with nearly the entire Law Review, many of whom went onto successful careers including some in the Bush administration. Raddatz and Mr. Genachowski divorced in 1997 and both are now remarried.”

Ultimately the debate was not about Raddatz, it was all about Biden. I expected “table-pounding atmospherics” from Biden but I didn’t expect him to act like a total jackass forbiden-smile-debate-ap fully 90 minutes. Give him credit for knowing his target audience, though: His task last night was to get the left excited again after Obama fell into a semi-coma in Denver, and manifesting utter disdain for Ryan — grimacing, shouting, laughing inappropriately, constantly interrupting, the total jackass experience — is just what the doctor ordered. He might have irritated independents and undecided voters, but probably not so much that it’ll change people’s votes. The Democrats needed someone to go out there and clown for liberals, and if there’s one thing this guy knows, it’s clowning. Perhaps this is why in the CNN-ORC post-debate poll of Registered Voters Ryan won the debate by 48%-43% and Ryan had a more “likeable” rating of 53%-43%.

Here’s a taste of what I mean via Mediaite, centered around one of Ryan’s more cutting lines of the evening. For what it’s worth, the media lost patience with Biden’s shtick too, but I doubt that’ll cost him anything tomorrow. And yes, needless to say, Raddatz was also terrible for allowing it to continue. I think the quotation from Greg Gutfeld of Fox News sums up Biden’s performance best: “Biden is the drunk at the bar; Martha is the unhappy bartender, and Ryan is the unfortunate salesman caught in the middle.” To me it was George Bailey (Ryan) playing to a scornful and disrespectful Henry Potter (Biden)

If Biden had something of important to say it was lost in his demeanor and behavior. As Charles Krauthammer pointed out that if you read a transcript of the debate (which very, very few will do) than Biden came out on top. If you listened to the debate on the radio (which again very few people do unless riding in their cars) the debate was a draw. If you watched the debate (which the vast majority did) Biden came out the loser as his words were lost in his behavior. This harkens back to the Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960 when those who read a transcript or listened on the radio gave the advantage to Nixon, while those watch on their black and white TVs (as I and my dad did) the debate went to Kennedy. This was due to Nixon’s appearance and the sweat on his upper lip due to the lights.

Peggy Noonan has an interesting take on the debate in her Wall Street Journal article “Confusing Strength With Aggression“ where she says:

History is human; both men had things to prove. Mr. Biden had to show the White House, the Democratic base and himself that he still has it, that he's not the doddering uncle in the attic. Whatever happens, at almost 70 this is his last grand political moment. Would his career end with a whiff or a hit? And the debate was his opportunity to save Barack Obama. Might that be personally satisfying? Obama staffers are often quietly condescending about Ol' Joe. What sweet revenge to publicly save the leader of those who privately patronized you. If I read Mr. Biden correctly, this would have crossed his mind.”


Last week Mr. Obama was weirdly passive. Last night Mr. Biden was weirdly aggressive, if that is the right word for someone who grimaces, laughs derisively, interrupts, hectors, rolls his eyes, browbeats and attempts to bully. He meant to dominate, to seem strong and no-nonsense. Sometimes he did—he had his moments. But he was also disrespectful and full of bluster. "Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy!" he snapped at one point. It was an echo of Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle, in 1988. But Mr. Quayle, who had compared himself to Kennedy, had invited the insult. Mr. Ryan had not. It came from nowhere. Did Mr. Biden look good? No, he looked mean and second-rate. He meant to undercut Mr. Ryan, but he undercut himself. His grimaces and laughter were reminiscent of Al Gore's sighs in 2000—theatrical, off-putting and in the end self-indicting.


In terms of content—the seriousness and strength of one's positions and the ability to argue for them—the debate was probably a draw, with both candidates having strong moments. But in terms of style, Mr. Biden was so childishly manipulative that it will be surprising if independents and undecideds liked what they saw.

National Democrats keep confusing strength with aggression and command with sarcasm. Even the latter didn't work for Mr. Biden. The things he said had the rhythm and smirk of sarcasm without the cutting substance.

And so the Romney-Ryan ticket emerged ahead. Its momentum was neither stopped nor slowed and likely was pushed forward.”

Ms. Noonan makes a few cogent points but her defense of the moderator, Martha Raddatz, is way off base when she said:

“Ms. Raddatz acquitted herself admirably, keeping things moving, allowing the candidates to engage, probing. There was a real humanity to her presence. We just saw Jim Lehrer beat up for what was also good work. May her excellence go unpunished.”

I saw Raddatz as a shill for the administration as she continually allowed Biden to interrupt and feed him softball pitches. She is just another fading lib.

Chris Matthews, in his epic post-debate meltdown after the Romney-Obama debate, had the most telling line: “this was not an MSNBC debate.” Matthews and other liberals were particularly upset that Mitt Romney had managed to actually speak uninterrupted, occasionally running over his time and requesting opportunities to respond to things Obama said (although the final tally showed Obama spoke for 4 more minutes than Romney, owing largely to his “umms.”).

Tonight was a different animal. Joe Biden came in with one game plan: don’t let voters hear a word Paul Ryan said. The post-debate count circulated by the RNC showed Biden interrupting Ryan 82 times. He was often loud enough that it was hard to hear Ryan speak, and Ryan was frequently cut off before he could finish his answers. On the rare occasions Ryan spoke without being interrupted, Biden laughed, snorted, grinned (even when discussing serious subjects like war and abortion), or at a minimum immediately declared that everything Ryan said was a lie. Biden even shouted at moderator Martha Raddatz and called her a liar too, telling her she wasn’t “being straight” with him.

There is something called “Midwestern Nice” that I learned growing up and used all throughout my business career. It is being polite, listening and not to interrupt when in a presentation, on a panel or a debate. Evidently Midwestern nice is practiced in Wisconsin, but not in Washington, D.C. Delaware or MSNBC. Had I acted like Biden while growing up I would have had to eat a great deal of Ivory soap.

It appears from the immediate post-debate reaction that this performance was what liberal supporters of the Administration wanted: use the heckler’s veto, don’t let the other guy finish his sentences. It made Al Gore’s famous eye-rolling and sighing performance look like an Oxford debate. Raddatz did — with one cringe-inducing exception at the end — put in a good set of questions, but she failed at what I regard as Job One of a moderator, which is to prevent interruptions from letting the candidates talk.

It’s hard to evaluate the substance of the debate beyond the constant interruptions (I did think Ryan did a good job of remaining civil, polite and mostly cheerful through the whole spectacle). Ryan got off to a rough start the first question or two, which should have been golden opportunities to fillet the Administration’s dishonesty on Libya; he got in some shots, but let Biden distract him by giving rambling answers that packed in everything from Iraq to Afghanistan to bin Laden. After that, Ryan settled in and was the same Ryan we’ve seen so many times, patiently jousting with hostile questioners on hostile turf.

Biden, of course, told a battery of bald-faced lies, as expected (he pretended not to have voted for the Afghan and Iraq wars and Medicare Part D, and gave an absurdly dishonest rendering of the HHS mandate). That may not hurt him, but he may be more hurt by his complete failure to (1) make any sort of positive case for the Administration’s economic record or (2) offer any solutions to anything besides tax hikes, tax hikes and even more tax hikes.

The debate was again short on social issues. Of note, however, was that even Joe Biden couldn’t and wouldn’t defend the nonsense idea that an unborn child is not a human being.

I think Ryan blew a great opportunity on the issue of the Catholic Church and Biden’s response that the administration’s position on contraceptives and abortoffacides was not in conflict with the Church. Ryan misses a golden opportunity when he did not get a punch in by saying’ “the why are the Bishops suing the administration over this issue. There was another time in the abortion segment when Biden talked about a women’s right to choose. Ryan should have quipped “if a women has the right to choose an abortion, why can’t she choose a hip replacement or a pacemaker under ObamaCare?

Probably the biggest lie of the night was Biden’s stating that they did not have the intelligence on the Benghazi murders. Vice President Joe Biden claimed that the administration wasn't aware of requests for more security in Libya before the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi during Thursday night's debate, contradicting two State Department officials and the former head of diplomatic security in Libya. Biden blamed the intelligence community for the ever-changing story coming from the White House, and flat out lied when he claimed ignorance as a defense. "We weren't told they wanted more security" at the embassy, he said.

In fact, two security officials who worked for the State Department in Libya at the time testified Thursday that they repeatedly requested more security and two State Department officials admitted they had denied those requests.

The top regional security officer in Libya over the summer, Eric Nordstrom, testified. "In those conversations, I was specifically told [by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb] ‘You cannot request an SST extension.' I determined I was told that because there would be too much political cost. We went ahead and requested it anyway."

Nordstrom was so critical of the State Department's reluctance to respond to his calls for more security that he said, "For me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building."

Today Biden backed off his bold statement a bit by saying he meant to say the that President Obama and he had not received the intelligence reports from Libya. This could be construed of putting all the blame on the State Department and tossing Hillary under the bus. I think they believe Hillary is toast anyway and falling on the Obama sword last week she probably destroyed her political career while hubby runs about the country touting a mad he really hates. Love those Democrats.

Conventional wisdom says that vice presidential debates don't move the needle in elections, and last night's debate was probably no exception. That said, Thursday night's debate couldn't have contrasted two more different candidates. Paul Ryan, the respectful, serious and earnest policy wonk, against Joe Biden, who behaved like a drunken clown and a jerk and paid due homage to the mascot of the Democrat Party — the Jackass.

On substance, Ryan held his own against Vice President Chuckles, despite having to face a second debate opponent in "moderator" Martha Raddatz of ABC News. Yet on style, whether the subject was the terrorist attack on our Libyan embassy, the ailing economy or abortion, Biden smiled, laughed, sneered, rolled his eyes and strategically interrupted Ryan every time the congressman hit his stride on an answer. And if it wasn't Biden interrupting, it was Raddatz.

Biden is obviously a disciple of Saul Alinsky, who in his "Rules for Radicals," Rule No. 5, said, "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage." Clearly, the Obama team decided that the president's failure last week was that he was "too polite," and that Biden had to use ridicule to shore up their anxious base. The result was appalling, but then again, Biden has been rehearsing his socialist obfuscation and diversion in Washington for 40 years.

In closing I quote Proverbs 29:9; “If a wise man contends with a foolish man, whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace.”

One question about the debate still lingers in my mind. How much did Biden pay to get his teeth whitened, or were they painted on? Or are the false, like his hair and botoxed face?

The Steelers-Titan game was much more exciting with the Tennessee Titans winning with 00 seconds left on the clock with a field goal 26-23.

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