The vice presidential debate was one of the best I have ever watched, far better than Joe Biden vs. Sarah Palin. Joe Biden had a mission, to help blunt the effects of President Obama’s “empty podium” performance at the first presidential debate last week and that he did. He challenged his opponent Paul Ryan on every issue he raised, even asking “so you’re Jack Kennedy now?” That’s reminiscent of Lloyd Bensten telling Dan Quayle, “Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.” When the issue was raised by moderator Martha Raddatz about stimulus and Paul Ryan tried to downplay how much good that infusion of cash did, Biden quickly reminded him of writing two letters asking for stimulus funds. That was priceless.
I am very, very happy with Biden’s performance. Some Republicans are complaining about Martha Raddatz and Joe Biden’s constant smiling and laughing when Ryan spoke. I didn’t view that as condescending. I viewed that as someone smiling at the bullsh*t being spewed by Paul Ryan, who got tangled up in the whole Afghanistan war, Medicare and abortion. Joe Biden was very strong on foreign policy, taking Ryan to task for suggesting that we put more boots on the ground in Afghanistan, when it is clearly the job of the Afghans to take care of their own security at this juncture. Why should we remain on the front line while they hang back? Remember Paul Ryan was the same person who said we shouldn’t be helping the 30% of takers in this country.
Paul Ryan’s goal at the debate was to build on Mitt Romney’s strong performance last week, but I don’t believe he did that. His toughest opponent wasn’t Joe Biden. It was his record and Mitt Romney’s campaign platform. He couldn’t stand up to Joe Biden’s withering attacks, such as Joe Biden’s comeback to Romney’s tax plan, that is was not “mathematically possible.” Paul Ryan, like his wannabe boss, didn’t offer specifics, even when pressed by Martha Raddatz on many of the issues. When he did, he came across as weak and waffling. Joe Biden skillfully worked in Mitt Romney’s 47 percent comment and Paul Ryan’s 30 percent insult of most Americans. He also looked in the camera and asked Americans if they wanted Mitt Romney’s plan that won’t help the middle class or President Obama’s plan that will help the middle class.
Joe Biden came prepared and those 30 years in public life played out of the stage. He was a fierce opponent, who it almost seems was coached to interrupt Paul Ryan constantly. It threw him off. Remember Mitt Romney did just that last week and it worked. This week it worked for Joe Biden. Personally, if some of Joe Biden’s “pitbull demeanor” can rub off on Obama for the next debate, then he should be able to demolish Mitt Romney easily. Andrew Sullivan is happy and and so am I.
Martha Raddatz was an effective moderator who asked the right questions, pressed for specifics and forced follow-ups. Quite the opposite of the hot mess we saw from Jim Lehrer. Of course, since the Republicans are bitching about her, we know that’s a clear indication they don’t believe Paul Ryan won. Score one for the Obama campaign. This was a tie as a CNN poll found. This was a seasoned politician schooling a neophyte. Is Ryan still drinking water?
Watch the vice presidential debate: