Responses to the VP debate
writes (9:40 p.m.):
I’ve never seen anyone parody Joe Biden the way Joe Biden is doing tonight.
Hannon writes (9:53 p.m.):
I don’t believe I have ever watched a vice-presidential debate before. Are they always this bad? Ryan seems to feel his own “junior” status, but is Biden for real? If a crocodile could smile endlessly, and if a crocodile could be evil, Biden would be its personification. That laugh must make Death nervous. His undisguised hatred and contempt for the opposition tells me that his corpse-like grin is the grin of the reaper, not the clown.
LA writes (12:28 a.m.):
During the debate, a friend and I were parodying Biden. One of us would say something like, “Two plus two equals four,” or, “I am a congressman from Wisconsin,” and the other would smirk and laugh as though that were the most absurd, fraudulent statement anyone had ever heard.
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During the debate, I said, “By treating everything Ryan is saying as risible lies, Biden is not trying to appeal to the Undecideds and Independents; he’s going after the Democratic base that shares the view that everything Republicans say is risible lies.” One of the after-debate analysts said much the same thing, that Biden with his disrespectful demeanor was trying to solidify the Democratic base which may have weakened over the last week.But if the Dems feel compelled at this late date to shore up their core supporters rather than appeal to the undecided center, doesn’t that suggest that they feel they are in serious trouble and are no longer trying to win but rather to lessen their loss? I know that sounds unlikely; I’m just trying to understand the logic of Biden’s decision to be so obnoxious.
All right, here’s a way of making sense of it. He chose not to appeal to the Undecideds, because he knows that they are not going to decide to vote Democratic based on the VP debate in any case. However, he did figure that he could get Democratic juices flowing again by dissing the Republican ticket, and that, given Democratic anxiety and depression in the aftermath of the presidential debate, this would be a useful thing to do.
In any case, people unhappy with Biden’s constant disrespectful smirking should know that it was the main topic in the after-debate analysis, on Fox, CNN, and elsewhere. He was widely chastised for it, including by Democrats such as Joe Trippi.
On the economy, I think the Undecideds will get the feeling that Ryan is serious and sincere about it, and that Biden is not. So that mirrors the economic part of the presidential debate last week, where Romney soundly defeated Obama. However, beyond his area of expertise,—budget, taxes, etc.—I cannot say that I was favorably impressed by Ryan. He looked wonkish and callow, and he repeatedly failed to come back effectively at various of Biden’s vulnerable points. Generally he doesn’t seem to have the ability to attack the other side with logical, persuasive force.
On foreign policy, e.g. Syria and Iran, Ryan was pathetic. In response to Biden’s repeated question, “What would you do differently from what we’re doing?”, Ryan had nothing to offer other than lame statements such as “We wouldn’t have called Assad a reformer,” “We wouldn’t have outsourced our policy to the UN.” He stated no substantive difference with the administration. I felt Biden won that part of the debate.
I reiterate that the Republican party are an absolute disgrace on foreign policy. I don’t think they have invested one brain cell in that area for at least the last 11 years.
Charles Krauthammer on Fox had a smart analysis. He said that if you read the transcript, the debate would be a tie; if you listened to it on radio, Biden would win because of the forcefulness of his delivery; but if you saw it on TV Biden would lose because of his smirking.
He also said that while people do not vote based on the VP nominees, Biden served the purpose of filling in the gaps left by Obama in the debate last week, thus setting the stage for an Obama comeback in the last two debates.
Paul K. writes:
The Bible provides succinct commentary on the vice-presidential debate:
“If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.” (Proverbs 29:9.)
I don’t know if “wise man” applies to Paul Ryan, but Joe Biden certainly acted the fool.
Chris K. writes:
The VP debate had some rocky points for Ryan, notably foreign policy, as you pointed out. Joe Biden has a loud, long, and wrong record on foreign policy. It should have been trivial to point out that Biden was a pro-Soviet, pro-Muslim, anti-American interest buffoon. However because Republicans have embraced liberalism to such a large extent that they hold many of the same positions, he couldn’t. Because the Democrats and the media arm of their party are such liars, the Republicans must forcefully point out that all the errors of the preceding 25 years have been because the Republican party took a liberal position, not because it was excessively conservative. The Democratic party has embraced sin, and it could be called the demoncratic party for it devotion to lying, perversion, child sacrifice, and theft. The Republican party has its share of sins, but it has not totally embraced them yet. We MUST Renounce liberalism and flee from the sin that lies at its heart.
Paul K. writes:
Ruminating over the VP debate, I’m wondering if Ryan was fully aware of all the faces Biden was making. Since Ryan was looking at the moderator as he spoke, he might have heard the chuckling but not seen the constant eye rolling, head shaking, and silent giggling.
It seems to me that the ideal response would have been for Ryan to stop speaking, look over at Biden, and politely ask him what he thought was so funny, much as a teacher might do to a disruptive student. It might have had the same effect as that moment in the Bush-Gore debate when Gore walked up behind Bush as Bush was speaking in order to intimidate him, and Bush glanced at him as if to say, “What’s your problem, pal?”
Politicians act in such a programmed manner that Bush normal human response was startlingly refreshing. It would have been nice to see the same in Ryan’s case, but it didn’t happen.
By the way, I talked to my one liberal friend today and he saw nothing odd about Biden’s comportment during the debate. He thought it was a welcome contrast to Obama’s subdued manner. (From one extreme to the other!) [LA replies: that proves my point that Biden’s behavior expresses the way Democrats really feel about Republicans.]
One of the reasons to despise Republican politicians is that they have no honor, no manhood. Bush in that debate with Gore was an exception. Gore, sneaking up behind Bush, was acting like a freak, and Bush just gave him this slightly startled, disdainful look like, “What the hell”? Bush at that moment acted like a real guy in the presence of a freak. Which also described the debate as a whole. It was the reason why, from that debate onward, though Bush had obvious weaknesses, I felt he was going to win.
But Ryan and Romney have these unmanly smiles pasted on their faces. Their whole project is to be inoffensive. I found Ryan’s continual slight smile very off-putting. He should have looked sternly at Biden, not smiling.
But what am I saying? How could Romney and Ryan have different facial expressions? Those weak, inoffensive smiles express their essence—the nothingness that is at the core of every Republican politician.
Paul K. replies:
I am accustomed to Romney’s off-putting, immobile half smile—it’s clear he’s not going to give it up. To see Ryan adopt the same phony mannerism was disturbing, as if it were the Official Republican Campaign Expression that everyone has to wear. A relaxed, sober demeanor would be far better.
“I am accustomed to Romney’s off-putting, immobile half smile…”
This reminds me of a line from a poem of Yeats where he is speaking of several of his friends who are dead:
And now their breathless faces seem to look
And that sort of describes the Republicans, doesn’t it?
Out of some old picture book.
I am accustomed to their lack of breath…
Also, see my idea of the sort of thing Republicans would say if they were alive.
Paul K. continues:
I am really struck by the programmed nature of political candidates. In the case of Al Gore, he was undoubtedly told by some debate coach that if he snuck up behind Bush as Bush was speaking, Bush would get flustered. I don’t believe he came up with this idea—he just followed it like some mindless android. It ended up looking ridiculous because Bush reacted like a normal human being. Similarly, I believe Ryan was told that when Biden speaks, he should gaze at him with a fixed half smile. Undoubtedly this demeanor has been through focus-group testing and judged a winner: “Be cool. Don’t let him get under your skin.” Ryan stuck with the program, though by doing so he lost the opportunity to triumph by reacting like a normal human being.
I don’t know about Gore being programmed, as his hyper-aggressive and extremely odd behavior in that debate (which may have lost him the election) seemed to come out of some personal compulsion. But I agree with you on Ryan, this was a decision his advisors made and he was programmed for it.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 12, 2012 12:21 AM | Send