VP Debate: The Joker vs. The Boy Wonder

Joe Biden

While the vice presidential debate offered something everyone could point to as evidence that their side scored political points, I think the overall result can be encapsulated by a single sentence uttered by my eighteen-year old daughter Naomi about halfway through the debate, when she said “Daddy, Joe Biden really creeps me out.” It seems she wasn’t the only one. Afterwards, one of the main topics of discussion from the punditry was Biden’s creepy grins and inappropriate laughter. It was like watching The Joker from the Batman movie (the one played by Jack Nicholson), only without The Joker’s likeability or charm. That was on top of the constant interruptions, the bold face lies, and the general obnoxiousness of Biden, a man just a heartbeat away, as they say, from the presidency. It was really almost pathetic to watch, like watching a respectful young man patiently endure the idiocy and bellicosity of his weird uncle who gets angrier the drunker he gets.

Stylistically, it was fairly evenly matched. Biden was the more assertive candidate, and dominated the debate on the “visuals”, but on those occasions where Ryan was allowed to speak without being interrupted by Biden or having the moderator cut him off and change the subject, Ryan proved himself as the clear victor based on mastery of the facts and policy. Biden was far outclassed in this area, limited to recycling discredited talking points, regurgitating class warfare arguments, and gazing into the camera at the American people and offering up his version of that old Groucho Marx line “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” Creepy, indeed.

After the complete manhandling suffered by his boss, Barack Obama, at the hands of Mitt Romney the week before, pressure was on Biden to attack early and often (the same philosophy Democrats have on voting). And go on the attack he did, pulling out all of the rhetorical stops to shut Ryan down. Most surprising was the fact that, despite Biden being in government since Ryan was in diapers (literally), and despite his significant advantage in debating experience (Biden is a repeat loser in Democrat presidential primaries, basically the Susan Lucci of the Democrat Party), Biden was declared the winner in the CBS poll, but Ryan won 48-44 in the CNN poll, and crushed Biden by 20 points in the CNBC poll.

For those rating the debate based on presentation of the facts, Ryan scored a knockout. Biden’s lies and distortions were as blatant as they were frequent. He repeated the claims of the supposed $5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy, the Mediscare tactic of claiming a Romney presidency would leave poor old ladies to be eaten by the ravenous wolves running insurance companies, and attacking Romney for his “47%” comment (this was very effectively rebutted by Ryan telling the story of Mitt Romney’s personal generosity towards a family that had suffered a catastrophic financial setback after an auto accident, and by the best line of the night when Ryan looked at the gaffe prone Joe Biden and said “I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.”). Heck, Biden should be declared the winner just by virtue of the fact that he never once referred to Obama as “clean” or “articulate”, and never mentioned anything about Indian Americans and 7-11 convenience stores.

Still, it is worth addressing some of the more truth-challenged statements uttered by Biden. Perhaps the most shocking lie of the night was Biden’s statement regarding his votes authorizing use of American military force in Afghanistan and Iraq early in the Bush presidency: “I was there, I voted against them…I said, no, we can’t afford that.” This was shocking because it was so demonstrably false. Biden, a senator at the time, voted in favor of BOTH wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. On September 14, 2001, Biden voted in favor of the Afghanistan resolution (Senate Joint Resolution 23), and on October 11, 2002 (Senate Roll Call vote: Iraqi Resolution), he voted for the resolution authorizing unilateral military action in Iraq. And just to prove that this was not an unintentional vote, Biden made the following statement AFTER the 9/11 attacks: “We know [Saddam] continues to attempt to gain access to additional capability, including nuclear capability.”

In another puzzling response to a foreign policy question, regarding why America intervened in Libya but not Syria (where Bashir al Assad has slaughtered tens of thousands of his own people), Biden declared “[Syria] is a different country, it’s a different country. It is five times larger geographically and has one fifth the population.” First of all, that is completely backwards and off by a significant margin. Geographically, Libya is 679,362 square miles, and Syria is 71, 500 square miles, meaning that it is Libya that is the larger country, almost ten times larger than Syria. Population-wise, he also had it wrong, with Syria having five times more people (22.5M) than Libya (5.6M). Ryan poured salt in Biden’s gaffe-inflicted wounds when he pointed out that the Obama administration had remained utterly silent for more than a week at the beginning of the democratically-driven Green Revolution in Iran, where pro-democracy forces were beaten and slaughtered in the streets by the police and the Basij (a paramilitary group), or the fact that the increasing violence and chaos in and around Iraq is in part due to a failure by Biden to achieve a SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) with Iraq, which impeded us from consolidating the gains we’d made by the blood of our soldiers. Yet another example of Obama’s “leading from behind”, I suppose.

Ryan was particularly effective towards the end, when reciting the facts about Obama’s economic “recovery”; namely, that economic (GDP) growth in the U.S. is down to 1.3%, lower than it was last year, with last year lower than the year before. He pointed out that we’d spent nearly a trillion dollars in stimulus funds with Obama’s promise that in doing so, unemployment would never go above 8% (it has averaged 9.2% over Obama’s presidency) and that by now it would be at 5.6% and dropping (it is at 7.8%, and only that low because 500,000 Americans have given up hope and stopped looking for work in the last two months alone). He also pointed out that Obama is the only president to have actually cut Medicare, by $716 billion, and has crippled the Medicare Advantage program that millions of seniors rely on. There is a whole host of other evidence showing Americans are far worse off under the Obama “recovery” than they were before. After four years, it’s time to stop making excuses, time to stop talking about the mess Obama “inherited”, and time to put on those big boy panties and show some leadership.

Unfortunately for Americans, Obama has no leadership within him. He is a divider who obtained power by smooth-talking platitudes, a community organizer specializing in racial and class warfare divisions, lies, obfuscations and demagoguery. Biden did his job well, coming out and attacking Romney/Ryan and staying on the attack. Unfortunately, no amount of rudeness, laughter, interruptions, lies or obfuscations can cover up the fact that Obama is embarrassed to run on his record. As Ryan pointed out, “[we] have a president who ran for president four years ago promising hope and change who has now turned his campaign into attack, blame and defame. You see, if you don’t have a good record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone to run from. That was what President Obama said in 2008. It’s what he’s doing right now.” Indeed.

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