To The Victor, No Spoils
Last Thursday night gave us the one and only debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., WI), which was held in Danville KY.
The run up to the debate featured a silly side story about ABC News reporter Martha Raddatz's wedding 20 years ago.
The conservative news outlet The Daily Caller reported that Barack Obama attended the wedding of his former Harvard University classmate, who happened to be Ms. Raddatz's first husband.
She didn't know him; and, at that point, he was still a community organizer, not a nationally prominent public figure. A number of leading conservative figures hinted that something sinister might be afoot. Nonsense.
Less covered, but equally problematic, is the fact that Ms. Raddatz made at least one visit each over the last few years to the vice president's official residence (attending a women's recognition event) and the White House for undisclosed purposes.
She is a senior foreign affairs reporter for ABC News, though. It is both possible and likely that she was in both places for official Fourth Estate business; but accusing her of some underhanded scheme to aid the vice president makes for quality copy.
So, if you accept the premise that she went into the night free of bias, then we can pick apart the performance of the two combatants.
First, Paul Ryan. Representative Ryan held his own against his much more seasoned opponent. His primary objective was not to get crushed by Mr. Biden, to show Americans, and especially undecided voting Americans, that he is ready for primetime.
He did that quite well. He sounded serious and appeared credible. He thought about his answers before engaging his jaw flap, and he avoided being too direct and confrontational.
Most importantly, he avoided being a budget wonk. Congressman Ryan has a reputation for minutiae, but he avoided getting into too much detail in his answers.
If there's a knock on Paul Ryan, it’s that he came across as thoughtful and respectful, giving deference to both the vice president and the moderator, maybe a little too deferential.
Vice President Biden, on the other hand, was animated, vocal, confrontational and aggressive. From the opening statements, he was on the attack. The tools in his arsenal included grins, sarcastic head shakes, arms thrown skyward, derisive guffaws, and groans.
The funny thing is that like Paul Ryan, Joe Biden's debate performance is viewed by his own party as a smashing success. The Democrats were so desperate for a performance more animated than the one given by President Obama a week prior that Biden's frequent and disrespectful interruptions satisfied their cravings.
The odd thing is that this race is now in the hands of those who don't make their electoral choices based on the two major parties. This time, the truly undecided voters will select the president.
Mimicking Gov. Mitt Romney from last April's hidden video footage, 40-some percent of voters are already in the bag for the president. It doesn't matter what the GOP candidate says, almost half the electorate has bought into the promises of the Obama Administration.
Likewise, another 40-some percent are self-identified Barack Obama haters, and nothing he or Vice President Biden can say will change that fact.
The only battle left is for the single digit undecideds, and after the poor performance of President Obama, Mr. Biden needed a grand slam. He didn't get it.
Joe Biden started off the night talking about the security situation in Benghazi, Libya. In what should have been a high-water mark, the first major election season foreign affairs issue exposes a weak and disjointed White House.
In response to a question from the moderator, Joe Biden said the administration was unaware that the Libyan embassy had requested additional security for the Benghazi consulate.
Not two days before the debate, State Department officials stated under oath on Capitol Hill that they had requested additional security troops. That request was flatly denied.
Mr. Biden is either incompetent or lying. Either way, his flail continues a confusing and inarticulate response to this crisis.
Time for the Watergate Question: What did this president know, and when did he know it?
On the issue of economic sanctions against Iran, Mr. Biden said that President Obama worked with an international coalition to enact some of the toughest sanctions in history. He either forgot or is avoiding the fact that the most successful sanctions, those levied against Iran's central bank didn't come from Team Obama.
The only reason the central bank sanction got added is because Paul Ryan and his GOP buddies in Congress demanded its inclusion. Left on its own, the Obama Administration would have preferred to leave it out.
In another stunning moment of hypocrisy, the vice president attacked Mr. Ryan for voting to put two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) on a "credit card." The inference is that the GOP House majority, along with former President George W. Bush, plowed the nation into debt, and only President Obama, Vice President Biden and Democrats in Congress had a hand in digging us out.
Unfortunately for ol' Joe, a quick check of the votes show that then Senator Biden (D., DE) also voted for both of those credit card-funded wars.
You see, in a national debate, it's almost as if the protagonists think no one will hear you lie.