First published on Finding UnCommon Ground on October 12, 2012.
It was a classic comic book matchup.
Joe Biden playing the Joker. Rudely interrupting. Flashing a toothy smile. Laughing at the most unprofessional times. Condescendingly referring to Paul Ryan as “my friend.” Dude, this is THE vice presidential debate. This is serious business, not Let’s Make a Deal. Biden’s behavior threatened to steal the show and not in a good way. Bizarre.
And Ryan? Well, Ryan was Robin incarnate. Young. Polite. Mild-mannered. A tad naive, but refreshingly clean cut and reserved as compared to The Situation flailing about next to him.
Debates are won on substance, Aimee, not theatrics. Who won on substance?
That’s true. Each side will dispute the other side’s “facts.” The fact checkers won’t agree either, and voters will take issue with how the fact checkers interpreted the facts in their fact checking. This will go on ad nauseum. Here are the poignant substance moments for me:
Biden referred to Benjamin Netanyahu as Bibi.
I wanted to crawl under my coffee table. How embarrassing for our country. Even if Biden’s on a nickname basis with Netanyahu, it’s inappropriate to refer to Israel’s leader as Bibi in a debate. On your Twitter feed maybe, but not in a nationally televised debate. Not respectful. Not classy. Not vice presidential. Biden made Ryan’s point: our casual leadership communicates weakness to our allies and to our enemies on the international stage. Why would they take us seriously?
Biden insisted the Middle East problems aren’t really as bad as we all know they are.
Terrorists in the Middle East hate us. I repeat, they hate us. I’m sorry to have to break it to some of you, but they want to kill us. Dead. Deceased. Obliterated. No more. What difference does it make if Iran is four weeks or four years away from a having a viable nuclear weapon? They need to be stopped now.
Does Biden seriously think our declaration of 2014 as the end of the war in Afghanistan will really be the end? To quote Lara Logan from her speech earlier this month in Chicago:
“You’re not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight. In your arrogance, you think you write the script, but you don’t. There’s two sides and we don’t dictate the terms.”
And Biden had the nerve to blame the intelligence community for Obama’s disastrous response to the terrorist attacks in Benghazi. Blame shifting seems to be a Democratic strategy of choice these days. Blame a YouTube video, blame the Republicans, blame intelligence. You know what’s coming next. Wait for it…
Biden blamed George W. Bush. Again.
I have a soft spot in my heart for President Bush 43, and I’m not alone. Bush had his faults, yet I never once doubted his love and loyalty for America. I grow weary of people like Biden directly and indirectly attacking, demeaning, and blaming Bush for the ills of the universe. Liberals like to poke fun at him and call him a cowboy. But I like Bush. I like cowboys.
Abortion emerged as the sleeper issue.
The abortion issue still plagues America. Lisen and I will write more about it next week. Last night, the VP candidates came out swinging. Ryan said, “I believe life begins at conception.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that. In that one statement, Ryan showed he understands the bedrock of the pro-life perspective. And, unlike Biden, he adheres to a position in line with his Catholic faith. We know what the man stands for. That counts for something in my book.
Biden didn’t thank Ryan, but Ryan thanked Biden.
Thanking one’s opponent at the end of a debate is a common courtesy. You learn that on the high school debate team. It’s good manners and good statesmanship. Did Biden simply forget? Or was this a final jab of disrespect, consistent with his demeanor throughout the debate? And we wonder why bipartisanship is nonexistent in the Obama presidency.
Biden has been a public servant since 1973, and that’s commendable. His acting out last night, however, was odd and inexplicable at best. Desperate at worst.
Meanwhile, Robin, er, Ryan held his composure. Calm, cool, concise, clear, polite. Maybe I’m partial to him because he’s my age; he’s Gen X. Maybe it’s his manners or the fact that that he wasn’t projecting as poorly as the current Vice President. With Ryan, I can see a glimmer of a chance for functional government again.
Holy hope and change, Batman! We have a winner!