In the Arena

The Vice-Presidential Debate: Biden in Command

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Jeff Haynes / Reuters

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden makes a point in front of Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan and moderator Martha Raddatz during the vice-presidential debate in Danville, Ky., on Thursday, Oct. 11

This was a fine, fascinating, energetic debate. Joe Biden won — certainly on the substance, although he lost a bit on the body language. His frustrated smiles, head shakes, etc., etc., will become a Republican talking point and influence the postgame evaluations, even if they were sort of justified. Biden was in command throughout, a more forceful and passionate presence than Paul Ryan. But Ryan did well too — unflappable even when Biden nailed him on his requests for stimulus funding. And Ryan had some nice moments, arguing uphill against Biden’s onslaught. I’m sure he passed muster on foreign policy knowledge — he’s been to the Arghandab River Valley in Kandahar province, for God’s sake! — even if his policy proposals were either fatuous or dangerous.

If there was an emotional center of the debate, it came when Biden went on a tear about the middle class — about Mitt Romney’s 47%, about Ryan’s makers-and-takers formulation. “You’re talking about my mother and father,” he said. “You’re talking about soldiers fighting in Afghanistan!” The passion here was unique in this campaign: it was, without any question, real. Biden was truly offended by the current Republican “dependency” argument. He said Romney would have let the auto industry die, and Ryan responded, lamely, that Romney was “an auto guy” and then wandered into a treacly recitation of Romney’s beneficence after members of his church had suffered a car crash. Biden quickly acknowledged Romney’s personal rectitude but moved right on to the fact that he didn’t extend that humanity to the 1 million auto workers who would have lost their jobs if the industry had been allowed to fail. I suspect the debate was pretty much over at that point.

(MORE: Mark Halperin: Grading the Debaters)

On Medicare and entitlements, my inner wonk is arguing with my inner pol. My inner wonk keeps saying: Biden had nothing to say about how he would reform Medicare, and every human extant knows we have to reform Medicare. (Indeed, Biden had just about zilch to say prospectively, on any subject, about plans and policies that the President would enact to move things forward.) Here’s the problem: Ryan’s answer is just flat-out wrong. Forcing the elderly to make market choices with their — yes — vouchers is cruel and unproved. In some states, there are no health care markets. In Alabama, for example, you have a choice between Blue Cross and not much else. But the real answer to the problem — which is using electronic records and best practices, and restricting fee-for-service medicine, to cut the 30% to 40% of Medicare spending that is unnecessary — is too complicated to explain in the heat of a debate (unless you’re Bill Clinton, perhaps). But my inner pol says: Biden told the immediate market for old-age entitlements — baby-boomer geezers like me — exactly what they wanted to hear. It probably helped in Florida.

More than once in this debate, my inner wonk sided with the criticisms that Ryan was raising — while totally opposing his simplistic solutions. And there is a generational danger here for Democrats: younger people see a stagnant economy, with no jobs for them, and they have doubts that the social safety net will be there when they get old. This is a great political conundrum: older people should be wildly pro-Obama, but they’re not; and younger people should be open to the concerns that Ryan is raising, but they seem wildly pro-Obama.

(MORE: Biden, Ryan Clash in Aggressive Vice-Presidential Debate)

On the most important question, though, Biden did well — he did not seem goofy. A little over the top at times, especially when he was engaged in aerobic mugging while Ryan attempted to peddle his wares. Passionate, frustrated, but not goofy. Ryan did seem borderline geeky. At several points, talking about the economy, he rattled off a near incomprehensible string of statistics without anything that came close to humanity intervening. There was not one moment when Biden wasn’t human, wasn’t himself. He had awkward moments — but not one phony moment. (And I must mention that Biden did not use the word literally, which has almost become a verbal tic with him, even once.)

The Vice President was especially good when Ryan tried to raise Biden’s history of gaffes, after Biden mentioned Romney’s 47% soliloquy. “But I always mean what I say,” Biden said, totally comfortable in his skin. “And so does Romney.”

A final note: I am extremely prejudiced about Martha Raddatz. She’s a friend — and one of those journalists who consistently puts herself in harm’s way to report the truth. And she is truly devoted to the troops who took care of us, and amazed us with their courage and humanity, when she and I and dozens of other American journalists embedded with them; if she carries water for anyone, it’s for them. So I was outraged by the efforts of Matt Drudge and other skeevy right-wing propagandists to denigrate her integrity in advance of the debate. And I’m miffed by those talking heads who criticized her for spending too much time on foreign policy. If you hire Martha Raddatz to run a debate, you get foreign policy — and some damn fine domestic-policy questions and interventions as well. She ran a great debate, with some tough questions tossed at both candidates. Knowing Martha, I would have expected nothing less. She gave our sweet old democracy a debate we can be proud of.

MORE: Do Vice-Presidential Debates Matter?

190 comments
InMyMindsAyn
InMyMindsAyn

He looks like a third-world dictator throwing his hands and arms around wildly; ridiculing his opponent; and acting disrespectful.  At least he conducted himself professionally in 2008.  This time around they desperately needed a win after Obama made a fool of himself during the first debate.  Unfortunately, ridicule is a highly effective method of discrediting your opponent regardless of how disgraceful, dishonest, and uncouth it is to do so.  I would not feel comfortable with this Biden as President.  I think he's a little nuts to be frank.

Dean Mean
Dean Mean

VP Joe Biden obviously used his training from College Football

to sustain his blocks. Oh Wait, even though he just said on the Campaign trail

that he played football in College IT WAS A LIE'  and the fact that Libya is

Fives times SMALLER then Syria IS A LIE and most of the numbers bumble

head joe spouted, LIES and the Timeline for a Nuclear IRAN... BULLSCHIT'

and yet, Joe KlingyKlien thinks joe won..

your parents should be ashamed of you.

bebo
bebo

Is this the old Soviet Union?  It's getting impossible to not read the bias reviews here?  I've developed very succinct opinions of most of your writers. They are all so smug and left. Let's see how Obama does in his coached to death 2nd chance, after humiliation.   You can "tell us what happened" at these events.  I say go fuc- yourselves.

Stuart Reynolds
Stuart Reynolds

Maybe Klien wathed a different debate? he certainly didn't watch the biden ryan debate otherwise he would come to the conclusion that biden is  a likely dementia patient.

Benevolent_Lawyer
Benevolent_Lawyer

  Unemployment, in St. Reagan's first term:

 

1981 7.5 7.4 7.4 7.2 7.5 7.5 7.2 7.4 7.6 7.9 8.3 8.5

 

1982 8.6 8.9 9.0 9.3 9.4 9.6 9.8 9.8 10.1 10.4 10.8

10.8  

1983 10.4 10.4 10.3 10.2 10.1 10.1 9.4 9.5 9.2 8.8

8.5 8.3  

1984 8.0 7.8 7.8 7.7 7.4 7.2 7.5 7.5 7.3 7.4 

 

St. Reagan was a failure, as president.

Benevolent_Lawyer
Benevolent_Lawyer

  And who can think about LyinRyan without giving a thought or two to his good buddy, Toad Akin.

Rep.

Todd Akin (R-MO) has had trouble with facts about reproduction. He said

in August that women cannot get pregnant from "legitimate rape" because

“the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.” And in 2008,

Akin claimed that it is "common practice" for women “who are not

actually pregnant” to get abortions.

Now, the GOP Senate candidate who’s running against Sen. Claire

McCaskill (D-MO) said Thursday at a Tea Party meeting in Jefferson City,

Missouri, that there’s no science behind evolution:

AKIN: "I don’t see it as even a matter of science because I don’t know that you can prove one or the other. That’s one of those things. We

can talk about theology and all of those other things but I’m basically

concerned about, you’ve got a choice between Claire McCaskill and

myself. My job is to make the thing there. If we want to do theoretical stuff, we can do that, but I think I better stay on topic."

Ah, Missouri...where Troglodytes, Religious Fundamentalists and RepubliKKKrappers go to cross-breed.

Abraham Yeshuratnam
Abraham Yeshuratnam

Biden, like a clown, now

laughing, now gesticulating,, clumsily interrupted Ryan’s speech. Whenever

Ryan’s speech was interrupted, the flow of thought was broken, and Ryan could

not give the punch to smother Biden. Ryan wanted to highlight how Obama and

Bernanke have set America on a road of financial perdition and economic ruin.

Biden’s mannerism and behavior appeared nauseating and despicable to millions

of viewers. What is more, Raddatz’s role as Moderator was loathsome. Instead of

remaining impartial, she openly sided Biden, allowing him to interrupt Ryan,

and finally she herself interrupted by not allowing Ryan to emphasize some

vital points. . In spite of these obstacles, Ryan remained cool and became the

winner in the debate. After watching the contemptible and obnoxious behavior

and mannerism of Biden, even Democrats have opted for choosing the cool,

handsome and unflappable Ryan. This accounts for the lead of Romney in many

states.

Benevolent_Lawyer
Benevolent_Lawyer

  New Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Biden won. CBS

poll of undecideds shows Biden won. CNN poll shows a statistical dead

heat (4 point difference with a 5 point MOE)--among a sample that leans

more GOP than the norm by CNN's own admission. CNBC poll was online and

unscientific by CNBC's statements on it.   So why still call

this thing a draw? Ryan came prepared for little league baseball, Biden

was looking at the World Series. No complaining about how mean Ryan

thought Biden was will change that. If he can't handle an old man with a

fondness for ice cream being mean to him, how would he handle rogue

states and terrorists if the unthinkable happened and, God forbid,

Romney were incapacitated? He was unable to check Biden during the

debate despite having multiple opportunities, and he got rolled the same

way Obama got rolled by a more confident Romney a week ago.Elect Romney/Ryan?  Sure.  Bushwhack America all over again!

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

Seriously dude, if you have something to say...man-up and stop using someone else's identity.  It's pretty lame.

Benevolent_Lawyer
Benevolent_Lawyer

The Dear Liar Mitt: "I have a very good

team of extraordinarily experienced, highly successful consultants, a couple of people in particular who have done races around the world. I didn't realize it. These guys in the US—the Karl Rove equivalents—they do races all over the world: in Armenia, in Africa, in Israel. I mean,

they work for Bibi Netanyahu in his race."  

Wait, WHAT? So, Netamyahu's recent "We must make a Red Line for Iran" was not intended to interfere in the US elections? Do they really have the same campaign consultants?

SmilingSmartBlonde
SmilingSmartBlonde

JOE KLEIN

I agree wholehertedly with your words: "Forcing the elderly to make market choices with their — yes — vouchers is cruel and unproved. "

 I would like to add that Joe  Biden must have done well in the debates ... GOP people here in Florida seem to have transformed into zombies overnight!  Where are their brains?

A neighbor just mass e-mailed  the letter authored by David Seagel, Westgate CEO, using coercive threatening tactics on his own Westgate employees, strong-arming them to NOT vote for Obama. That letter is so wrong on so many levels...yet people here pass it onward, adding religious prayers to it! Zombies have invaded Florida!   See the article at gawker that contains the letter . Read it and consider if you were this guy's employee if you would dare defy him and vote for Obama. I bet job protection would seem much more important to the employee at Florida- based  Westgate.  I bet the  Medicare voucher issues would seem inconsequential. This is disgusting.

 http://gawker.com/5950189/the-...

Abraham Yeshuratnam
Abraham Yeshuratnam

Biden was allowed to be in command by Raddatz. Biden, like a clown, now laughing, now gesticulating, clumsily interrupted Ryan’s speech. Whenever Ryan’s speech was interrupted, the flow of thought was broken, and Ryan could not give the punch to smother Biden. Biden’s mannerism and behavior appeared nauseating and despicable to millions of viewers. What is more, Raddatz’s role as Moderator was loathsome. Instead of remaining impartial, she openly sided Biden, allowing him to interrupt Ryan, and finally she herself interrupted by not allowing Ryan to emphasize some vital points. . In spite of these obstacles, Ryan remained cool and became the winner in the debate. After watching the contemptible and obnoxious brhavior and mannerism of Biden, even Democrats have opted for choosing the cool, handsome and unflappable Ryan. This accounts for the lead of Romney in many states.

Albin
Albin

The VP debate makes the two remaining Prez debates more interesting in this way:  it raised the question, is this a race for the "undecided" or is this a race to bring out "the base" of each party. 

My personal (often wrong) view is that the "undecided" is a much overrated category - anybody who didn't make their minds up over a year ago seems brain dead to me.  I think this is a race for the base.  We'll see.

Benevolent_Lawyer
Benevolent_Lawyer

 

''I think the best answer is as little as possible.'' —Mitt Romney, when asked what he wears to bed at night, interview with ABC's ''LIVE! with Kelly and Michael,'' Sept. 14, 2012

Uh...Mitt....I think the question was about what you had on you BODY, not on your mind.

Benevolent_Lawyer
Benevolent_Lawyer

 

''We use Ann sparingly right now so that people don't get tired of her.'' —Mitt Romney, referring to his wife while speaking to a room of wealthy donors in Florida, May 17, 2012

Who, one wonders, is "we" -- the entire campaign team?

Benevolent_Lawyer
Benevolent_Lawyer

 "The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home"

- Mitt Romney is living in a fantasy world with this one. There is a

chance that a small small percentage of illegal immigrants will "self

deport". It is highly doubtful that any significant number will. This is

a horrible plan. It will never work. It will never happen. He needs to

face the issue and come up with a fair and equitable compromise rather

than making up fairy tale plans that will never work. That is not very

presidential.

MAGirl
MAGirl

You must remember that Obama took office after 8 years of Bush! Obama has done more for the country than Bush did in 8 years. He saved the car industry. Read the facts! By the way, where is Bush hiding? I see Clinton everywhere, but where is Bush? Ahhh I wonder why he hides! Mitt does not want to remind us that Bush is who caused all the financial mess right?

InMyMindsAyn
InMyMindsAyn

 It's replies like @MAGirl:disqus that are so full of blatantly inaccurate falsehoods that really concern me about the future of the country.  She couldn't tell you who Franklin Raines is and would have to look up the names of the GSEs which backed 100% home loans to those who couldn't afford them.  You want to talk about Clinton?  Here's Clinton's comment: "I think the responsibility the Democrats have may rest more in resisting ANY efforts by Republicans in the Congress or me when I president to put some standards and tighten up on Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac."  The Bush administration was pressing for a regulator at Fannie and Freddie as early as 2003; Democrats blocked the bill.  See video of Maxine Waters, Lacy Clay, and Barney Frank denying there was any cause for concern at Fannie or Freddie.  MAGirl most likely has no idea what I'm talking about.  Why?  Because she's part of the dumbest generation.  It's intellectual laziness and she's got her head so far up her ass that she is not interested in any plausible explanation besides saying "Bush is who caused all the financial mess..."  Why?  Wilful ignorance; intellectual laziness; sheer stupidity; economic aloofness.  Frightening to also think that someone can go through four years of college and come out as stupid as this.

bebo
bebo

I know it's a cliche, but have some more KoolAid.  Four more years of this?  No thanks.  It's your life -- take a chance.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 MA girl, this individual whose name is spelled with an underscore between Benevolent and Lawyer is an identity thief and known criminal pretending to be me. Here is a message I have posted here about him. He is well known for his horrific acts of rape, child molestation and theft.

Please note that MILDRED GILLARS AKA BEESCH  WHO WAS BANNED FOR

ATTEMPTING TO STEAL MY IDENTITY IS BACK AGAIN USING MY PSEUDONYM AND

PICTURE!!

This time he is pretending to be an Obama supporter and is no longer

a Romney supporter.

At this time he has an UNDERSCORE BETWEEN BENEVOLENT AND LAWYER, HE MIGHT

CHANGE the iteration later. This is so annoying. 

Again,  this criminal and rapist is using the same

picture and name as me, "Benevolent Lawyer" is a known online

miscreant,

identity thief and child molester who has been banned from this site a

few times. You would be well advised to ignore and report him as many here

continue to do. 

One other way in which  you can identify this criminal, is that he has

FAR FEWER comments than I do, if you click on his disqus profile. I have over 1400 and he has much much fewer because he is

trying to steal my identity.

Even though he is currently espousing Democratic support, he is a nut

job that has no real party affiliation or interest in dialogue, and is a

mere rabblerouser, child molester and criminal who belongs in jail.

He has stolen the ID's of other users of this site on many occasions

and has been repeatedly banned for those acts. In addition, he has

numerous pseudonyms on this site.

This man who has included an underscore between the word Benevolent

and Lawyer, could change his screen name to other iterations meant to

fool people into thinking that he is me.

It is ill advised that you exchange comments with this criminal.

If you can do so, please report him to the moderators of the

site.

Thanks much.

MAGirl
MAGirl

You must remember that Obama took office after 8 years of Bush! Obama has done more for the country than Bush did in 8 years. He saved the car industry. Read the facts! By the way, where is Bush hiding? I see Clinton everywhere, but where is Bush? Ahhh I wonder why he hides! Mitt does not want to remind us that Bush is who caused all the financial mess right?

MAGirl
MAGirl

I am from Mmassachusetts and Mitt left the state worse than when he took office. Massachusetts does not want Mitt, I wonder why? He is a liar, he will flip flop, he will tell you what you want to hear just to obtain your vote. Long live President Obama who has done more than Bush ever did.

bebo
bebo

Massachusetts is one of the most cold angry states you could ever visit.  It has this reputation but the people are walking around with scowls, and are suspect of changes.  You're using all the "flip flop" quotes.  Romey is running for United States president.  He can leave all you bitter Massholes behind.  I should know. I was raised in this witch burning environment,  Funny they are so open about a black president.  Remember the busing controversy in the early 1970's?  I wonder if the late Louise Day Hicks would be casting a vote for Obama?  Racism is engrained in this "liberal" wonderland.  The Govenor is black -- an Obama clone.

MAGirl
MAGirl

You must remember that Obama took office after 8 years of Bush! Obama has done more for the country than Bush did in 8 years. He saved the car industry. Read the facts!

InMyMindsAyn
InMyMindsAyn

Once again economic illiteracy on display.  If GM and Chrysler had not been bailed out by George W. Bush -- not Barack Obama, twit -- then what would have happened?  They would have gone through the bankruptcy process, renegotiated union contracts which are bankrupting the company again, and come out stronger.  It was stupid to bail them out.  There was no need to do it.  They would have re-emerged without the state dictating how they be run (this is also the dictionary definition of what economic fascism comprises).  I'm teaching you so much tonight for free, MAGirl!  You should say thank you!

Geonew
Geonew

What I don't understand is Republicans. They have this dual personality, as Biden pointed out in Ryan's request for Stimulus money, they accept government handouts yet condemn politicians and people for taking it.   If you guys are real, then don't accept anything. No one can then judge you as a hypocrite.  Examples - If your bank fails, then go down financially with the ship (free market?); farmers shouldn't take government aid when their crops fail; retirees shouldn't take anything more out of Social Security or Medicare than they paid in.  If you run out of personal savings and government contributions when you come down with some powerful illness, then either improve naturally or die.   It's the Social Darwinism you guys are preaching to replace traditional Christian values of social responsibility, now practice it.  Your example will be an inspiration to us doubters.

InMyMindsAyn
InMyMindsAyn

Yes, the bridge he wanted built in his district cost $1 trillion dollars to construct.

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

More amazingly, the one governer from the GOP who tried to turn-down stimulus funds was Mark Sanford (yes, that one with the girlfriend in South America).  The GOP in his state and nationally turned on him like a pack of dogs for doing so (and he finally accepted stimulus founds under vocal protest).  Talk about hypocracy.

ETD3
ETD3

Who pays for the stimulus? We all will, through taxes, over the next couple of decades. Would Obama exempt Wisconsinites from this additional future taxation if they refused stimulus funds? Of course not. So you expect them to accept no benefit but still incur their share of the costs? You're quite naive if you think Americans from any state are that foolish.

Benevolent_Lawyer
Benevolent_Lawyer

 "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that" -

Yes, he was talking about balancing the budget, and this is something we

desperately need. But nonchalantly casting aside an organization that

helps millions of women is unacceptable. Contrary to popular belief,

planned parenthood is not just an abortion clinic. It provides pre-natal

care to women who wouldn't be able to afford it otherwise. Many Planned

Parenthood locations offer classes to young parents. It provides STD

tests and breast cancer screenings. Overall, it is a complete woman's

health center for those that can't afford to go anyplace else. Millions

of people use Planned Parenthood, but I guess if you have the amount of

money Mitt Romney's family has, you don't have to worry about it.

MAGirl
MAGirl

Not that I would ever have an abortion, but now Ryan is telling us that if a girl is raped, she has to go through hell to prove she was raped? I rather pay for $20 on pills than have to support a child until he is 18 on welfare. Ryan and Mitt are a joke, I am from Massachusetts and we had enough of Mitt and his lies. He is a flip flopper and I rather have Obama for 4 more years than Mitt. He left MA a mess and when he decided he was going to run for president, he basically dropped everything and left. Do your research, Mitt is a flip flopper! He will say one thing and then will lie just to get the votes.

Benevolent_Lawyer
Benevolent_Lawyer

 "It's not the language I would have used" - This

doesn't sound stupid at first glance...but let us look at the context

here. When asked by reporters what he thought about Rush Limbaugh's

offensive comments about the college student who spoke on Capital Hill

about birth control, this is all he said. He did not say that Rush

shouldn't have called her a s!ut, or even that Rush is just an

overbearing entertainer. No, all he said was that he wouldn't have used

the same language.

ROMNEY-- LEADING THE REPUBLIKKKRAPPER HATRED OF WOMEN!