Ryan Won the Debate

October 12, 2012

If you missed the vice-presidential debate last night, bear with me for a moment.  Go to the Saturday Night Live parody of MSNBC’s devastated reaction* to last week’s presidential debate and watch from about the 1:45 mark to 2:05.  Transcript:


Parody Maddow:  Well, Chris I don’t know about that—


Now watch twenty seconds of the debate last night.  (Watch as much more “context” as you’d like—here’s the New York Times‘ video of the entire 90-minute debate; this part is around the 37-minute mark—but the more you see, the worse Biden will look, not better.)

The real Vice President Biden:  Ba-ba-ba.

As a friend of mine remarked during the debate, it’s as if Joe Biden had watched the SNL sketch, forgotten it was a parody, and taken the advice to heart.  That seemed to be his strategy last night:  Interrupt Paul Ryan, talk over him, and distract and disrupt as much as possible by making extravagant faces, gestures, noises, and laughter throughout.

Seriously, I thought Biden crossed the line last night:  I thought he was truly uncivil, not only to Ryan but also to the moderator, Martha Raddatz, whom Biden kept condescendingly calling by her first name, and with whom he became visibly angry.

By some counts (sources: one, two, three), over the course of the 90-minute debate, Biden interrupted Ryan about 80 times, and the moderator also interrupted Ryan about 30 times.

Despite all this, according to CNN’s poll, Ryan still won, 48-44.

In the British newspaper The Telegraph, Dr. Tim Stanley, a historian of the United States, agrees that “Biden was rude.”  After discussing other prominent Democrats’ behavior, he concludes with a larger warning:  “The Democrats are at risk of becoming vulgar.”  He also notes, “deconstruct the Biden bluster and some of what he said was nonsensical.”

Chris Wallace, thinking back on “almost every” presidential and vice-presidential debate since 1960, considers Biden’s behavior last night “unprecedented”:

I don’t believe that I have ever seen a debate in which one participant was as openly disrespectful of the other as Biden was to Paul Ryan tonight. . . . It was openly contemptuous and disrespectful . . . .

Within a couple of hours, the Republican Party had released an ad:

I’ve seen more than one person remark that Biden reminded him of Proverbs 29:9:

If a wise man contends with a foolish man,
Whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace.

More importantly, substantively, perhaps the biggest problem with what Biden said is that he actually lied and claimed that the Obama administration is not forcing countless Catholic and other institutions and individuals to pay for things they consider immoral (it is).  Via Wintery Knight, Life News .com has some of Biden’s breathtaking dishonesty in text form.  Wesley Smith calls it Clintonian.

What else did Biden get wrong?  National Review Online, Human Events, and Hot Air feature a little fact checking.

Robert Costa reports.

America is heading for a fiscal catastrophe.  Mark Steyn recalls that Ryan has faced people who think this is some big joke before.

Overheard from liberals on Facebook:

  • “Biden doesn’t even have to work. Martha has Ryan pinned.”
  • “I hate when they talk numbers and percents.”

(I think both admit more than they intended to.)

Other bloggers are discussing the debate, e.g.:

* Here’s video of the real Chris Matthews, arguably crazier than the parody.

If you missed the presidential debate last week:

Update (October 12th, 2012):  More on NRO:

When I asked for reactions on Twitter, the consensus that emerged was that Biden was seen as condescending, obnoxious, creepy, and generally unbearable.

If I had to characterize the whole shebang I’d say that Ryan underperformed to his detriment and Biden overperformed to his detriment.

(I also agree that it looked as if Biden were trying to bait Ryan into losing it, and that it’s great that Ryan managed not to.)

This terrorist attack is going to be a huge presidential-race issue. Americans are furious at the Obama-Biden-Clinton stupidity and mismanagement surrounding the tragic Benghazi deaths. They are enraged at the Benghazi cover-up. Ryan accused Biden of malfeasance in every aspect of this tragedy. It was a tremendous body slam right from the start.

And Biden [misled] everyone with a string of falsehoods.

I am less concerned about the lack of a broad bipartisan consensus that Biden lost the debate than the lack of a broad bipartisan consensus that Biden lost his marbles.

Update (October 16th, 2012):

From misrepresenting Paul Ryan’s legislative record to telling bald-faced lies about his own, the vice president offered a master class in the art of deception.

After the calamity they experienced in last week’s presidential debate, liberals needed to be bucked up by the Obama campaign, and I think they got that tonight. It probably came at a real cost— . . . but it will calm liberals down and it was absolutely essential for them to do that. The MSNBC types needed someone to be a jerk toward Paul Ryan to his face, and they got it.

. . .

Above all, I think a voter stepping back from all of this would have to ask himself just what the Obama administration is actually proposing to do in the next four years. Anything different from the last four years? Anything in particular at all?
  • Mark Steyn remarks that Clint Eastwood, in his speech to the Republican National Convention, called both the first and the second debate:  Obama was an empty chair, and Biden was “Just kind of a grin with a body behind it.”

4 Responses to “Ryan Won the Debate”

  1. Snoodickle Says:

    Dude, did you not watch what Romney did to Lehrer? At this point, you’re a parody of a mindless partisan.

  2. If that's what democrats are like Says:

    Haha! Snoodickle, two thirds of people polled (more of whom were democrats than republicans) thought Romney won that debate, and the independents I know said things like “He gave information and specifics, but every time Obama talked I got so bored because he didn’t say anything!”

    That’s not at all what they’re saying about Biden (who, as Chillingworth reports, is the “loser” by a margin of four).

    Again, the independents I know (even the left-leaning ones!) had really consistent reactions to Biden. One of them said, in response to Biden’s behavior AND the totally delusional positive reaction of liberals to his embarrassing performance, “If that’s what Democrats are like, I don’t want that!”

    Concise, to the point. That’s what they’re saying. I’m afraid that reality is not on your side. And honestly, I find it pretty weird that so many democrats want to stand by Biden on this one. Your choice, of course. I guess my friend is right: that’s who democrats are? I don’t want it either.

    Seriously, he did exactly what SNL parodied! AFTER the SNL sketch was aired! If democrats think that debating the serious issues of our day should sound like shutting down all discussion by shouting over it and acting like a belligerent six year old, and not actually making any arguments, well, OK. It gives independents a clear choice, I guess.

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