October 11, 2012
The Victory of the Normal
John Hinderaker -- my favorite blogger on my favorite blog -- was crushed by what he sees as Paul Ryan's "weak and submissive" debate performance:
I thought Paul Ryan’s performance was highly disappointing. He came across as weak and submissive. There were many opportunities for him to turn to Biden and say, “Joe: shut up! It’s my turn.” But he never did it. I can’t imagine why. Maybe Ryan and his advisers thought Biden would come off poorly because he was such a jerk, but this strikes me as a poor strategy. No one votes for a presidential ticket out of sympathy.
Frankly, I expected much more from Ryan, and he let us down.
Whaddya mean "we" Rocket Man?
Did anybody here really want to see Mad Dog Paul in the Veepbate? I know I'm awfully glad he didn't turn the debate into a steel-cage smugfest. What I saw was a candidate for Vice President debating in the normal way that such candidates always used to debate... until the Left, starting in the 2000 election, developed the delusion that Democrat domination of government was an entitlement program, like Medicare, Social Security, or crony kickbacks from green energy.
For the entirety of the third millennium, Democrats have acted as if the levers of power are theirs by divine right (provided we allow the worship of socialism to count as "divine"). When they lose, they wail, gnash their teeth, and set up a yowling that can be heard all the way to the dog star Sirius, notwithstanding the eight and a half lightyears of hard vacuum in between. The safest prediction a "pundant" could make would be that, when Barack "Video victim" Obama loses the November vote, he will immediately commence re-litigating the election... in federal court.
Paul Ryan represents the "normal style" of candidates running for high office: They have deeply held core beliefs, from which they generate policies, present them to voters, and argue that their ideas, policies, and leadership are better than their opponents'. Under the normal style in American politics, after the election, voters generally accept the outcome and consider the election to have been legitmate. Citizens, even those who opposed the winners and voted for the losers, can nevertheless come together to try to help the new government going forward; because they believe that regardless of political differences, all candidates are acting in good faith and sincerely want America to succeed.
But since the 2000 contest, we have increasingly seen, not the "paranoid style" (as Richard Hofstadter put it in 1964) but the Apocalyptic style in American politics: Democrats, liberals, and the leftover Left cast every election as Armageddon, the final battle betwixt the forces of Ultimate Evil (the "extreme, radical Right") and those of Pure Good (take a wild guess). It is an existential, all-or-nothing struggle that is so vital, so infused with the fierce urgency of Now, that it can never end unless the Left utterly conquers the world.
Small wonder they get on so well with radical Islamists!
The Left must win every vote, every debate, every exchange of "mal mots" on cable TV, no matter how trivial; else it's irrefutable evidence of corruption and skulduggery so monstrous that investigation by a United Nations committee is the very least that should be undertaken.
(Barack Obama is the ne plus ultra of that trend; he has achieved apotheosis, and a new religion of Obamunism has sprung up among his enthused acolytes. Who but a god could promise the cool the Earth and quiet the waters, and a host of other such vows? Who but a little tin god with feet of clay could so cavalierly break all of his pledges without a scintilla of shame?)
Tonight, the Normal Style fought the Apocalyptic Style... to mixed results. On the plus side, despite Joe Biden's 316 years in the U.S. Senate, Paul Ryan easily held his own against the Delaware Dirt-Devil. My gut reaction was that Ryan won by a nose, on points; this was confirmed by the CNN snap-poll that showed Ryan winning 48 to 44.
On the minus side, he merely held his own; Ryan was unable to do to Biden what his principal, Mitt Romney, did to President Obama.
But what if Paul Ryan had taken Hinderaker's advice and gone after Biden hammer and tooth? Might he have won more decisively? Perhaps, but probably not: Being an ambulatory incendiary is Joe Biden's holy calling; it would be tough to outsnide, outsmirk, and outboor a man so perfectly bred to the task. (No matter how learned and clever you are, you'll never outstink a skunk.)
But even if Ryan rose -- all right, plummeted -- to the challenge, the real losers would be the American people... because the Apocalyptic Style would score a default judgment, having coöpted both Left and Right into amoral self-immolation; and the war of all against all would win by technicality. (The Left's favorite way!)
Instead, the American people were reminded that it doesn't have to be this way. They were jolted into remembering that political campaigns and national elections used to be intellectual choices between two futures, often starkly different but nevertheless comprehensible. (As opposed to racking up ten of trillions of dollars in debt, impoverishing the nation, emasculating the military, socializing medical care, and accelerating Obama's determination to lead from behind by pronunciamento, diktat, and decree.)
By not pulling a Howitzer out of his pants and cannonizing Biden, Ryan may have failed to annihilate the enemy tribe; but he did save us from the bestial specter of tribalism. And I count that as a very significant battlefield victory in the ongoing holy war of the Normal against the Apocalypse.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 11, 2012, at the time of 11:50 PM
The following hissed in response by: GW
Dafydd, I think that you are missing the middle ground on this one. Ryan didn't have to turn this into a brawl, but he could well have made clear, in no uncertain terms, that Biden's behavior was unacceptable. Jack asses at debates need to be handled in Reagenesque fashion, with a bit of righteous anger ("I am paying for this microphone"). Ryan let himself get walked over - interrupted 82 times in 40 minutes of speaking by Biden, and 31 times by the not so neutral moderator. Ryan didn't have to smirk or interrupt himself, he merely needed to demand that Biden stop acting like a bar heckler and to call attention to Biden's wholly inappropriate ploys.
Even Romney's utter refusal to let Obama get in false last words at the last debate was a better paradigm.
The above hissed in response by: GW at October 12, 2012 9:44 AM
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