October 12, 2012

Young Turk vs. Grinning Jerk

Hatched by Korso

To be perfectly honest, what I expected from last night's VP debate and what I got were two markedly different things. In one of my tweets, I characterized the contest as "Forrest Gump vs. Clarence Darrow" -- but in reality, it seemed more like Mr. Furious vs. Mr. Rogers. At one point, I actually thought that Joe Biden's hair plugs might pop right off the top of his head and spray Paul Ryan like a hail of birdshot. I got two words for you Joe: anger management. Check it out.

But, apparently, it must've been what the focus groups told David Axelrod that the liberal base wanted -- and in that respect, at least, ol' Smokin' Joe delivered in spades. He was loud, arrogant, nasty and condescending (and that was just to the moderator), and proved once and for all the campaign still has some feistiness left to it. I'm quite sure that Obama voters loved it. I'm just not so sure it gave them what they needed.

Here's why. In sending out Joe Biden to be his designated pit bull, Barack Obama has only underscored his own weakness (already telegraphed to obvious effect in last week's presidential debate). He's a lot like the kid who gets pushed around on the playground, cries like a baby in front of everyone, and then sends his big brother in the next day to finish things up. Whatever the outcome, it won't buy the kid any respect because it's clear he can't fight his own battles.

And that's assuming big brother can actually beat the other kid up. In Paul Ryan's case, Biden got in a couple of punches but never landed anything hard. In the process, though, the vice president came off as a real jerk -- laughing derisively, constantly interrupting, living up to the Democrat mascot and making a complete ass of himself -- which, from most of the press coverage today, seems to be the one thing that everybody remembers. How this plays with the almighty swing voters remains to be seen, but I don't think it'll be good.

Ryan, meanwhile, kept his cool and stayed above the fray. He seemed a bit shaky on some of the foreign policy questions, but when it came to economic issues he came across as firmly in command of the numbers and full of new ideas on how to turn things around -- something that the Obama administration (four more years of the same!) is sorely lacking.

Moreover, Ryan continued to project the image from last week of a reasonable alternative to Obama's tax and spend regime. Some conservative pundits may complain that he didn't soar the way Mitt Romney did, but to me that's rather the point: Ryan's job first and foremost is to do no harm and further the goals of his boss. Ryan got that job done -- in workman like fashion, to be sure -- but he did it nonetheless. That he didn't allow Biden to rattle him was also proof that the young man knows how to handle himself.

Bottom line: You could call the debate either way, depending on your leanings. However, Biden with all his huffing and puffing probably didn't help the ticket with independents -- and with the trends moving in Romney's direction, that's bad news for Obama.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 12, 2012, at the time of 7:16 AM

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