Open thread: The VP debate

posted at 8:31 pm on October 11, 2012 by Allahpundit

9 p.m. ET across the dial. It’s true that VP debates usually don’t matter, and Gallup has the data to prove it. It’s also true that the shellacking Romney gave to the Empty Chair in Denver has created an unusual and unpredictable late swing in momentum. What we’re looking at tonight, then, isn’t so much a potential gamechanger as an opportunity to preserve a game that’s already changed. If Ryan makes a good impression, it’ll cement the impression Romney made at the last debate and give undecideds more confidence in rolling the dice on the new guys. That makes Biden’s task simple: Ensure that Ryan doesn’t make a good impression by calling him a liar, a woman-hater, blah blah. Dave Weigel went back through the Biden debate archive and found that he’s perfectly comfortable in that role:

The Clatworthy debates give us a better idea of Biden’s style than the Palin debate of 2008. That match-up was sui generis. Biden’s job then: Just don’t do anything that would make a swing voter root for the put-upon Hockey Mom. But Biden’s job, in his Senate races, was to humiliate Republicans by pointing out how cruel their policies were, and how little they knew. Abortion and women’s safety issues, which he could never deploy against Palin, are the tools he knows best. When Biden meets Ryan tonight, it would be out of character if he didn’t try to mire him in a discussion of pro-life bills and “legitimate rape.” Plenty of pols use soft language when they have to discuss those issues. Biden doesn’t.

Really, whenever an issue can be mined for pathos, Biden thrives. In the second Clatworthy debate, after the Republican failed to trap the senator into a joint PAC money-pledge press conference (“See if anyone shows up and pays attention to you,” said Biden), moderators switched the discussion to entitlements. It was 1996, and the fiscal problem du jour was whether to balance the budget by 1999 or by 2002. Clatworthy suggested that a privatized Social Security system and privatized Veterans Affairs administration would be more efficient. Biden reacted like he’d just heard a Tourettes patient question the death toll of the Holocaust.

A few days ago I predicted plenty of table-pounding atmospherics from Greasy Joe in the name of re-energizing deflated liberals and winning back wavering middle-class indies. With Obama advisors now telling Politico to expect a “very aggressive” debate, I’ll stand by that. He’s not going to win this on substance, but if he gets outrageously outraged enough, the media will award him the decision on “style” for having effectively channeled their own anger at the prospect of a GOP win. (Besides, it’s the first step in the inevitable “Obama comeback” narrative.) Hope Ryan’s ready to repel a sustained effort to keep him on the defensive, especially since, with Biden’s favorables already underwater, he doesn’t have to worry about coming off as a nice guy. Read Ace for more on why it’s foolish to underestimate him: The moderator’s under pressure not to anger the left the way Jim Lehrer did, all issues — including easy demagogue-able “war on women” trivia — are on the table, and Biden’s proved plenty of times that he’s good enough behind a mic to impress low-information voters. The left needs someone tonight who can grandstand effectively, not out-brainiac Ryan on federal budget minutiae. A guy who got elected to the Senate six times and then to the vice-presidency can grandstand effectively.

Robert Costa has a nice piece on Ryan’s exhaustive debate prep so read that while you’re waiting for the show to start. (Note the bit about Ted Olson mimicking Biden down to his hand gestures.) One obvious X factor: How much time will moderator Martha Raddatz spend on the White House’s Benghazi clusterfark? A Romney advisor told Byron York that Ryan’s prepared to hammer Obama’s “unraveling” foreign policy, but that he probably won’t get into the weeds on Libya and the subsequent cover up. That might be for the best: When it comes to terrible foreign-policy decisions endorsed by his opponent tonight, there’s an awful lot of other ground to cover.

Here’s the handy dandy Hot Air/Townhall widget for debate live-tweeting. If you’re looking for drinking-game rules, Reason has got you covered. Exit quotation: “Joe just needs to be Joe.”

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It is good to see my dear friend, Manly, back. Without him, I would not be posting this, my 934th Blog.

kingsjester on October 12, 2012 at 6:44 AM

I’m pretty sure Joe might have been on “bath salts”…

RonRon on October 12, 2012 at 7:30 AM

RonRon on October 12, 2012 at 7:30 AM

I’m thinking it might be amphetamines, that they pumped him up with speed.

petefrt on October 12, 2012 at 7:55 AM

I heard Huckabee comment this morning that Biden needed to show up sober and with pants on. Well, he was wearing pants. Someone needs to check on Andrew Sullivam this morning too and make sure he didn’t step off the ledge after last night. Can’t wait to hear Axelrod and Cutter spin that fiasco.

Ellis on October 12, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Words of encouragement for Mr. Ryan:

Proverbs 29:9 – If a wise man has an argument with a foolish man, the fool only rages or laughs, and there is no rest.

Quote was also on this morning’s “Ace”.

rplat on October 12, 2012 at 8:02 AM

Biden was told:”Go on the offensive”

Biden heard: “Be offensive”

hoosierma on October 12, 2012 at 8:16 AM

Ryan never challenged the multiple times Biden said we don’t need to worry about Iranian nukes until they enrich enough to make a bomb, and get close to making a weapon to put it in. He makes 3 assumptions: 1 Making the weapon is the hard part, 2. Iran won’t begin making the weapon until they enrich enough (because Iranian’s can’t multitask?) and 3. We know will know for certain when they begin working on such a weapon. All of his plans for stopping Iran hinge on intelligence knowing exactly what is going on inside Iran, but, according to Joe, that intelligence couldn’t tell him that the diplomats needed more security in Libya.

tdarrington on October 12, 2012 at 8:20 AM


msupertas on October 12, 2012 at 8:52 AM

I am disappointed that Paul Ryan did not hit Joe Biden hard with the fact that Biden has been President of the Senate the entire time that the Senate has broken the law and failed to pass a budget for:
FY 2010,
FY 2011,
FY 2012,
and now FY 2013.

If Biden was doing his Constitutional job, he would be presiding over the Senate every day and putting pressure on that body to fulfill its legal obligation to pass a budget.

ITguy on October 12, 2012 at 8:59 AM

I want to correct a misstatement by Paul Ryan:

RYAN: Or remember when he [Obama] said,

“I promise by the end of my first term I’ll cut the deficit in half in four years”?

We’ve had four budgets, four trillion-dollar deficits.

We have indeed had four Trillion-dollar deficits under Obama and Biden. But we have not had four budgets.

We last had a budget when Obama signed the FY 2009 budget.

We did not have a budget for FY 2010.

We did not have a budget for FY 2011.

We did not have a budget for FY 2012.

And we do not yet have a budget for FY 2013, which started eleven days ago, on October 1, 2012.

ITguy on October 12, 2012 at 9:16 AM

It all boils down to whether Americans want a leader who demonstrates he wants to serve the public or dispense goodies to the public. Ryan demonstrated politeness, respect and deference. Biden demonstrated that he is the guy in charge of doling out stimulus funds and you had better be [email protected] well grateful for it. He was also contemptuous to someone who disagrees and the moderator.

txmomof6 on October 12, 2012 at 10:00 AM

ITguy on October 12, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Great point … just further evidence that the U.S. Constitution is dead; i.e., it’s words have no meaning to most politicians who take the following oath of office when sworn in:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

ShainS on October 12, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Biden came off as a complete “jerk”.

avagreen on October 12, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Cindy is a personal friend. I guarentee the right exchange of words right now would make her one of yours too. She is not a person to engage in very bitter exchanges.

Let’s, if we can, just back off a tad and start over.

hawkdriver on October 12, 2012 at 12:03 AM

I genuinely appreciate your concern (not being snarky when I say that.)

Just to be clear so that there’s no misunderstanding, which can easily happen online, I wasn’t being negative towards Cindy. I think smellthecoffee overreacted a little, but, I don’t take it personally!

None of us agree on everything. I would hate to be deprived of either commenters over a personal preference in conservative commentators.

Cindy Munford on October 12, 2012 at 12:09 AM

I understand, and agree. I’ll say at the same time that I didn’t think what I said to ManlyRash was going to get under his skin – it’s not like he’s a fragile, wilting flower from the Left!

Anti-Control on October 12, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Seems like all the media are declaring Radditz the “winner” or “star” of the debate.

Do they not understand that this was a VP debate between the two candidates and not a performance/debate by the moderator? No one cares about the moderator. It should be all about the candidates.

kage on October 12, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Anti-Control on October 12, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Too true! I hope to “see” you around a lot.

Cindy Munford on October 12, 2012 at 11:24 AM

kage on October 12, 2012 at 10:58 AM

She did what the Obama administration needed her to do, promote the the non-existent war on women and stop all wars because our troops are embarrassment to the nation.

Cindy Munford on October 12, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Didn’t Ryan watch TV over the last few days with the revelation that there are documented requests for more security at the embassy? He should have call Joe out as a lier for that… and 5 trillion and the “giving money to the rich”, since when is NOT taking the same as giving?

rgranger on October 12, 2012 at 1:21 AM

Actually, Ryan DID say there were requests for security, showing that he is more up to speed on current affairs that “Joe being Joe” is. It was quick, however, and Raddatz was quick to jump ship to another question when Ryan tried to bring it up. And the $5 trillion “tax cut to the wealthy”? Ryan also brought up that the Administration’s own people (AKA Stephanie “Libya is all Romney’s fault” Cutter) said it wasn’t true. He then went on and tried to show HOW the math adds up, but Biden AND Raddatz both kept interrupting him and cutting into his remarks so that he couldn’t get it clearly out. It was pathetic how far on Biden’s side the moderator was last night. Truly repulsive.

Highlar on October 12, 2012 at 11:30 AM


Bmore on October 12, 2012 at 1:06 PM


The “bully pulpit” has a new meaning in 2012. The media consistently addresses “bullying” in social media such as Facebook, yet they turn their backs on the bullying from the presidential and vice presidential pulpits.

It is abundantly clear how this administration is pounding our country, and specifically the middle class, into the ground.
Biden plainly demonstrated the Obama/Biden Administration’s ideology, tone and agenda. He validated their complete unwillingness to engage in discussion; to listen and evaluate alternative concepts; to engage in meaningful dialog; to allow an opposing voice; and to seek the truth regardless of the consequences. What we witnessed last night is what happens in Washington each and every day. Is there any wonder that “our” government is gridlocked?

The world has seen political bullies before. Russia in 1917. Germany in the ‘30s and 40s. Italy, China…

It is sad to see my country deteriorate into this morass, planned and executed by narcissistic ideologues for the purpose of consolidating their power and wealth while subjugating the citizens.

TimeOnTarget on October 12, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Whats with the Hannity hate? – hawkdriver on October 11, 2012 at 11:38 PM

Not hate…call it disdain. He’s not the brightest bulb in the chandelier and an attentive, intelligent aficionado of talk radio can discern it immediately. I’ve written about this plenty of times previously but can sum it up succinctly now:

Hannity is the poor man’s Rush Limbaugh – a braying, cackling, repetitive simpleton who nevertheless figured out a formula for success: turn a three hour post-Limbaugh radio show into a drawn-out promo for a one hour cable television show.

His style is predictable to the point of insufferable irritation: regular listeners know with certainty that at some point they will hear the following words and phrases: “dirty air and dirty water,” “kids with Down Syndrome and autism,” “blame it on kiosks, ATMs and tsunamis,” and so forth.

You can tell when he’s not speaking from notes or a script by his frequent use of “ummmm…you know” every ten words.

Then there are the interviews: always the same guests and always the same repartee. When he interviews Frank Luntz, you just KNOW that at some point Luntz is going to get teased about how he treats the people in his focus groups. It’s become boring schtick that reminds me of the pudgy, half-retarded kid on the playground who keeps telling you the same joke every day in the expectation you will find it just as hilarious as the previous 729 days he told it to you.

Then there are the “earth-shattering” video revelations that will be a game changer. Remember the last one regarding Obama’s racist speech? Hannity talked it up like it would end the campaign the night it aired – on his cable show, of course, because that’s where he makes the big bucks.

The man is a dim-witted ratings whore. That he shills for conservatism is a benefit, I suppose, but a benefit only if you can tolerate the sound of his voice.

ManlyRash on October 12, 2012 at 12:12 AM

If you haven’t been behind the mike yourself on a national stage like Hannity is or at the very least done some local radio you probably should keep your mouth shut since your opinion is valueless.

rodguy911 on October 12, 2012 at 8:48 PM

Too true! I hope to “see” you around a lot.

Cindy Munford on October 12, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Thanks for that! Likewise. :)

Anti-Control on October 13, 2012 at 10:26 AM