I think I’m more or less with Peggy Noonan on the outcome of last night’s VP debate — the debate seemed like a tie on substance (partly, I thought, because Raddatz seemed to avoid spending too much time on Ryan’s strengths, i.e. spending and the economy, and focused way too much on foreign policy), but Biden practically defeated himself with all of that condescending chortling he was doing. Maybe he was trying to seem personable and familiar, but he looked like an arrogant, discourteous drama queen, and it trivialized his positions.
One of the more galling moments, for instance, was during the discussion on the possible outcomes of a nuclear Iran. Really, Biden? You can’t cut the crap even when you’re talking about the very feasible possibility of open nuclear war? On MSNBC this morning, veteran journalist Tom Brokaw had some strong words for Biden’s childish behavior:
I just don’t think you should be laughing during a discussion about thermonuclear war with Iran. … It’s a very serious issue and however amused you are, it’s about tone as well as content. … It wasn’t about being overbearing. I thought that, in terms of content, he was very effective on Iran. It was the demeanor that he showed, and these are always a combination of the two. People are impressionistic when they look at these debates, and I don’t know how this is going to play out eventually, but sometimes you have to dial that down.
Brzezinski tried to defend Biden’s laughter, claiming he would’ve been criticized no matter how he’d reacted to Ryan’s misrepresentations or something, but I think Brokaw has it right here. I get that he was being contemptuous of what he thought was Ryan’s misunderstanding of the situation, but the whole episode was pretty grossly inappropriate and not at all presidential.