Biden Unhinged in VP Debate, while Ryan exuded self-control
posted at 6:47 pm on October 12, 2012 by Matt Vespa
Last night’s Vice Presidential debate did put more pressure on Vice President Biden, who was tasked with delivering the same old progressive talking points about taxes, foreign policy, abortion, and health care – albeit with a little more spiritedness. However, the pervasive grinning, smiling, and interrupting came off as egregiously arrogant and condescending. Biden conveyed a “I’m gonna kill that kid” demeanor with his impatience and exuded the same entitled disposition that plagued President Obama in his first debate with Gov. Romney. You don’t get bonus points for being the incumbent – or at least you shouldn’t.
Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post wrote last night that:
…Biden’s aggressive performance is a sure winner for him (and the president) within the Democratic base. But, it felt to us like he went a little bit overboard and, at times, bordered on bullying Ryan. Biden’s derisive smiles and laughs while Ryan tried to answer questions weren’t great optics for the vice president and his repeated interruptions won’t make those who think politics should be more civil happy. Biden’s agenda was clear during the debate: he was set on erasing the passive performance of Obama last week. That he did, but in so doing it felt like he went a bit overboard.
However, while Cillizza admitted that the vice president acted like a ‘tool,’ that commentary was tempered since he also rated Biden’s last fifteen minutes in the debate as a win. Guy Benson cited The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan in his post on Townhall this morning reiterating Biden’s obstreperous demeanor.
Another way to say it is the old man tried to patronize the kid and the kid stood his ground. The old man pushed, and the kid pushed back. Last week Mr. Obama was weirdly passive. Last night Mr. Biden was weirdly aggressive, if that is the right word for someone who grimaces, laughs derisively, interrupts, hectors, rolls his eyes, browbeats and attempts to bully. He meant to dominate, to seem strong and no-nonsense. Sometimes he did—he had his moments. But he was also disrespectful and full of bluster. “Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy!” he snapped at one point. It was an echo of Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle, in 1988. But Mr. Quayle, who had compared himself to Kennedy, had invited the insult. Mr. Ryan had not. It came from nowhere.Did Mr. Biden look good? No, he looked mean and second-rate. He meant to undercut Mr. Ryan, but he undercut himself. His grimaces and laughter were reminiscent of Al Gore’s sighs in 2000—theatrical, off-putting and in the end self-indicting. Mr. Ryan was generally earnest, fluid, somewhat wonky, confident. He occasionally teetered on the edge of glibness and sometimes fell off.
When you interrupt your opponent 82-96 times throughout the debate, you certainly deserve this criticism.
Paul Ryan, like Romney, had command of the facts that demonstrated how the Obama/Biden ticket had policies that are anathema to American business. He showed that the Obama administration have no plans to deal with the looming fiscal crisis we face. For all the left-wing agitation over the Ryan budget, it received more votes in Congress than Obama’s alternative and is empirical evidence that Republicans have a plan. Obama’s secret weapon to pay down our debt and deficit still centers on raising taxes on the job creating and investing class. As Congressman Ryan said, if these individuals were taxed at 100%, it would only fund government for 98 days. We would still have a $300 billion dollar deficit. As many in the conservative movement have noted, increasing taxes on an incrementally shrinking base of taxable recipients, while not reforming our welfare state, is the flawed logic of leaping a chasm in two bounds.
On taxes, Biden hurled ‘malarkey of his own. As Human Events’ David Harsanyi wrote on October 12, Biden “continually swatted away claims that small business would be hit by President Obama’s tax hikes, even though an Internal Revenue Service recently found that Bush-era tax rates would mean around 1 million companies would be hit with new taxes.There aren’t enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending,’ Mr. Ryan said, attacking the central promise of a second term – tax hikes. ‘Watch out middle class, the tax bill is coming to you.”
However, Biden pivoted by invoking the middle class and defended the 47% of Americans ,who don’t pay any federal income taxes, who have been labeled as freeloaders. Everyone knew this jab was coming, but when Biden said “it shouldn’t be surprising for a guy [Mitt Romney] who says 47% of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives,” he forgets that there is some truth to Romney’s remarks. American liberalism is centered on destroying responsibility and filling that void with the government. You saw this when the Obama administration called unemployment benefits and food stamps a form of economic stimulus, instead of viewing it as a temporary solution to keep economically hard hit Americans from becoming destitute.
Concerning health care reform, Harsanyi wrote that “Biden also claimed falsely asserted that the Obama Administration had not raised taxes on the middle class, when in fact there are over a dozen middle class hike in Obamacare alone. Relying on a single left-wing study, Biden continued to make the Obama campaign’s case that Romney’s tax reform plan was mathematically impossible, despite the fact that other studies find that it’s feasible. And Ryan laid out the job numbers in proper perspective – as stagnant.”
On the 15% of Americans living in poverty and the 23 million struggling to find employment, the vice president asserts that the Obama administration will focus on “leveling the playing field.” Again, showing that American liberalism has radically shifted away from emphasizing equality of opportunity and towards equality of outcome. In doing so, we must sacrifice more freedom to achieve that goal. This is an aspect progressives omit when they, for example, push for the expansion of social programs, which they feel enhances the public good. By the way, the Dependency Index has increased 23% under President Obama – which is a whopping 67 million Americans who are sustained by at least one federal program.
On foreign policy, the vice president was again mistaken. Regarding Syria, the vice president feels that Assad will fall. However, with Iran flying over Iraqi airspace with impunity with supplies to keep Assad in power – that’s a presumptuous statement. Assad’s army is still strong and there is a chance he can survive this insurrection, which we should stay out of at all costs. Although, if the Obama administration wanted to ensure such an outcome, they shouldn’t have pulled out of Iraq. Iraq doesn’t have the capability to protect its skies since we provided for their air defense. Yet, we shouldn’t be surprised by Biden’s foreign policy inaccuracies. He, after all, advocated to partition Iraq into three semi-autonomous countries along racial lines that would be “held together by a central government.” It was an Iraqi version of the Articles of Confederation and we know how that turned out.
On Benghazi, some are saying Biden has damaged the administration irrevocably. Instead of saying it was a terrorist attack, Biden decided to throw the State Department and the intelligence community under the bus. Oh – and did I mention that he lied about the need for security. He said last night “We weren’t told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there.”
Well, Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy magazine wrote yesterday that:
In fact, two security officials who worked for the State Department in Libya at the time testified Thursday that they repeatedly requested more security and two State Department officials admitted they had denied those requests.
“All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources,” the top regional security officer in Libya over the summer, Eric Nordstrom, testified. “In those conversations, I was specifically told [by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb] ‘You cannot request an SST extension.’ I determined I was told that because there would be too much political cost. We went ahead and requested it anyway.”
Nordstrom was so critical of the State Department’s reluctance to respond to his calls for more security that he said, “For me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building.”
Concerning the intelligence community, Bryan Preston at PJ Media’s Tatler posted early this morning that Biden’s insinuation that:
…the Benghazi assault resulted from a protest because that’s what the intelligence community told them. It’s possible that the presidentially-appointed head of the CIA, Gen David Petraeus, blamed the assault on a video. Petraeus was quoted on Sept 13 doing just that in a briefing to Congress. But by that point it was already evident that the assault was a pre-planned terrorist attack and the administration had begun its pushback against that view. The question is, did the larger intelligence community agree with Petraeus?
In a word, no.
Flashback to Sept 26: The US knew that Benghazi was a terrorist attack within the first 24 hours.
Flashback to Sept 28: The US listened in as Benghazi attackers bragged to al Qaeda.
Flashback to October 3: The Obama administration had been told Benghazi was a terrorist attack within hours.
Flashback to October 10: The State Department says that it never thought Benghazi resulted from a protest over a movie.
By calling out both State (on the security) and intelligence (on the video) during the debate, Biden did two things. He expanded the cover-up to now include himself, in front of the entire nation.
Concerning Iran, nixing a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in New York – or with any other world leader for that matter – speaks volumes on how seriously this administration thinks about America’s image abroad. It’s a second tier concern. It’s not like Obama skipped out to be on The View – oh wait. I’ll just leave it at that.
I think were Paul Ryan made his strongest points dealt with the social issues. Concerning contraception and the HHS mandate, the vice president was fact checked today by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in this statement.
Last night, the following statement was made during the Vice Presidential debate regarding the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force virtually all employers to include sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion, in the health insurance coverage they provide their employees:“With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.” [Vice President Joe Biden]
This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain “religious employers.” That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to “Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,” or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.
HHS has proposed an additional “accommodation” for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as “non-exempt.” That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation “to pay for contraception” and “to be a vehicle to get contraception.” They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.
USCCB continues to urge HHS, in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.
The bishops are right. Furthermore, some colleges, like Franciscan University have dropped their coverage rather than submit to the unconstitutional assault on religious freedom led by the Obama administration. However, it may be a cost saving move in the long run as Ben Domenech, Transom editor and research fellow for the Heartland Institute, wrote back in May – “the mandate is currently slated to be an annual tax penalty of $2,000 for every full-time employee (or equivalent) beyond the first 30 workers. For some organizations, this will be a high price to pay. But they may find it worth it to retain their right to exercise their religious beliefs. And given the rising premium costs under Obama’s law–according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey, premiums for a family policy exceeded $15,000 a year in 2011, increasing an average of $1,300 from 2010–this might actually make fiscal sense, too.”
On abortion, the debate took a more ordered and somber tone. Ryan told a poignant story concerning his daughter Liza and where he and his wife, Janna, first saw her heartbeat when she was seven weeks old. He reiterated his belief that life begins at conception and how a Romney/Ryan administration would oppose abortion, except when in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk. Ryan also detailed the Obama administration’s war on religious liberty.
The vice president, on the other hand, walked a waffled line on abortion. He accepted the church’s notion that life begins at conception, but stated that he does not wish to impose that view on others in this country. He made the silly claim about the HHS mandate, as mentioned above, and basically said he was a pro-choice, pro-lifer on the subject.
In total, last night the vice president, as a man who ran for the highest political office twice before, came off as cantankerous and grossly unpresidential. His schoolyard bullying persona was immensely off putting and immature. Did he miss the early bird special at the Old Country Buffet or a nap? His incessant need to interrupt Ryan, since he probably knows that Obama record is atrocious, may have delighted the left since it made up for Obama’s flaccid debate performance, but the impatience showed that he too didn’t want to be there. Although, once you get Joe’s mouth running, one must begin praying that nothing ridiculous slips out. In the end, grandpa and his facial expressions throughout the night read ‘how dare this kid challenge me.’ It’s an election, Joe.
As for Ryan, he had some faults minor faults as well. While I felt his composure and knowledge of the facts were positives that added to the narrative that, not only is the Republican ticket more serious about the economy, they have a better understanding of it. However, Ryan should have pushed against Joe much more aggressively due to Biden being afflicted with diarrhea of the mouth.
In all, it was a slight victory for Ryan. I only say that because all Joe Biden had to do was not come off as soporific, lazy, or disengaged like Obama. Surely, the threshold for Biden was at shoe level. For Ryan, all he had to do was not look out of his league on the national stage. If some sort of event were to make a Mitt Romney unable to execute executive function, I would feel comfortable having the poised and presidential Paul Ryan to fill that role, instead of grumpy uncle Joe. When George Will slammed some of the more opportunistic Republican candidates at the start of the 2012 race, he stated that their involvement in this election would produce a nominee”much diminished by involvement in a process cluttered with careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons.”
I think “careless, delusional, egomaniacal, and spotlight-chasing” are rather appropriate terms to characterize Joe Biden, who shouldn’t be anywhere near the nuclear football.