High five to Reince for getting this out with a straight face. It’s one thing to ask him to perform basic talking-points puffery for the party by raising expectations for the Democrats at the debate, it’s another to ask him to articulate thoughts no human being has ever had. Not even Debbie Wasserman-Schultz could have made it through this line without a nervous giggle. Compare the first clip below, recorded yesterday, to the second, recorded just before the convention. A heroic effort at salesmanship by the chairman while the chips are down.
The focus on Mr. Biden comes as the campaign tries to diagnose what went wrong in Denver and what to do about it. Advisers had seen two presidents during practice debates, one who had been listless and passive two nights before and another energetic and aggressive the next night. It turned out the former was the one who showed up in Denver…
Mr. Obama does not like debates to begin with, aides have long said, viewing them as media-driven gamesmanship. He did not do all that well in 2008 but benefited from Senator John McCain’s grumpy performances. Mr. Obama made clear to advisers that he was not happy about debating Mr. Romney, whom he views with disdain. It was something to endure, rather than an opportunity, aides said.
Here’s the thing about Reince’s spin for the ages, though: I am a little worried about Thursday’s debate. Not because Biden is a (heh) “gifted orator” or because I’m a dirty, dirty eeyore, but because expectations are so impossibly low that he’s guaranteed to overperform. What could “Joe Bidenopoulos” possibly say up there to make reporters come away thinking, “I thought he’d be sharper”? He’s not going to break out his action figures for playtime at the podium. He’s not that kind of doofus; he’s the kind of doofus who lobbies against the Bin Laden raid. After O’s meltdown in Denver, realistically all Biden has to do to succeed is pound the table and keep Ryan on the defensive with angry accusations about puttin’ the middle class back in chains, etc. The left will treat an angry performance as some sort of righteous catharsis after Obama’s passivity last week, and the media, which is so hungry for a Democratic “comeback” narrative that they’ve already started writing it, will happily declare Biden the winner for using “style” to trump Ryan’s substance or whatever. Remember, they love to punish candidates who underperform on retail politics. That’s the danger for Ryan on Thursday: No matter how sharp he is, the “comeback” bias plus Biden’s alleged ability to “connect” with the average joe will have the media deck stacked against him from the beginning.