Who Gets the Last Laugh in VP Debate?

“I think the Vice President very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of [his] mouth the right way.” — Rep. Paul Ryan, giving possibly the best line of the 2012 VP debate

What can be said about this debate that hasn’t? Not much, so forgive me if this sounds kinda familiar. (And, yes, I may be slightly biased to the Right….)

I was going to say that the debate came down to “Substance vs Style”, but I have a hard time referring to the Vice President’s antics as “style”. His performance was a mix of “clown faces, grimaces, and smiles” (as per debate expert and pollster Matt Towery) and condescension, both of which were entirely inappropriate for either the office he holds or the stage on which he sat. “Substance vs Smirks” might me more accurate.

Biden and Ryan diptych from VP debateRyan proved he is more than just a fiscal policy “wonk”, as he went toe-to-toe with Biden on foreign policy and proved the saner of the two. (Well, I think so, anyway.) Biden seems to think that Iran isn’t really much of a threat (sound familiar?), that al Qaeda has been “decimated”, and he can’t see how the President’s (in)actions have made the U.S. weaker in the eyes of our enemies. Ryan, on the other hand, recognizes the threats to our safety and sees the need for stronger sanctions and a stronger military to give us “teeth” and make our promises to allies and warnings to enemies credible. He emphasized “credibility”, which is sorely lacking with the present administration.

Ryan certainly wasn’t perfect; he didn’t hit it out of the park. Seemed a bit nervous, in fact, especially in the first half. (Still, not bad for someone who hasn’t been in a formal debate for over a decade.) He gave a decent-but-not-great answer on the pro-life issue. Very good, informative responses on both military and economic issues. I was disappointed in a couple of his answers, which went a little off track and/or weren’t as clear as they could have been. He also missed opportunities to concisely rebut or clarify on some points. But, unlike his opponent, he didn’t constantly interrupt, bully, or rely on dishonesty, ridicule, and emotional rhetoric to make his case. He had solid facts and sound policies/solutions. (That is, when Biden and Raddatz allowed him to give/explain them.) Biden may have had a couple of legitimate points in there, somewhere, but they were overshadowed by his bright-toothed grins and head-shaking condescension. Ryan smiled, too, of course, but he was more restrained and respectful.

“There aren’t enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending…. Watch out, middle-class. The tax bill’s coming to you.” — Rep. Paul Ryan

When Biden wasn’t laughing, smirking, and muttering asides, he was repeating the same ol’ lies, misrepresentations, and party-lines that even some of his fellow liberals have stopped trying to promote. On everything from Obamacare mandates and Medicare cuts to intelligence both pre- and post-attack in Benghazi to his own voting record on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Biden’s statements were just false. Biden lies and demagogues so much, he can’t even get non-partisan facts straight. (Care to try again on the relative sizes of Syria and Libya, Uncle Joe?)

From their reactions to Biden’s grins & laughs, some commentators & ads want you to think that Biden finds troops dying in Afghanistan and ambassadors dying in Benghazi to be funny, that the idea of a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran is worth a chuckle, that high unemployment rates are humorous. Not so. He just thinks that Ryan is an idiot, Republicans don’t understand (or care) how the world really works, and conservative principles & policies are silly, heartless, and/or dangerous. It’s all part-n-parcel with Biden’s (and Obama’s, et al.) general arrogance and condescension toward Romney, Ryan, and anyone else who hasn’t bought into the Obamanation and, more generally, the utopian, “progressive” agenda.

This debate wasn’t nearly as one-sided as Romney vs Obama of the previous week. Definitely not a rout. But, when it comes to facts, substance, character and composure, Paul Ryan was the hands-down winner. (CNN poll agrees it was close but Ryan had the edge.) Unfortunately, if the Dems’ main goal for the debate was to give their base a glimmer of hope and make fence-leaners forget what Ryan said — and, hopefully, forget Obama’s dismal earlier performance — by keeping the spotlight on Biden’s “buffoonery” (exaggerated though the reports may be), they may have been largely successful.

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