After Obama’s “I’m president and you’re not” approach to the first Presidential Debate of 2012, those of us who enjoy politics as theater looked to Vice President Joe Biden to add some hot sauce to the dialog. POTUS gets to look dignified while VPOTUS takes on the bad guys – we all know the script.
As a centrist liberal, I wanted the Vice-Presidential debate to be focused on issues. There have been so many position shifts in the Romney camp that I figured Ryan (see my post on HIM!) would be toast. At very least, Biden would smoke out the truth about the Republican platform on national TV, and Ryan would get burned by his own statements on Roe-vs-Wade, Medicare and tax cuts for the rich.
While Sarah Palin was mostly hot sauce for McCain’s 2008 campaign, Ryan represents substance compared with his flip-flopping boss Romney. This debate was the Obama camp’s chance to put the truth about Ryan’s radical right wing agenda on national TV. My only worry was that Ryan at age 42 might be able to outdance the avuncular Biden, who is 69.
I needn’t have worried. Biden’s command of the material was impressive. When he started laughing he appeared to be so “on his game”, while Ryan struggled to keep his composure. On issues Biden did so well that I had to go factcheck.org to make sure I wasn’t missing something. All good stuff, except that Biden continued to laugh and laugh. I didn’t get the joke.
Is it funny to take Medicare away from my wife and give her a voucher that is not worth enough to replace it? Is it funny to pump up the defense budget when Ryan is asking everyone except millionaires to make do with less? Is it funny that Ryan wants to fill the Pacific with American ships that can be taken out by one missile? Of course Ryan was only 10 when Argentina sunk HMS Sheffield in 1982 [video]. There’s much to be said for Presidents who choose a seasoned running-mate.
By the end of the debate, Biden’s constant antics had become so irritating that they were detracting from his message. The Republican platform is mean when it’s not stupid: there’s nothing funny about it at all.