The choice of Joe Biden as VP for the Democrats was a bit of a mystery to me. Sure, he comes with some amazing insight into the ways of Washington. But he also comes with one heck of an impediment: he does a very poor job of self-regulating. My mother long ago taught me that “just because you think it doesn’t mean you have to say it.” Joe’s mother may never have had that chance. Or perhaps Joe refused to listen.
Let’s set the scene. Tonight is the vice-presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Some are billing it as “the Thrill in the ‘Ville.” They may be right. Republican Paul Ryan has a wealth of financial and government data at his command and he has already demonstrated that he’s not afraid to use it. Democrat Biden has a reputation as an experienced politician who sometimes allows his mouth to move faster than his brain. No matter how you slice it, tonight’s debate should be exciting.
My hope is that Ryan will be measured and accurate, but not timid. He has to present the facts against this current administration in a way that proves the economic dangers they’ve offered in place of leadership, but without bringing boredom and confusion to the public. My hope for Biden is that he feels the groove of the moment and breaks the leash that was put on him by the Democrat party several days ago. Essentially, he was yanked off the streets for a six-day preparation period as tonight’s debate draws near. Perhaps this is because, as some have argued, Biden is a “happy warrior” who enjoys debate prep. On the other hand, perhaps it’s because there are those among his handlers who know his penchant for losing control of his tongue.
Many are expecting that “Smokin’ Joe” will go on the attack tonight. Democrats would like to shore up the independent vote and regain the undecided vote, especially in light of Barack Obama’s poor performance last week. They also want to reassure the media establishment that was so devastated by that performance. (There wasn’t just one meltdown last week; Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC suffered their own implosion at the time.)
Joe will probably come out swinging. Oh, how I hope he does! If Ryan has a strong upper cut and hammers his message of responsible government spending, Biden may break his leash. Should that happen we’ll be in for a genuine thrill “in the ‘Ville” as Biden begins talking off the cuff. He’s already famous (or infamous) for a number of gaffes. In 2007, just after Obama announced his presidential candidacy, Biden called him “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate, and bright, and clean, and a nice-looking guy.” In January of this year he caught himself when he started to use a mock foreign accent while speaking about overseas calling centers while visiting New Hampshire. Perhaps he was recalling the heat for his previous comments about the ethnic makeup of Delaware, a state he served as senator from 1973 until he became vice president. In the summer of 2006 he described Delaware as a place in which “you cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin’ Doughnuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.” For emphasis he added, “I’m not joking.”
Never mind that Republicans have been run out of town on a rail for much less. Democrats get a pass on such things, at least as far as long-term consequences are concerned. Yes, they’ll be questioned, and yes, some eyebrows will go up. But the majority of the media will give the benefit of the doubt to any Democrat … after all, Democrats care more, right?
In short, tonight’s debate is all about meeting the real candidates. Some have been arguing lately that the Romney campaign is holding Ryan back from saying what he really thinks. If this is correct, then tonight is the night to set him free from those constraints. We constitutionalists want to hear the bold criticism that Paul Ryan can bring regarding the size, scope, and expense of government. Holding Ryan back only increases our concerns about Romney.
On the other hand, we also want to see Biden off his leash. Holding Biden back only hides his agenda and his racial biases.
I continue to predict a strong victory for Romney–perhaps even a landslide. One pollster has pulled his apparatus out of Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia because Obama can’t win in those states. We’re looking at a Romney victory of at least 310 electoral votes, or so I believe. Time will tell.
Until then, let’s unleash Ryan and Biden.