I have never been fond of the practice of deciding the winner or loser of a political debate. Even after last week’s Obama Meltdown, I didn’t declare Romney the winner. The reason for this has to do with the complicated nature of the debate itself. Viewers can never be entirely sure about the agenda and goals of the debaters, thus they can’t know if the debaters really achieved their goals.
There were some commentators last week who proposed that Barack Obama intentionally performed as he did in the first presidential debate in order to garner sympathy from voters. I don’t put any stock in that theory–it’s just pro-Obama cover. But the idea itself demonstrates the nature of the beast.
It’s apparent to me that VP Joe Biden had his marching orders, and that he was a faithful soldier in the effort to return Barack Obama to the White House for four more years. As I predicted yesterday, he came out swinging. And he kept on swinging even when it wasn’t his turn. He sighed. He exhaled in an audible way. He murmurmed and complained. He shook his head. He played up the drama and interrupted without end. He sneered. He laughed. He was overbearing and condescending. And all the while there was that obnoxious smile, apparently borrowed from the Cheshire Cat of Wonderland.
Some are saying that Biden did the same thing to Ryan that Romney did to Obama. No way. There is a qualitative difference in the mannerisms of the two. Romney was in control. He was dignified. Biden was just … can I say it? He was just creepy.
I’ll give one thing to Smokin’ Joe Biden. He has a stage presence and a sure-footed dance step that could baffle anyone. At times he seemed to be getting the upper hand on Ryan, who doesn’t have the experience Biden has in front of national crowds. But then the buffoon emerged; the clown returned. As Biden performed his antics I had the same puzzled feeling I get anytime a van of clowns drives into a circus tent: the real show is paused while the big cat prepares for the next segment.
All in all, Joe was making up for the failures of his boss from last week. He didn’t do it very well.
For me, one of the most powerful moments of the evening came as Ryan reminded the audience of the hometown roots of each of them. Ryan is from Janesville, Wisconsin. Biden hails from Scranton, Pennsylvania. “You know what the unemployment rate in Scranton is today?” Ryan asked. “I sure do,” stated Biden, seeming oblivious to the importance of the question. “It’s 10%. You know what it was the day you guys came in? 8.5%. That’s how it’s going all around America.”
The official jobs numbers from DC say things are getting better, but working America knows the truth. The only way you can fudge the employment numbers to show improvement these days is by not counting those who have stopped looking for work. Joe’s hometown is an example of what the Obama-Biden administration has done–and continues to do–to American prosperity.
The political pundits will be bombarding us with analysis all day. I won’t recap all the great moments of the debate. I will, however, remark about the final segments, those dealing with the question of character and and giving the candidates a closing remark. I believe the comments at this point of the debate tell us who these men are at their very core. They should also remind us how important our vote is next month.
When pushed to define his character, Paul Ryan spoke of honesty. Joe Biden spoke of his record. There was a time when Obama and Biden spoke of honesty, but they have failed to live it. And there is little in the Obama-Biden record that has been of use to the nation.
In his closing remarks, Biden once again blamed the previous administration. We inherited “God-awful circumstances,” he said. Supposedly he and Obama want four more years to fix those problematic circumstances. The problem is that no matter how bad things get, the road to recovery by now should be showing some signs of betterment if we’re doing the right things. But we’re not. We’re living on a credit card whose credit limit may eventually bring even more suffering than we’ve seen yet. And that part doesn’t change just because the occupant of the White House changes.
In his final remarks, Ryan said that he and Mitt Romney “won’t duck responsibility or blame others.” I, for one, want to give Romney and Ryan the opportunity to prove it.
Did Ryan take a thumping from Biden? I suppose so, at least in the early segments of the debate. It was the same kind of thumping a bully gives to the bright kid in class who doesn’t know yet how to handle himself on the playground. But it became clear last night that the bright kid learns quickly.
Who won? I like to think the winners were the American people, waking up from the nightmare of a failed presidency.