Biden was very good on a few occasions when he dropped the facts and figures and spoke from the depth of his experience as senior legislator and executive. You could tell immediately that he knew what he was talking about and that to him this was not theory, this was the bread and butter of getting things done. On those occasions he made Ryan seem hopelessly inexperienced in the ways of government, despite his years in the House.
Biden scored a deep cut on Ryan about the stimulus, when he cited from memory the congressman’s letter to him, personally, asking for stimulus funds for Wisconsin, after having attacked the plan in public and having voted to kill it. Joe was clearly having fun with that one, and I think Ryan looked sheepish and humiliated.
I wasn’t crazy about Ryan’s delivering a few talking points several times – a mistake President Obama committed the other night in his debate with Governor Romeny. When Ryan cited for the third time the line attributed to Obama, that “If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from,” it lost its effect on me.
I thought Biden won on points regarding pulling U.S. forces from Afghanistan in 2014, successfully delivering a sheer lie about those hundreds of thousands of U.S. trained Afghani soldiers taking over in all those regions where the Taliban are likely to move in. Ryan could easily challenge the VP on the quality of those Afghani units, especially since Biden himself suggested that if the “green on blue fire” – meaning Afghani soldiers shooting their American trainers – were to continue, the training sessions would be limited to within the bases. The fact is we are leaving Afghanistan defeated, much as the Russians and the British have done, and it will become a Taliban state soon after, and will offer a home for a renewed Al Qaeda. And we will have to carpet bomb them with drones, as we should have done instead of launching this trillion dollar, meaningless campaign.
Incumbent VPs tend to do a lot better than their challengers in these debates (In 2004, Dick Cheney decimated Senator John Edwards on his poor attendance record when he told him “I’m up in the Senate most Tuesdays, when they’re in session, but the first time I met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.”) and so the very fact that Congressman Ryan scored an unambiguous tie is a victory for the Romney campaign. On the other hand, Joe Biden’s assignment was to rescue the Obama campaign from the slope down which the president has dropped it with his terrible performance last week—and Joe definitely did his job well.
So, it’s a tie, all bets are off again, I have no idea who’s winning this thing, I take back everything I said about Obama wiping the floor with Romeny, it ain’t happening, and I suspect the next two debates, between the seniors on both tickets, will not be as uneven as the first one.
I hope you appreciate my getting up at 3 in the morning Netanya time to watch the debate, so you won’t have to. If you had to tear yourselves away from Game 4 of the Orioles-Yankees playoff series, Baltimore won 2-1 in the 13th inning, forcing a fifth game. Likewise, the Romney-Obama series is also tied, with two games remaining.
Here’s a thought: if a presidential debate ends in a draw, can it go to extra innings?