Thursday, October 11, 2012

Biden-Ryan Debate

Although I posted on another (very self-absorbed) topic yesterday, I thought I'd give myself 15 minutes today to touch on the debate tonight. Last week, before the presidential debate, I blathered on not only about what a waste of time it was, but also about why we need a third party. It seemed about half an hour into the debate me and pretty much everyone else was slapped in the face with what a big deal it might actually be, and, in fact, in polls today for the first time Romney is showing not only that he might be catching up, but in some, surpassing. We will see, of course, if that means anything more than a bump. As I wrote afterwards, I don't think Obama was so bad, just himself, and Romney was so good, plus, but it still all comes down to the swing states. At last look, not only was Obama well ahead in Ohio, but, early voting was overwhelmingly in his favor. And, without Ohio . . . .

But, Biden-Ryan. We've heard all the analysis about this so far. Mostly it is that Joe Biden is a crazy old coot and Paul Ryan a nerd. Biden has been coached and coached, but no one is sure if it will take. Me either. The hope for a great debate is that he says something wild. Then again, he made a few blunders against Palin, and most of the media seemed not to notice (naturally, Fox did).

We are also seeing the video of Ryan taking the President to school during the health care debate at the Blair House a couple of years ago. He is very eloquent, if exceedingly wonkish. He is quite capable of explaining difficult subjects, but, how good will he be in little 2 minute bites, it is hard to say. Debating, or what we have that we call debates, is decidedly different than making a speech, as everyone noticed recently with Obama. But, Ryan should not expect to run over Biden the way Romney ran over Obama. For one thing, he may be too young to carry it off without looking brattish. I personally don't think he is as charming as some others seem to think. On the other hand, he is perfectly pleasant and seems fairly unflappable. But, Biden is not Obama and won't sit still for it either. He is perfectly capable of just talking over Ryan and even whining that it isn't fair (I've seen him do that in the Senate). Plus, the host will not permit it this time, as Lehrer took so much criticism for it last week.

Hard to say what the questions will be, of course, as it is one debate and they don't tell you in advance even the general topics. I'm kind of hoping Libya comes up, because it will be interesting. Biden actually does know about foreign policy. He is not an idiot, whatever you may think from the media. He makes mistakes, yes, but more from wishful thinking and telling the truth. He is one of the few who agreed with me that Iraq should have been divided up into 3 regions from the get go.  And, have you noticed that many times what is being called a gaffe with him is actually saying what the administration didn't want him to - like when he said that the middle class had been brutalized the past four years or that there was only a 30% chance of the stimulus package working?

I don't mind going out on a limb with these things, and I'm going to hazard a guess that it is probably going to be (though I predicted this incorrectly last week it was a history making event as post debate polls showed no one had ever won so decisively before) one of those debates where both sides claim victory. Both sides are trying to raise expectations for the other side and lower them for themselves. In the end, I expect I will end up agreeing more with Ryan, because, despite his conservative credentials, I don't really think of him that way except when it comes to the economy. 

Despite the self-imposed beating I took last week on my assertion that debates are a waste of time, I still think so. Vice presidential debates are probably doubly irrelevant. I still remember Dan Quayle giving a painfully long, drawn out, mish mosh of an answer to a question, and also get his head handed to him by Lloyd Bensen, and you know what - didn't make a hill of beans.

I will be happy if Ryan wins, as that is my bias, but unlike real pundits (I just play one on the internet) or spin doctors I never mind saying if my guy does badly, as with John McCain. Let you know tomorrow or shortly thereafter how this one came out.

My 15 minutes are up and I'm not even famous.


  1. I'll comment on what I've seen rather than make a new post. First, I thought in 2008, though he had no real chance, that Biden would be a better president than Obama and I still think so. I wrote above that he was not an idiot and he did know about foreign policy. And, foreign policy was a strength here for him here. If I had to pick a winner, it might be Biden by force of personality, but it is slight. He did well on the Afghan War, in particular, and I'm not saying that because I'm agreeing with him. He might have stumbled a bit on Libya, but not sure. His manner of addressing the audience directly worked. But, both came off eloquent, quick thinking, relatively pleasant in a difficult situation, and, above all, seemingly more knowledgeable than their principals, Biden more so than Ryan. We will probably hear a bit about who said things that were untrue or not. That has proved so far not to matter much and I don't think it will here. I was a little surprised by the religion/abortion question. I really don't want to hear the religion informs my politics speech again. But, this is the host's fault in posing a non-policy question that called for something not very concrete. Ryan may have surprised some with his own foreign policy knowledge and he had much more of a chance at the end due to the questions and Biden was right to complain about it. He didn't whine either. But, his summation was more relaxed, personal and seemingly sincere. His -that's my mom, that's my neighbors bit may have worked for some. On the other hand Ryan seemed a little more wooden to me. In fairness, Biden has done this more.

    Anyway, my opinion about debates that they don't matter is more born out by this one than the last. As is my opinion that both sides will claim victory. I've taken a look at Fox's and MSNBC's wrap up, and they are both spinning like crazy.

  2. Good googly moogly, a blog about a debate that hasn't even happened yet, and then a comment in response to YOUR OWN BLOG about the results!!??!! Alice, give this man an enema as he seems to have forgotten he has an asshole.

  3. What's wrong with commenting on my own blog? I do it all the time. It's not like someone else wrote it about me and I commented on it. I could have done a new post, but what would the difference be? You have more strange hang ups about my blogging than I can shake a stick at. But, because you are the most faithful (and long suffering) reader, I allow you the rare vulgarity in your comment. I'm sure it is the reason I don't have millions of readers. I didn't even understand what it meant, by the way, but, maybe it's me. Peace.


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .