Thoughts on the 2012 Vice-Presidential Debate
And, it would appear, that’s the general consensus. He was feisty, forceful, and clear, showing the sort of experience and determination that one has come to expect from him but that was all the more stark with an extremist neophyte sitting next to him as his challenger.
Particularly on foreign policy, he was strong and wise, contrasting Ryan’s combination of vagueness and propagandizing. Ryan kept insisting on these differences yet admitted that on the key issues there is no disagreement with what Obama is doing, whether it’s Iran or Syria or Afghanistan, and Biden effectively pointed that out. And where Ryan did disagree, he revealed his abject ignorance, as with respect to the handover of responsibility to Afghan troops.
And on domestic policy as well, it was refreshing to see Biden pushing back against Ryan’s right-wing ideology wrapped up in a package with a nice little bow, noting repeatedly that the facts say otherwise and the numbers don’t add up. And when Ryan was lying, it was similarly refreshing to see Biden say enough is enough.
I’d say Biden’s one weakness was his closing statement, where he should have spoken into the camera and directly addressed Ryan’s accusation that Obama hasn’t done anything. Saving GM? Ordering the mission that killed Osama bin Laden? Providing access to affordable health care to tens of millions of Americans? How about that?
But a lot of the post-debate talk is about style, about mannerisms, and specifically about Biden’s laughing. That worried me early on. But in the end I think he was able to show just how relentlessly Ryan was a) lying and/or b) expressing far-right positions. There were times when it looked like the smiles could turn into smirks, but he held himself back. And, really, the fact that Republicans are focusing on Biden’s smiling and laughing as somehow inappropriate is all the evidence we need that Biden won, and won decisively.