This evening, vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) took on Vice President Joe Biden in a wide-ranging debate covering everything from Libya and Iran to the economy. Biden’s demeanor was the story of the evening: smirking, laughing, snorting, shaking his head. The strategy seems to have been to laugh off America’s problems, since the Obama administration has done nothing to solve them.
The debate itself was secondary to the demeanor of Biden. Biden had nothing to run on, so he decided to distract. And those pearly whites were a bizarre distraction from what could have been a substantive debate.
Biden interrupted Ryan repeatedly. He would not allow Ryan to finish an answer; where he stopped interrupting for even a few moments.
This was the big problem for Biden going in: the American people didn’t like him. His favorables were far lower than Ryan’s. This debate did him no favors. And if the vice presidential debate was any indicator of the new, aggressive strategy of the Obama/Biden ticket, it will be off-putting to Americans in a dramatic way. It appears blustery and unlikeable – and most of all, dramatically angry and unserious.
Biden did it because Obama was somnambulant during the first debate. So Biden came out swinging. And more than anything else, he came out like an enormous bully, determined not to let Ryan get in a word edgewise.
Martha Raddatz, the moderator, did nothing to stop Joe Biden from repeatedly interrupting a very polite Paul Ryan, forcing Ryan to exclaim that the American public might prefer for each to speak in turn; her questions were significantly tougher for Ryan than they were for Biden, and she even allowed Biden to jump in to supplement questions. The time imbalance was substantially in Biden’s favor.
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