Finally, a direct and passionate response to Republican obfuscation, misdirection and lies. Vice President Joseph Biden told Republican VP nominee Paul Ryan to his face to “stop talking” about how much he andcare about people, and “show me” and the country your concern. And, the best way to show rather than tell, said Biden, is for Republicans to “get out of the way” of passage of the president’s proposed jobs bill, and other measures languishing in the "do-nothing" congress -- bills specifically designed to put people to work immediately, especially on rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
The physical -- visual -- contrast alone between the two men was striking, rendering the vice president into an actual, if wizened, éminence grise as opposed to a young, rash and inexperienced upstart, Rep. Ryan. (Ryan had an unmistakable air, look and presence about him, which conjured up a simplistic and disturbing image: "Dennis the menace"). Biden repeatedly referred to the fact that “I was there” and “in the room” when President Reagan and Rep. “Tip” O’Neill negotiated reforms to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Likewise, on foreign policy and defense, again the vice president spoke from the position of an “insider.” At one point, he even said that his remarks and responses had to be limited due to the “classified” nature of current activities -- especially with regard to Iran’s supposed attempts to attain nuclear weapons.
Ryan repeated all of the right wing’s media-driven talking points on Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Pakistan. He made no new, or even different, policy proposals in or for the Middle East except to “send more troops” rather than withdraw those already there. He opposed any and all cuts to the military budget despite the military’s own insistence that it does not need or want more funding for superfluous weapons systems and programs.
As to the “moderator,” Martha Raddatz, her bias toward Ryan was obvious, gross, and egregious. Without actually timing the responses, I think it’s safe to say that Ryan received at least twice as much time to talk as the vice president. Biden demonstrated some “exasperated interjections” and interruptions. Raddatz’s question about the how the personal Catholicism of both candidates would or would not inform their policy decisions was clearly out of place, unnecessary, and a waste of time. Biden re-directed the question to their differences on abortion and “women’s issues” generally.
Biden managed to get Romney’s “47 percent” solution into the discourse a number of times; and even referenced Ryan’s own “30 percent” gaffe of last week. Ryan did not refer to either number, but simply “objected” or “denied” the factual basis for Biden’s remarks. And that was the difference. Biden was factual, detailed and persistent. He presented a contrast between not just himself and Rep. Ryan, but between two competing worldviews. This was really not much of a debate in my view. More like a lecture between a teacher and student, or a counseling session between a man and a boy.
The real contrast, of course, was between the president's failure in last week's debate with Mitt Romney and tonight's undisputed victory for Biden over Ryan. Biden essentially cleaned up the president's mess. He hit all of the checkpoints that the president did not mention, except for Romney's outsourcing of jobs. He was especially effective in deconstructing Ryan-Romney's plan to destroy social security.
Here's hoping the president gets the message. Hopefully President Obama has learned by now that he cannot fight these guys with the marquis de queensberry rules of fisticuffs. Unfortunately, but realistically, one has got to descend to their level and fight fire with fire. If not, they will cheat, lie, steal -- do whatever they deem necessary to win, whether legal, illegal, or borderline. For Republicans and conservatives generally, the ends always justify the means.
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