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Rob Eno: The American People Won the VP Debate

Friday, October 12, 2012

 

Last night’s Vice Presidential Debate is over and the winner is…. The American People. They won because, unlike the first Presidential debate, both candidates decided to shop up and engage. Coming in a close second, however, was Paul Ryan, whose focus on issues, won the day. Joe Biden and Ryan actually seemed to like each other, but Biden lost the debate by cackling through most of it.

Starting with the first question, on the tragedy at the Benghazi compound, and throughout the debate, Joe Biden’s behavior while Ryan gave his answers bordered on the bizarre. He seemed pre-programmed to laugh off anything and everything Ryan said. While I’m not exactly a neutral observer, I’m pretty sure that is not the way to win the hearts and minds of the American People.

When we start to take a look at the substance of the debate, Ryan won there as well. It’s just not easy to defend the failures of the current administration. The vice president, to his credit, did give it a valiant – albeit flat- effort throughout the evening however.

The first question, to the moderator’s credit, dealt with the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, and the current administration’s response to it. It has become indisputable fact that the administration lied about the nature of the attack on our consulate in Libya, and covered it up for close to a month. However, Joe Biden, tried his best to defend the administration’s handling of the situation, even repeating demonstrably false lies. His only defense to Paul Ryan’s facts on this issue was to begin an evening of cackling and laughing, in a effort to diminish anything Ryan said. This effort backfired on the Vice President, over and over again all evening.

Whether it was foreign policy or jobs and the economy, Biden relied on his crutch, an uneasy cackle every time Ryan landed a bit of truth. What was designed as a defense against facts, ended up being a long term distraction throughout the evening, threatening to turn the night into a train-wreck. Although in an odd way it didn’t quite get to that point, as I was struck by a genuine affinity these two Irishmen had for each other.

On substance and facts Ryan carried the day, although his answers bordered on the wonkiness I like, but can quickly turn off a national audience. His articulation of the Romney-Ryan plan to reinvigorate our economy by unleashing the power of the private sector was a winner. However, he did seem to get lost in the weeds on a number of occasions while demonstrating his points. Biden’s homespun, yet baseless, rejoinders may have won some points with those less informed.

Overall, while the American Public won, the debate worked for both campaigns in that it was a draw. Biden didn’t do damage, which given his penchant is a win for team Obama, and Ryan didn’t deliver a knockout blow either. Based on Mitt Romney’s performance last week, however, his campaign is still going forward with the full sails of momentum.

In doing no harm, Joe Biden has put the onus directly back on the President. The next debate looks to prove pivotal. If Obama can put Romney on his heels, he may yet win another term. Given the state of the economy, and Barack Obama’s record that is a slim possibility.

The main takeaway from last night for this observer is… I’d really like to see more interaction from Ryan and Biden. The country might actually be better for it. As far as the election goes, this debate was a tie, and based on last week’s debate. A tie goes to team Romney.
 

 

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