Friday, October 12, 2012

The Vice-Presidential Debate

Not that the vice-presidential debate matters a whole lot, but I thought Biden won by a nose.   

The problems for Paul Ryan: (1) He was oversold as a bright young financial whiz who would thrash Biden on economic matters. He is bright, but not that bright. (2) He had a tough hand to play. It’s easy to sell the notion that we can solve our economic problems by simply taxing the rich, that no one else has to worry, not the old, the sick, your grandmother, veterans, college students, etc.  Few voters want to hear someone try to sell castor oil. (3) Despite smiling (some would say snickering) too much, Biden was the more aggressive debater, seizing every chance to filibuster.  (4) The first 20 minutes of the debate was given to foreign policy, which played into Biden’s strength.  No matter how he tried to wiggle, Ryan sounded as if he wanted war with Iran, the sooner the better.  At 9:23 PM, the moderator switched the topic to the economy, which is presumably Paul Ryan’s strong suit.  But in a segment that ostensibly was on the economy, the subject somehow quickly returned to foreign policy:  Afghanistan, Syria, and back to Iran.  Again Paul Ryan showed the hawkish side of the Republican’s plea for a “more robust” foreign policy, attacking the very idea of apologizing for anything, even things that seem to demand a presidential apology.  It doesn’t seem to occur to some people that an apology can be seen as a sign of moral strength.

The final few minutes of the debate were spent on the candidates’ Catholicism, specifically on their positions on abortion. This segment was a draw. That is, no minds were changed. People who were pro-life are still pro-life; those who were pro-choice are still pro-choice.

It is safe to say that few if any votes were won or lost by last night’s debate. If you chose to watch the Yankees – Orioles baseball game, you didn’t miss anything important.