Vice president Joe Biden showed last night that he is not qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. There was no dignity, circumspection, courtesy, civility or presidentiality in his performance in the debate with the GOP contender, Congressman Paul Ryan
Biden came across as a windbag and a demagogue with his constant interruptions and his phony and appropriate laughter and his grimace of a smile framed his bombast and looked like a schoolboy making faces at a rival. He had the manners and affect of a longshoreman at a union hall or a brawler in a bar.
How can voters — especially women — look at that performance and not cringe in embarrassment?
In his caricature of a politician, Biden made clear how much the Obama administration survives on a combination of negative attacks and the rawest kind of demagogic appeal. He reduced his arguments for taxing the rich to thuggary and was so obviously pandering to populism as to be disgusting to all but the most committed Occupiers.
In a Manichean world of good and evil, he was the ugly.
Ryan was disappointing. He seemed overawed, and often overrun, by Biden’s antics. He should have been more forceful in denouncing the administration’s actions in Libya. He ought to have challenged the vice president’s assertion that the administration was “following the best intelligence we had,” by noting that the State Department said it never believed that the attack was anything other than 9/11 anniversary terrorism. He would have been accurate to have labeled the claims of Hillary Clinton and Presdient Obama, that the attack was related to the anti-Muslim video, as a cover up to stop terrorism from becoming a negative issue in November.
Nor did he do well in attacking Obama-Biden on Iran. He kept repeating two talking points: (a) that they had failed to change the Ayatollah’s mind on developing nuclear weapons; and (b) that the sanctions were passed over Obama’s objections. OK. But how about hitting them on not supporting the pro-democracy demonstrators in Teheran? What about Gen. Martin Dempsey’s comments criticizing Israel for contemplating an attack on Iran? Why didn’t Ryan just say that he would support Israel if it attacked Iran and Obama won’t?
Ryan did better on economic policy and was excellent on Medicare and Social Security.
But this debate will not be judged on the issues or the points and counterpoints. It will be seen as the final surrender of our governing process and its debates to the MSNBC cross-talking talk shows. It was Crossfire meets the presidential debates.
Biden needs to grow up before he grows older. You cannot look good if you are acting like a little boy smirking in school.
Will this debate hurt Obama? Help Romney? We don’t know. But we do know one thing: It destroyed Biden.