By Teresa Welsh |
Vice President Biden did exactly what Democrats wanted him to do in his debate with Paul Ryan. He showed his party that the Obama-Biden team would not lie down and get steamrolled by the mendacity and obfuscation the Romney-Ryan squad was trying to sell to the American public in the last weeks of the presidential contest. Biden summed up the Democratic feeling about the misleading Republican talking points early when he called one of Ryan's responses "malarkey."
Both Romney and Ryan have been hiding the ball when it comes to the details of their plans if elected. On taxes, the Republican nominees are happy to specifically name keeping the Bush tax cuts and bringing down tax rates, but won't tell America which tax loopholes they wants to close. When pressed, the sum of Romney and Ryan's answer is that they don't want to talk specifics because that will only create targets for Democrats to attack. Shouldn't the political fight over their agenda happen before the voters make their choice in November?
That's not where the intellectual double dealing stops. Ryan attacked the president over the stimulus but had to admit he had advocated for stimulus dollars to be spent in his Wisconsin congressional district. On foreign policy he implied there should be more U.S. troops involved in the dangerous eastern provinces of Afghanistan instead of turning operations over to the Afghans, but backed away when pressed by Biden for a specific policy. It went on like this on issues from Syria to abortion with Joe Biden playing the wise old hand correcting the record and asserting his involvement in everything from the Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neil tax reforms from the 1980s to Joint Chiefs of Staff current recommendations to the president in the Oval Office.
Biden laughed and gesticulated for the entire 90 minutes, giving physical punctuation to the verbal volley viewers witnessed on television. At times there was a little too much English on Biden's big Irish smile and it verged on inauthentic, but ultimately it was clear the vice president would not sit by and let Ryan mislead viewers. The result is Democrats are enthusiastic again and the media have something else to talk about, stemming the tide of bad reports after President Obama's Mile High Mistake at the first presidential debate in Denver.
About Jamal Simmons Principal at The Raben Group
Brad Bannon President of Bannon Communications Research
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College