By Arman Gosparini
When Congressman Paul Ryan was selected to be Mitt Romney’s vice presidential candidate, Republicans everywhere collectively salivated over the notion of a vice presidential debate between a young, intelligent Republican legislator known for his bold policy crafting and mastery of information and Vice President Joe Biden, who is known for his impassioned, yet earnest, ramblings and numerous, but always amusing, gaffes. It was to be the perfect storm: the quiet policy wonk versus the loud podium thumper.
Joe Biden yelled a lot.
It would be naïve not to expect the usual theatrics from the vice president. After all, it was a little less than two months back that the he took fire from Republicans, when he announced at a rally in Virginia that Mitt Romney would “put you all back in chains.” However, compared to Biden’s debate performance, the gaffe in August might seem mild and tempered. The vice president bickered while Paul Ryan debated.
Throughout the 90 minute long ordeal Joe Biden smirked, laughed, scoffed, yelled and interrupted on numerous occasions as Ryan patiently attempted to make his best case to the American people. On the radio, Biden sounded aggressive and forceful while Ryan came off as bland, but it was only when audio was matched with video that the whole picture comes to light. Joe Biden was rude and condescending, not just to Congressman Ryan but also to moderator Martha Raddatz, who he talked down to as well.
One might imagine that the vice president felt obligated to climb into the debate ring swinging after the undeniable shellacking President Obama took at the hands of Romney in last week’s debate. According to a CBS news poll, 46 percent of undecided voters said that Romney performed better at the debate while only 22 percent said that Obama won the debate. It is entirely possible that Biden felt he needed to be particularly fierce in order to make up for the president’s abysmal failure, but in doing so he only managed to come off as a crazy, angry, old jerk.
Not to mention the bald-faced lies. When discussing the gross lack of security during the brutal attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi one month before, Biden stated, “We weren’t told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security.” However, according to CNN, the regional security officer in Libya, Eric Nordstrom, testified that he had verbally requested more security. In addition to that fib, Biden attacked Ryan for voting to “put two wars on a credit card,” while claiming that he voted against the Iraq and Afghanistan War. Biden, however, voted for both wars while serving in the senate.
If there were a criticism against Ryan it would be that he failed to effectively translate himself to the American people. As a policy wonk who drafts budget proposals, Paul Ryan is more of a meticulous legal technician rather than a savvy political marketer, reading through hundreds of pages of bills while carefully strategizing how best to go forward. A technician may very well be what this nation needs; however, it is difficult to explain complex policy decisions in a debate context, especially while being constantly interrupted by childish scoffing from an ill-mannered opponent.
As shallow as it may be, America lives in the age of sound bites. Nobody has to like it, but it simply is what it is. Ryan had a difficult time cutting complex policies into digestible pieces, and that is part of the reason why he spent a considerable amount of the debate on the defensive.
A CBS poll placed Biden as a winner at 50 percent with Ryan at 31 percent. However, a CNBC poll of uncommitted voters showed Ryan as the victor with 56 percent to Biden’s 36 percent and CNN placed Ryan ahead of Biden 4 points at 48 percent, within the margin of error.
Whatever point Biden intended to make was undermined by his impolite behavior. While it may be exactly what hardcore liberal supporters of Obama wanted to hear, the point of the debates is not to rally the base. The bases of both parties have already made their decisions. Instead, the debates are an opportunity to convince undecided voters — the only voters who mean anything at this point — who is the right candidate for the job. Ryan did a much more effective job of outlining the Romney Campaign’s plan, however vague critics argue it is.
Ultimately this is indicative of a campaign constantly fighting to steer scrutiny away from an appalling, scandal infested record with far too few victories and many more defeats. The vice president resorts to this infantile display because in the end that is the best he can do when faced with the overwhelming failure of the Obama Administration.
— Arman is a junior, writer, pre-CTVA major, and enigmatic James Bond villain operating out of a secret base in an active volcano.