There are many words one could use to describe Joe Biden’s performance in last night’s vice presidential debate. ‘Presidential’ is not one of them.
Obviously overcompensating for President Obama’s weak and and unengaged debacle in Denver last week, Biden came out with an aggressive and arrogant style that quickly became the story of the night. Biden basically had two strategies every time Paul Ryan opened his mouth: 1) interrupt and call him a liar; or 2) laugh maniacally. Liberals loved it. Biden said and did everything the left wanted Obama to say and do last week but didn’t: He brought up Mitt Romney’s 47 percent line, he brought up Romney’s tax returns, and he attacked Romney on Social Security.
But how did non-partisans feel about Biden’s performance? Not so great. According to a CNN poll taken after the debate, “seven in ten said Biden was seen as spending more time attacking his opponent.” Overall, 48 percent said Ryan won the debate compared to 44 percent for Biden. More importantly, 28 percent said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney while just 21 percent said they were more likely to vote for Obama.
And some of Biden’s more arrogant answers could cost Obama down the road. About the September 11th attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Biden said, “We weren’t told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there.” This is objectively false. On Wednesday of this week, two security officials who worked for the State Department in Libya testified under oath to Congress that they repeatedly requested more security and two Obama State Department officials admitted they had denied those requests. Biden also tried to blame the intelligence community for the White House’s evasions on the cause of the attack, and the false storyline that it had something to do with a YouTube video. In fact, the White House knew it was al Qaeda and had a short list of suspects within 24 hours of the attack.
Obama’s base may let these things slide, but the American people mat not appreciate being lied to on such serious topics.
Michael Barone: “Joe Biden appealed to Democratic partisans, firing them up by attacking and, even more often, smirking at Paul Ryan’s arguments. But smirks only work when your audience starts off agreeing with you.”
Tim Carney: “There’s no doubt Obama is comfortable being condescending (think “You’re likable enough, Hillary”). But a running mate has the leeway to be an attack dog in a way that a presidential candidate doesn’t.”
Phil Klein: “[Biden] clearly fed the liberal blood lust and likely provided a boost to the morale of the Democratic base that has been starting to panic after Romney’s dominant debate performance and gains in polls.”
The Washington Post: In VP debate, Biden seeks to repair damage from Obama’s stumble
Boston Globe: Paul Ryan shows he is no pushover in debate
The Des Moines Register: Biden’s attitude factor
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: A chasm in style, substance
National Review‘s Rich Lowry: “I found Biden’s conduct appalling. A high-school sophomore who did that in debate class would get dismissed.”
The Weekly Standard‘s Bill Kristol: “Joe Biden was aggressive, condescending, and shamelessly demagogic. Paul Ryan was earnest, youthful, and perhaps a bit over-scripted.”
Red State‘s Dan McLaughlin: “Joe Biden came in with one game plan: don’t let voters hear a word Paul Ryan said. On the rare occasions Ryan spoke without being interrupted, Biden laughed, snorted, grinned (even when discussing serious subjects like war and abortion), or at a minimum immediately declared that everything Ryan said was a lie.”
The Wall Street Journal: “So now we know what Team Obama’s comeback plan was following last week’s defeat in the Presidential debate. Unleash Joe Biden to interrupt, filibuster, snarl, smirk and otherwise show contempt for Paul Ryan. The carnival act contributed to the least illuminating presidential or vice presidential debate of our lifetimes.”
Talking Points Memo‘s Josh Marshall: “I’d call the first exchange on foreign policy basically a draw. Biden was on uncomfortable terrain on the Libya story. On each successive encounter, Biden was on the offensive and owned the conversation. I don’t think it was close.”
Mother Jones‘ Kevin Drum: “I thought Paul Ryan was unusually brazen in his defense of the Republican insistence on extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Biden made the reasonable point that you could easily vote separately on extending the cuts for the middle class and extending the cuts for the rich.”
The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent: “From the opening — “Malarkey!” — onward, especially in the first half, the vice president maintained a contemptuous attitude toward “his friend” Ryan.”
Polls: A new Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/Miami Herald shows Romney beating Obama 51 percent to 44 percent in Florida.
In Other News
The Wall Street Journal, Sluggish Growth Seen Into Next Year: The unemployment rate registered a dramatic 0.5 percentage-point drop over the past two months, but economists in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey don’t expect that pace of decline to continue.
The Wall Street Journal, Paychecks Losing Ground: Americans’ paychecks have lost ground in the recovery, one reason why consumption and consumer confidence are weak. Average hourly earnings were $19.80 in August, adjusted for inflation, the same as August 2011 and down slightly from the beginning of 2009. With unemployment falling but still high, employers can fill many jobs without raising salaries.
The Washington Post, Turkey says Syrian jet carried Russian arms, drawing Moscow deeper into crisis: Turkey claimed Thursday that it had found Russian munitions aboard a Syrian passenger jet forced to land in its capital, Ankara, drawing Moscow into the spiraling Syrian-Turkish tensions that are threatening to erupt into regional war.