Friday, October 12, 2012

Why So Serious?

Did Joe Biden remind anyone else of The Joker during the debate tonight? From a politico/image perspective, I'm sure the campaign told him to just smile and laugh away all of Ryan's statements. "It'll undermine him," they said. "It'll be the image that people take away from his words."

Well, that might have worked during the first 10 minutes, but after 90 minutes of the smile--I'm sorry, about 70 minutes, the other 20 showed him as menacing and angry looking--it was just disturbing.

Why are you the only person smiling in the room, Joe? Please, let us in on the joke.

                               Courtesy The Washington Post

I think Joe did what the campaign needed him to do. They needed him to come out and look aggressive against the young guy. Or, as Paul Ryan so perfectly put it, "Mr. Vice President, I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other."

But what ended up happening was Biden delivering one of the least civil debate performances I've ever seen.

What started out as a strong performance quickly lost the facade of competence and gave way to the condescending face of frustration. Biden seemed to unravel during the Afghanistan conversation; he even went after the moderator--a definite no-no when you're trying to look like the one in control.

MS. RADDATZ: Let me go back to the surge troops that we put in there. And you brought this up, Congressman Ryan. I have talked to a lot of troops. I've talked to senior officers who were concerned that the surge troops were pulled out during the fighting season, and some of them saw that as a political — as a political move. So can you tell me, Vice President Biden, what was the military reason for bringing those surge troops home before the fighting season ended?

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: The military reason was bringing — by the way, when the president announced the surge — you'll remember, Martha — he said, the surge will be out by the end of the summer. The military said, the surge will be out. Nothing political about this. Before the surge occurred — so you be a little straight with me here, too — before the surge occurred, we said, they'll be out by the end of the summer. That's what the military said. The reason for that is —

MS. RADDATZ: Military follows orders. They — I mean, there — trust me, there are people —


MS. RADDATZ: — who were concerned about pulling out on the fighting season.

"So you be a little straight with me here, too." He said, pointing at the female moderator. Um, no.

                                                  Courtesy FOX News

Martha Raddatz did a good job, asking hard questions of both men and keeping Joe in check. And I can't help but think that she didn't appreciate having Joe's strobe-light teeth bared at her during that exchange--because she didn't just take it. She came back and didn't let him off the hook.

Ryan, on the other hand, came across as cool and calm. Could he have been a little more engaging? I think so.

One of the greatest unsaid lines was a slap back against Joe talking about Romney-Ryan needing to take responsibility. It would have been a great chance to say, "Really, Joe? How about you and Barack Obama taking responsibility for the last four years instead of blaming the last administration? How about taking responsibility for a failed foreign policy, a failed economic policy, and a failed healthcare policy? Who's been in charge for the last four years, Joe?"

But he didn't lose anything for the ticket, and he was able to keep a handle on things despite Biden's baiting. Ryan was especially strong on Afghanistan and domestic policy--and Joe wasn't smiling so much during those segments.

I don't think either man changed many minds tonight. But I do think that Biden gave us all a glimpse at the frustration and desperation within the Obama campaign to keep control of this election.

No comments:

Post a Comment