Friday, October 12, 2012

Smug, Supercilious Joe Biden ...


Smug, supercilious Joe Biden dominated last night’s candidate debate.

Biden came to rumble; he came to bully; he came to intimidate Paul Ryan into submission.

Apparently, the Obama election campaign decided that since Obama had done a Casper Milquetoast impersonation at his first debate, Biden had to compensate.

Biden’s job was to show the world that the Democratic Party was the party of real men, or a reasonable facsimile of same.

Unfortunately, dominating is not the same as winning. Whatever the strength of his arguments Biden came across to all but the most diehard Democrats as insufferably boorish.

He did not look like an alpha male. He looked like a cheap imitation. He looked like what men look like when they buy into the nonsense about the end of men. In the end he will make Mitt Romney look like more of an alpha male.

Biden overcompensated. Hostile and aggressive, he tried to shut down discussion by the force of his attention-grabbing personality.

If there had been any substance to his arguments, it was drowned in his persona.

I suspect that Frank Bruni is not a Romney supporter. Thus, his excellent description  of Biden gains a special credibility:

Seldom has a split screen yielded such vigorous facial calisthenics. When Ryan talked, Biden didn’t just listen. He smiled with disbelief. He smiled even wider with derision. He whipped his head this way and that, laughing scornfully, glancing heavenward in exasperation. This was listening as an aerobic exercise, muscle-taxing and calorie-burning, and the message that he conveyed with it was clear: this widow-peaked pipsqueak to my side has a lot of nerve, a lot to learn and no place at the same table where I’m sitting.

Bruni concludes that Biden overplayed his hand. He ended up sounding like a buffoon, turning off more voters than he turned on.

Richard Miniter astutely suggested that Biden might just have driven single women into the Romney camp:

Swing voters are more than half female and more likely to be single or divorced than married. Did Biden remind those voters of their ex-husbands: not listening, not respectful, interrupting and always having to have the last word? If that's what those voters thought, then Biden just hurt the Obama re-election effort. Biden lost.

If Ryan won, it was by playing rope-a-dope, allowing Biden opponent to punch himself into exhaustion, and then honing in for the knockout.

The analogy would be more cogent if  Ryan delivered a knock-out blow at the end of the debate. I suspect that he did not.

The Wall Street Journal seems to have been thinking along these lines:

Mr. Ryan let the bully get away with too much for our tastes, at least until he finally pushed back on the interruptions or until Mr. Biden lost steam in the last half hour. But as anyone who's been in a tavern past midnight understands, it's hard to win a fight with a guy who is shouting from the corner bar stool.

Winning by default is not quite the same thing as winning. Allowing your opponent to steamroller you with the force of his personality does not make you look like a strong leader.

It’s not the first time that a candidate has tried to bully another candidate. Al Gore tried it and George Bush dismissed him with a nod of his head. Joe Biden tried it with Sarah Palin and failed.

If Power Line blogger John Hinderaker is right, Paul Ryan did not do his future any favors last night. He was too much the choir boy, not enough the commanding leader.

In Hinderaker’s words:

I thought Paul Ryan’s performance was highly disappointing. He came across as weak and submissive. There were many opportunities for him to turn to Biden and say, “Joe: shut up! It’s my turn.” But he never did it. I can’t imagine why. Maybe Ryan and his advisers thought Biden would come off poorly because he was such a jerk, but this strikes me as a poor strategy. No one votes for a presidential ticket out of sympathy.

Frankly, I expected much more from Ryan, and he let us down. A disengaged viewer would have seen Joe Biden as the much more forceful, much more knowledgeable candidate. Worse, Biden’s victory gives the Democratic media exactly what they were looking for: an opportunity to declare the beginning of the Obama comeback. This was a needless defeat; I could easily come up with more than 100 individuals who do not hold public office but would have done a better job than Ryan did tonight. It was a big disappointment. Let’s just hope that Biden overplayed his hand and TV viewers thought he was a weirdo. And let’s hope that no one votes based on the VP candidate. Advantage, Democrats.

The continuing story of the debate will center on Biden’s attitude, his craving to be the center of attention, his relentless bullying, his rudeness, disrespect and incivility, his failure to grant the occasion sufficient seriousness.

The other story will be Biden’s factual errors.

So, Hinderaker makes an important point, one that his fellow Republicans are, naturally, overlooking.

You can grasp it by doing a thought experiment: what if the candidate sitting across from Joe Biden last night had been Chris Christie? For how many seconds do you think Chris Christie would have tolerated Biden’s manic and antic disposition?

8 comments:

Jeff Dorsai said...

but Ryans not Christie ... and Christie is certainly not Ryan when it comes to details ...

Ryans not running for the job of leader of the free world ... he's running for the subordinate job ...

I think you and Powerline are confusing how a leader can respond to attacks of this nature ...

Ryans job last night was not to fight Biden, it was to show swing voters that Romney/Ryan are capable of leading the country ...

Would figuratively slamming Joe to the ground and stepping on his throat as the Alpha male have done that ? Really ?

Sure, it would have fired up the base but is that really leadership ?

Romney / Ryan are running for the leadership job for ALL Americans, not just the GOP ...

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Sorry if I gave the impression that I wanted Ryan to bodyslam Biden... like the kid in Australia who did it to a bully.

I think that Ryan should have figured out a way to call out Biden on his behavior... Bush did it with a nod of his head... and not look intimidated by it... which I and Hinderaker and even the WSJ think he did.

Malcolm said...

Biden appealed to the group that thinks everything the Republicans say is a lie.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I think that he did just that, but still, what is the point of potentially alienating independent voters, especially independent women voters. The Dem base was going to vote for Obama anyway, for reasons that have nothing to do with Biden.

Unless Biden's strategy was to round up Obama's pundit supporters, the ones who had gone off the reservation after the first debate.

Dennis said...

When Biden is attempting this kind of action to JUST maintain the base then one needs to ask how bad is it for team Obama.

Malcolm said...

What Ryan should have said about Biden’s Big Smile

LA replies:


I would have had him say something like this:
Vice President Biden by his shockingly rude behavior while I am speaking is revealing what Democrats really believe about Republicans. The Democrats pretend to believe in democracy and free speech and civil discourse, but what they really believe is that no position different from their own has any legitimacy or should be allowed in our political system. What they really believe is that Republicans are bigoted, racist, oppressive white men, faith-based crazies, ignorant people who are (as Barack Obama put it in 2008) bitterly clinging to the guns and Bibles out of fear of everyone different from themselves. They believe that nothing Republicans or conservatives say is based in reason and good faith, but rather is a front for racial and sexual bigotry and economic oppression, and therefore all conservatives, all those who dissent from left-liberalism, are illegitimate and should be silenced.
The Democrats push the most radical positions, positions that no one ever heard of before, such as the diktat that all women must have all their birth control expenses paid for by their employers, and then they say that anyone who opposes this crazy, tyrannical idea which no one heard of before is “anti-woman” and “waging a war against women.”

The Democrats say that people who want our nation’s laws enforced and illegal aliens kept out, do not have any legitimate reasons for that position, but simply want to hurt people who look different from themselves. Which means that all the concerns that the people in Arizona have stated about the lawlessness and crime and chaos resulting from mass illegal immigration are just cynical lies, a transparent cover for racial hatred.

The Democrats say that all the criticisms of the Administration for the disaster in Libya and the cover-up of that disaster—a disaster caused by the Administration’s refusal to recognize the existence of our jihadist enemies, because at bottom they sympathize with those jihadist enemies—are nothing but cynical partisan positioning by Romney and Ryan.

Do you see the pattern? The Democrats are a party of extreme radicalism, and they seek to delegitimize and silence any criticism of that radicalism by portraying it as bigotry or partisan lies.

The ultimate end of the Democrats’ belief system is a One Party State, in which all non-Democratic positions are prohibited.

And that is the belief system what Mr. Biden is expressing and appealing to by his disgraceful behavior of laughing and mugging as I am speaking.

Anonymous said...

Glad to get a male POV on Ryan's performance. All I've heard from the media is how it played to women.

You're right about Chris Christie! He wouldn't have let Biden get away w/ that for more than a half second.

Anonymous said...

I hope Romney learned a great deal from that debate and is ready for Tuesday's debate.