The Second Debate – From Too Little To Too Much

Last evening Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan met in the first and only Vice Presidents debate.  The debate featured grimaces, interruptions, and strong assertions.  In the end, Martha Radditz, the moderator,  was the winner.

Unlike the first debate (between the Presidential candidates) where Jim Lehrer did as little as possible to moderate, Ms Radditz was firmly present without dominating.  When the inmates tried to leave the reservation, she caught them by their ears and brought them back to the question asked.

Biden spoke with a clear command of facts and never shied from calling out Ryan on unsupported claims.  Ryan for his part was calm and measured in responses.  He never showed any signs of irritation even thought he could have.

Ryan might as well have been Mitt Romney.  His answers as well as his statements which had nothing to do with the question, were restatements of Romney’s first debate positions.  Ryan offered no indications on how Romney could reduce tax rates 20%, reduce the deficit, and not increase the burden on the middle class.

Ryan huffed and puffed on Iraq, Iran, Israel, and Afghanistan without saying what he would do differently from the current Administration.  Most dramatic was the double talk associated with what red line must be crossed in order to put US troops on the ground.

Biden gave a convincing performance on questions asked and follow-ups to Ryan statements.  But as most things to do with Joe Biden, he went too far with theatrics associated with his statements.  He laughed at Ryan statements, he interrupted, and he even whined to Raddatz about how much time he was going to get to rebut a Ryan statement.  No one, however, can say that Joe Biden did not show up to debate.

When the stage lights went dark and one reflected upon the evening, somethings have not changed.

The Romney tax cut plans seems as unsupported as ever and clearly aimed at another freebie for the wealthy.  Romney’s foreign policy command is next to nothing.  And the middle class better hope that in some magical way their jobs will suddenly pay a lot more because the middle class is going to bare the brunt of Romney’s solution to the deficit crisis.  (Someone who is cynical might argue that Romney has no interest in really attacking the deficit for four years and will blame the $1 trillion levels on President Obama.)

As far as political promises go, Biden assured Americans that the middle class would not be targeted without first forcing the top 1% (those earning over $1 million) to pay more in taxes.  Beyond that, there was no further information on how the deficit would be reduced, how Medicare and Medicaid would be sustained, or how the economy (and associated jobs) would grow.

In the first debate, President Obama showed too little emotion and conviction that he was the better alternative.  In the second debate (for Vice President candidates), Joe Biden probably showed too much energy.  On balance if one added the two debate performances, the Democrats got it as right as they could.

Martha Raddatz seemed to be the only one in the room who was interested in learning the real facts supporting each candidate’s position.  Hail the winner, Martha Raddatz.

 

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