Biden was disgracefully rude, and the moderator both allowed him to get away with it and contributed to that disgraceful atmosphere herself, through her own interruptions and persistent, argumentative follow-ups with Ryan. Every time Ryan gained momentum, making a substantive point, Biden strategically interrupted him, and many times that Ryan was scoring the moderator interrupted him too, as if she were collaborating with Joe.
People may think Biden won on passion and even had a slight edge on him on substance, but I am convinced it wouldn’t have been as close on substance if Biden had not been permitted to talk over Ryan as much. Biden did do a fairly good job defending an indefensible record, and Ryan acquitted himself well on substance, despite the interruptions. Biden was derisive, sneering, and disrespectful even concerning the most sensitive subjects — from Iran to abortion.
I wish Ryan had not been so deferential, but from what I’m seeing of initial shock polls, it appears that Biden’s strategy has backfired. People should not make the mistake of thinking Biden’s passion led to his rudeness. This was clearly premeditated in an effort to counter what the Obama analysts deemed was Obama’s greatest failing in the debate.
Ryan came across as respectful and intelligent. I think he began well and closed well — because he was allowed to develop and articulate his points with less interruption. When the playing field was level, i.e, free of interruption — which moments were few and far between — Ryan bested Biden.
This debate may tee up the next two for Romney and Obama, and I think Obama will try to be as aggressive as Biden but probably less rude, once he discovers the public didn’t approve of it. Biden did help Obama in the sense of providing him the best possible answers, though factually incorrect and demagogic, for the failed record. So Biden’s performance, as flawed as it was, will not help Team Obama tonight and may have hurt it, but it will help Obama prepare for the next two debates.