The Corner


1. Vice-presidential debates have little impact on elections. This one was no exception.

2. Joe Biden may not be “wise enough to play the fool” in the Obama court, but he is a sort of lesser buffoon, and expectations for his performance were so low that as long as there was no “I’m not as think as you dumb I am” moment, his camp was bound to portray the debate, like David Axelrod did, as a major victory. But whatever good Biden’s performance did him with his fans — who are going to vote for him in any case — it was almost certainly canceled out by his incurable buffoonery, the opéra bouffe smiles and giggles, the bizarre impertinence, a weird euphoria amounting almost to mania, all of which doubtless struck many voters as odd and unbecoming.

3. Paul Ryan’s first-class performance had this disadvantage: With it coming so soon after Mitt Romney’s vivisection of President Obama last week — some of the best debating most of us have ever seen — I felt it a bit of a letdown. I realize that the reaction is unreasonable: you should as soon grumble that Haydn didn’t quite do it for you because your head, when you listened to him, was still full of Mozart.

4. These debates are too long. Yes, the Lincoln–Douglas debates were a lot longer. But they were debates, not a showcase of sound bites. An hour is enough. 

Most Popular


The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Science & Tech

Set NASA Free

The Trump administration has proposed shifting the International Space Station from a NASA-exclusive research facility to a semi-public, semi-private one. Its plan would nix all government funding for the ISS by 2025 and award at least $150 million per year to NASA to help with the transition. This would be a ... Read More