The Corner

Foolscap

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. 

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