The Corner

The Biden Bubble Slowly Deflated

Joe Biden has been widely criticized for his smirks, interruptions, and contemptuous rhetoric during the vice presidential debate — and deservedly so. He looked and sounded like a jerk much of the time. But I would submit that viewers and listeners who took in the entire debate got a very different picture of Biden from those who watched the first 30 to 45 minutes and then bailed.

Biden was obviously told to be aggressive. Democrats concluded that the president’s poor showing last week was entirely attributable to style, to a lack of energy and assertiveness, not to substance. They wanted Biden to come out swinging, and to dominate Paul Ryan like a schoolyard bully. (Remember that schoolyard bullies often do what they do because it draws an appreciative audience. Human nature isn’t always pretty.)

But Biden isn’t just some empty vessel into which Democratic handlers can pour whatever they want. He is a longtime senator, a windbag, and 69 years old. I’m sure I wasn’t the only viewer to notice that a little past the halfway point of the debate, his energy began to flag. His attention and sentences began to wander. His voice even softened, and his eyes narrowed. It was as if just before the debate someone had inflated Joe Biden like a balloon (that this rhymes with buffoon is merely a coincidence), and about an hour later it sprang a leak.

Ryan, on the other hand, was a bit off-balance at first but clearly won the final half of the debate. If you watched the whole thing, he came across better than Biden — calm, informed, earnest. But if you caught the vice president before the balloon deflated, you might have concluded he looked strong and confident.

John Hood — John Hood is president of the John William Pope Foundation, a Raleigh-based grantmaker that supports public policy organizations, educational institutions, arts and cultural programs, and humanitarian relief in North Carolina ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Pelosi’s House of Pain

Not so long ago — as recently as the cover of the March 2019 Rolling Stone, in fact — they seemed like the best of friends. I'm referring to Nancy Pelosi and the members of "The Squad": Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and (not pictured) Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. They shared some good ... Read More

Gender Dissenter Gets Fired

Allan M. Josephson is a distinguished psychiatrist who, since 2003, has transformed the division of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology at the University of Louisville from a struggling department to a nationally acclaimed program. In the fall of 2017 he appeared on a panel at the Heritage Foundation ... Read More
Film & TV

How Seinfeld Mastered the Comedy Domain

I can’t say whether Larry Charles, Larry David, Alec Berg, Spike Feresten, and the rest of the brilliant writers of Seinfeld were students of F. Scott Fitzgerald, but they might as well have been. Fitzgerald supplied the best advice for sitcom writers: Start with an individual, and before you know it you find ... Read More