The Corner

Do Not Count on This Helping the President


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 her own persistent, and argumentative follow-ups with Ryan — not Biden. Every time Ryan gained momentum, making a substantive point, Biden strategically interrupted him, and many times when Ryan was scoring the moderator interrupted him too, as if she were collaborating with Joe. People may think Biden won on passion, that it was a draw, or the vice president had a slight edge 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 so much.

Biden did do a fairly good job defending an indefensible record, and Ryan acquitted himself very well on substance, despite being repeatedly interrupted. 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 very respectful and intelligent.

I think Ryan began very well, and closed very well — i.e., he was best when he was allowed to articulate his points without repeated interruption. In those moments, which were few and far between, Ryan bested Biden.

This debate tees up the next two for Romney and Obama: The president will try to be as aggressive as Biden, while being 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 — however factually incorrect and demagogic — for their failed record.

So while Biden’s flawed performance will not help Team Obama tonight and may have hurt it in the long run, it will help Obama prepare for the next two debates.


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