As usual this is last minute, but I’m going to have this blog entry in place and just update it with comments as I watch. A little different approach, we’ll see how it works. I’ll add content chronologically, adding to the bottom as I go.
8:53: I’m deliberately watching this on CSPAN so I don’t get infected with any inserted bias from talking heads. Add your own thoughts in the comment section below!
8:56: Protip: Hit F5 or the Refresh button on your browser to see the latest entries
9:01 And here we go. I should be embarrassed to have no idea who Martha Radditz is. These are the rules, etc. Biden opens, cheap pop line, etc. Ryan already strikes me as a bit nervous-looking. I always wish I could hear what they’re saying to each other before the mics are on.
9:03: Opening question about attack in Benghazi. ‘Was this a massive intelligence failure?’ Seems a rather confrontational way to phrase the question, but oh well. Biden is coming out swinging nicely, hitting Romney on his reactions to ending Iraq, killing OBL, etc. This is a pretty tough Biden, nice opening salvo.
9:06: Ryan pushing “if we’re hit by terrorists, we’re going to call it what it is.” Ignoring that they didn’t know it was until it happened. Claiming Biden is “trying to blame the Romney-Ryan ticket,” which is bullshit. Guy lies about something everyone just watched, reminds me of Cheney’s “I never said Iraq was responsible for 9-11” line v. Edwards in 2004. Ryan playing sympathy guy, invoking Beau Biden, etc. “What we are watching…is the unravelling of the Obama foreign policy,” which I disagree with.
9:08: Ryan lies about the Administration’s position, Biden’s laughing at him. Good. Ryan pushing “equivocating on our values,” etc.
9:09: “With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey. Nothing he said is accurate.” Nice. And now beating Ryan down on his facts, including the over-eager making of statements and jumping to blame “terrorists” before there was any evidence to base it on. Biden pushing Obama accomplishment. Well played, and nicely aggressive.
9:10: Biden answering with good confidence and firmness regarding why the WH response to Benghazi wasn’t more aggressive and quick. “We said exactly what the intelligence community told us what they knew, that was their assessment.” Paraphrasing and when they changed, we updated the people, that’s what leaders do.
9:12: Mod gets Ryan to concede that “apologies” are sometimes appropriate, Ryan goes off on a tangent, and attempts to justify over-eager labeling of terrorism before jumping back to “we shouldn’t apologize for our values.” Not a strong response, but it’ll play with the base. Moving on to Iran…
9:13: “How effective will a military strike (on Iran) be?” Ryan asserts that Iran now capable of making 5 nukes; first I’ve heard this. Claims to be pushing for sanctions against Iran, and had been rebuffed by Obama admin. Claims an attempt by Iran at a terrorist attack in the US…which was stopped by Obama admin, but he overlooks that. Keeps pushing the idea that sanctions are now only in place due to congress, and Obama admin has no credibility. Biden: “Incredible.” Points out further questions about how to get the international community to work with us, no way Russia, China would go along with some saber-rattling response. “Do you want to go to war?” Making point that thus far war has been avoided. Israeli & US intel “in the same place,” both agree that Iran is a long way from having one weapon let alone five. “There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point.” “All this bluster, all this loose talk…what are they talking about?” Point again to Biden.
9:17: Ryan “looking at this from the view of the Ayatollahs.” Drags out the “View” appearance. Attempting to paint Obama as weak and unaggressive, allowing Iran to get a bomb. “Can you solve this problem in two months?” Ryan now says he agrees that Iran’s imminent bomb – that he just said they already had – isn’t as close as Netanyahu said it was. Which is it? Biden blows up the “Obama blew off Netanyahu” narrative: “This is a bunch of stuff.” Reiterates “we will not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon.” “They don’t have a weapon to put (the fissile material Ryan raised earlier) into.” Ryan “They’re four years closer to a nuclear weapon.” Biden “Facts matter…All this loose talk about all they need…is the uranium…not true.” “We will have the world behind us, and that matters.”
9:21: Ryan continuing to try to paint Obama admin as “equivocating,” claims that any disagreement with Israel gives Iran encouragement, etc. Meh. More fearmongering. I don’t see it. Very much preferring Biden’s measured approach here. “Calm down, let’s not panic.” “Big nations can’t bluff; this president doesn’t bluff.”
9:23: Moving on to unemployement: Can you get it under 6%: Biden: we can and we will. Biden going through a fact recital of economy @ beginning of Obama. Hitting Romney on let Detroit go, let mortgages go, 47%, Biden getting fired up hard – “I’ve had it up to here with this 47%…” Nails them on kissing Norquist’s ass. BEAUTIFUL exposition from Biden, Ryan looking smug, we’ll see what he says in response.
9:26: Ryan goes into a clearly rehearsed speech that starts with a lie. Real reforms, real recovery, five-point plan, etc. etc., now Mitt Romney’s a “car guy,” “they keep misquoting him,” etc. Now a nice little anecdote, paralyzed kids, etc. Mitten Claus story. Pfft. Anecdote with no supporting evidence. Saint Mitt. “He cares about 100% of Americans in this country.” Cheapshot/laughline @ Biden about words not coming out of your mouth. Cute line, ha ha, you’re still an asshole Ryan.
9:29: Oh, we’re going to talk about Romney the car guy and the family who had an accident…yeah, Biden knows a few things about auto accidents, doesn’t he. Hits the Detroit go bankrupt point again, moving in to the improvement of the auto industry and starts nailing on “if they get out of the way.” “Just get out of the way. Stop talking about how you care…show me a policy.” Nails Ryan on his votes that helped build the debt, etc. Ryan pushes “one-party control” lie…again, we’re back to the lies, which have been killed over and over again. What a mess this guy is.
9:32: “What are you going to do to get the economy growing at 4%?” Ryan: “We’re going to do it.” No explanation how, just that it’s going to happen. Biden hits Ryan for asking for the same stimulus money that he’s now trying to run down. Biden is killing this. Killing the “cronyism” nonsense, killing the “waste and fraud” nonsense, etc. “Electric cars in Finland,” “borrow all this money from countries like China.” Pfft. Ryan’s getting his ass handed to him on a platter at this point.
9:34: Paul Ryan loves medicare. *eyeroll* If we screw everyone under 54, we’ll be fine. Repeats the same $716billion lie again…how many times does this have to be shot down? Seriously, why is this continuing to come up, don’t they grasp that we know it’s bullshit? “He’ll say all these things to try to scare people.” No, that’s the right’s methodology. Trying to play “death panel.” Annnnnd the first thing Biden does is call him on it. Biden again comes to the table with facts – cuts that eliminate fraud, etc. Biden goes straight to camera, and nukes the “killing seniors” by asking them directly. Calls a voucher a spade. I really love this – Biden is giving the performance that I wanted to see.
9:38: Ryan is going to start calling people thieves, pushing the “one out of six” lie again, etc. And ryan tries the “I know you’re under a lot of duress,” Biden laughs at his sorry ass. Good for him. Mod: “What is your specific plan?” Biden is laughing almost constantly….and boom. “If they’d just allow Medicare to [negotiate drug prices], they’d save umpteen billion.” Jesus, he’s all over common sense here. Biden is killing this. Ryan trying to sell privatization as “more choice.” Do people really believe this crap?
9:44 Ryan – “this is what politicians do who don’t have a record to run on.” Annnnd your record is? Nuke medicare. Ryan, “We’re not going to jeopardize this program.” Biden, “You ARE jeopardizing this program.” Derp. Ryan suck at this.
9:45: If your ticket wins, who pays more who pays less? I doubt you’ll hear any surprises here – Biden will say the same things the administration has been saying, Ryan will continue to lie by pretending that cutting taxes for the very wealthy isn’t cutting taxes for the very wealthy. Pushing “small business income,” blah blah, mixing apples and oranges, etc. “There aren’t enough rich people and small businesses to tax. Watch out middle class, the tax increase is coming to you!” What was that you were saying a few minutes ago about fearmongering, Mr. Ryan?
9:48: Ryan pushes out a mush of numbers with no supporting evidence. Mod: “Do you have specifics?” Ryan fails to offer specifics, playing “we’re going to be Mr. Conciliation,” even though they’ve refused the slightest compromise. Still no specifics, just repeating the same stuff. Dragging the “six studies” lie again. Biden pushes let’s talk real numbers, let’s talk about what you’re calling small business, Romney’s 14% is fair shot on 60 minutes. Biden names his sources for supporting evidence in favor of his assertions. Ryan’s response: “He’s wrong, because I said so.”
LOL “Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy?” Waaaay to close to that line, Mr. Ryan. You don’t want to feed a Jack Kennedy comparison to Joe Biden. He’ll eat you alive. Ryan invokes Reagan. Someone should tell him that Reagan’s not here, he’s not Reagan, and the current Republican party has completely failed to act in even the minimal compromises that Reagan was willing to make.
9:54: Now the increases to defense aren’t actually there. They’re going to cut. Republicans: We’re going to cut troops, we’re going to cut boats, we’re going to cut planes, because you can’t cut the military. Is this guy drunk?
9:57: I hate to say it, but this woman has more balls than Jim Lehrer did. Moving on to AFghanistan…
9:57: “We agree with the administraiton on their 2014 transition.” Wait, I thought it was a bad thing to announce the end ahead of time? Which is it, Paul?
9:59: Going through accomplishments in Afghanistan, etc. One of my readers says the moderator seems biased. I’m not sure I see that. I try to watch for my own bias creeping in, but I think she’s been fair so far. Tough, but fair.
10:01: Not really seeing any particular great moments here, just Ryan continuing to push “failed foreign policy.” NOW we’re back to “don’t broadcast to our enemies.” Mod is trying to reconcile the dichotomy, Ryan basically writing explanation of why Obama admin hasn’t left Afghanistan yet. Biden makes a good point in that without a deadline, there’s no incentive for Afghanistan to get it together themselves.
10:04: Biden calls moderator on misquoting/alleging political motivation for troop drawdown, gives a clear accounting of reasons for timing of troop reduction.
10:05: I’ll give Ryan half a point on understanding ‘fighting season,’ but now it’s oh, we’re putting troops in danger by drawing down. Biden clarifies and crystallizes; troops replaced by Afghan forces. Ryan pushes “fewer troops,” Biden well duh, that’s because there’s more Afghan troops. You want MORE US troops?
10:08: Moving to Libya, why not the same action in Syria? Biden “It’s a different country.” Lovely way to give a straight, simple answer to a complex question. He goes on to give a more elaborate answer, hitting on the insurance that there’s no power vacuum. “What more would they do, other than putting American boots on the ground?” Romney’s plan leads to long, involved war/conflict. Points out that Romney has disagreed with Obama policy but refuses to make any verbal commitment to actually do what they are suggesting that they want to do. Ryan “outsourcing to United Nations,” “giving Putin veto power,” yeah, dude, there are other countries in the world. You want to go to war with Russia? Playing the same drum, hurry up and kill someone so people don’t get killed.
10:12: Biden discusses how a big project takes time, getting people working together and in the same direction. Reasonable enough.
10:12: What happens if Assad doesn’t fall? Ehhhh, I don’t even think this is a good question. Ryan is playing Monday-morning quarterback.
10:14: Ryan’s criteria for intervention. “Strategic national security interest.” Mod: “No humanitarian?” Ryan skates past it.
10:14: Religion, and abortion. About time that came up. Abortion, I mean. Ryan starts with “I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their faith.” You probably ought to learn, it’s a job requirement. Ryan invokes “reason and science” to defend anti-abortion position, and jumps immediately to anecdote. Romney official position: against abortion except rape, incest, mother’s life. Immediately accuses administration of violating religious liberty. Biden pushes progressive/social welfare as based in his faith. PERFECT answer: He accepts his religion’s position on abortion for his life, but he refuses to push that on other people. Exactly what *anyone* ought to be thinking in that role. Also kills the lie about “forcing churches to provide abortions.” Calls out Ryan on shifting policy. Ryan splits between “position” and “policy.” Mod: should pro-abortion voters be worried about legal abortion going away under a Romney Ryan ticket; Ryan tries to avoid saying “yes,” but pretty much does anyway.
10:21: On negative campaigning, framed as a question from a soldier. Biden’s response is reasonable and level and honorable…and pulls out the 47% again, noting that the “47% not paying taxes” includes all those soldiers,” moves into pretty much stump points re: middle class, use of troops, etc. Ryan pushes no cuts, blames negative campaigning on Obama admin and then launches into negative campaigning, and recycling more lies. Meh.
My final thoughts (unless something important is said while I’m writing): Overall, this was a pretty major shellacking by Biden. He had facts at hand, good answers, took no bullshit, called Ryan on lies. Ryan pushed the same nonsense, the same lies, the same old crap. Calling this one for Biden, by a very healthy margin. The right-wing base will be the right-wing base, and the same for the left. The pundits will generally love Biden.
LOL Mod: “What do you bring that nobody else could?” Ryan’s first word: “Honesty” Pfft. Biden a little testy, will get dinged for bad form bitching about “he gets 40, I get 15.”
Closing statements…we’ll see, but I’m not expecting anything here. The real action was in the first 40 minutes. Biden’s close was solid and reasonable. Now Ryan’s speech. Negative, running the same failed lines, “government takeover of health care,” etc.
Additional thoughts/observations, quickly: The thing that sticks out most: Biden talked. Ryan made speeches. Biden had a conversation. Ryan recited talking points. Biden’s closing statement sounded like a guy ending a conversation. Ryan’s closing statement sounded like a very well-polished campaign ad, including the obligatory salesman 101 “ask them for the sale” hook. I’m not sure that kind of thing works too well anymore, other than a few professional salesmen who will scream BIDEN DIDN’T ASK FOR THE VOTE, HE FAILED.
Biden won this one. Ryan had a couple of fairly decent spots, but at no point did he appear particularly strong or exhibit any meaningful signs of “leadership.” Biden was never less than good.
Pundits (via Politico on CSPAN) one says draw, one says Biden and mentions similar points that I’ve made about Ryan’s polished, shining little salesman. Third points out that more dems across media were excited and confident about Biden’s performance. Final pundit makes a great line: “Paul Ryan looked like he was running for student council president.” I think that’s a fair assessment – not for minimizing him, but for his actual performance; it was very eager-beaver and smooth-talker, rather than personable and human.
That’s my thoughts, feel free to leave yours below.