I’ve watched nearly all of the presidential and vice presidential debates since 1988. (At first I had written that I’ve seen them all, but I may have missed one or two.) Last night was, without a doubt, the most entertaining debate I’ve ever watched. I really wish it could have kept going.
You know how you know the right wing knows their side lost the debate? They’re complaining about Joe Biden being rude to poor Paul Ryan. Apparently they were much happier with President Obama’s decision to look down and make a note (which unfortunately looked like nodding, as if in agreement) when Romney told a lie, than Biden’s decision to just laugh out loud whenever Paul Ryan strayed from the facts.
I don’t think this debate erases all the damage that was done in last week’s Romney victory. I’m not even sure it erases any of the damage; we’ll have to wait and see. I do know it made me feel a whole lot better, and that Obama supporters around the country are a little happier today than they were yesterday.
There were a number of moments that really jumped out at me. The first was when Ryan started to get annoyed with Biden and tried to zing him with, “I know you’re under a lot of duress to make an impact” and Biden just flat out laughed in his face. It reminded me of Foghorn Leghorn and the chickenhawk.
Secondly, this little exchange:
Memo to future Republican vice presidential candidates preparing for debates: Never ever ever bring up Jack Kennedy. But setting aside the moment for a second, even on the substance, Ryan was hilariously wrong. Kennedy did cut taxes but he cut the highest marginal rate down from 89% to 76%. Romney/Ryan are proposing cutting the top rate from 35% to 28%. It’s a completely ridiculous comparison that they are trying to make so they can appeal to Kennedy Democrats and Biden wasn’t having any of it.
Charlie Pierce described Paul Ryan’s performance in the exchange about Afghanistan like this:
He was more lost in Afghanistan than the Russian army ever was.
That sounds about right. By the end of the exchange Ryan seemed to be arguing that it would be a good idea to risk American soldiers’ lives rather than Afghan security forces to attack the Taliban. Um, what?
I loved that Biden called Ryan out on his Recovery Act hypocrisy. While Ryan claims that the stimulus was a waste of taxpayer money that didn’t help the economy, Biden reminds him of the two letters he sent asking for stimulus funds on behalf of his district. Ryan’s answer that he was just performing constituent services was incredibly lame.
Finally, Biden’s answer to the ridiculously-framed question by Martha Raddatz about abortion was perfect. While Paul Ryan put every woman on notice that his faith meant that their healthcare decisions would be made by men like him, Joe Biden simply said that he accepts his church’s teachings about life, but that he will not impose them on the country.
Like I said, I have no idea if this debate will have any effect on the polls or the outcome in November. VP debates are generally considered to be pretty inconsequential. But for Democratic supporters, this was a needed boost, and the Obama campaign can be happy about that.