I just watched the Vice-Presidential debate. Here are some of my reactions.
1. Joe Biden did well especially in the beginning and the middle of the debate, when he was passionate. Some may think that Biden projected an attitude of arrogance when he laughed, sighed, and interrupted Paul Ryan. In my opinion, Biden was projecting intelligence: he was conveying that he was able to respond to Ryan’s criticisms, even if he did not always get a chance to do so fully. Near the end, Biden was more subdued, and Ryan was making an effective case about the broken promises of the Obama Administration—-how, for example, Obamacare raises certain taxes on the middle-class. But, as faltering as Biden was near the end, Biden did well to hit the other side on Mitt Romney’s 47 percent comment, and Ryan’s 30 percent comment that Ryan made in a speech.
2. I hope that President Barack Obama displays the same sort of passion that Joe Biden did. But I’m also hoping that Obama will be Presidential and will stick primarily to policy, not so much Mitt Romney’s tax returns, or Bain Capital, or even the 47 percent. My understanding is that Vice-Presidential candidates can be attack dogs, but Presidential candidates—-especially incumbents—-need to be more dignified and Presidential. Obama can do that by sticking to policy—-which means passionately critiquing the policies of Romney/Ryan, defending his own policies, pushing Romney for specifics, and even highlighting Romney’s flip-flops—-which is an attack, but more of a policy attack.
3. I’ve not read the fact checks yet, so please keep that in mind as I comment on what the candidates said on the issues. I’ll start with foreign policy. On Libya, Biden did well to say that Ryan sought to cut Marine presence at the embassy, and yet even what Biden said indicated that there was an intelligence failure, which should probably be investigated. On the issue of Afghanistan, Biden did well to say that we’re training the Afghans so that we do not have to be there on an uncertain basis, and I especially liked Biden incredulously exclaiming “Not in the east?” in response to Ryan, as if Ryan didn’t know what he was talking about. On Iran, Ryan made an effective point when he said that the Obama Administration did not initially support sanctions at a rigorous level, but I suspect that there’s more to the story than that; meanwhile, I thought that Biden conveyed that the Obama Administration has the situation under control. On Syria, I wish that Biden responded to Ryan’s statement that the Obama Administration considered the Syrian leader to be a reformer, but Biden was right to ask what Romney would do that the Obama Administration is not currently doing.
Now for domestic policy. On health care, particularly Medicare, Biden asking American seniors if they were better off was quite effective, since it indicates that Biden is not afraid of their answer. Ryan made a fairly decent point when he said that the premium-support under his plan would be based on income, but Biden did well when he said that Ryan’s goal was to save money in Medicare and so most likely the same amount of money wouldn’t be spent on Medicare under his plan than is spent now, and also when he stated that Ryan’s earlier version of the plan was more extreme, and Romney said at one point that he’d be willing to sign the earlier plan. In my opinion, Biden comes across as more trustworthy on health care.
On the economy, Biden did well when he said that Ryan did not look at the job statistics, and he also made an effective point when he mentioned Romney’s comments about letting Detroit go bankrupt as well as foreclosures. My impression is that Romney wasn’t for letting nature take its course when it came to the automobile industry—-see here—-but Ryan did not respond to Biden on this point. Biden hitting Ryan on Ryan’s request for stimulus money was also a good strategy. Regarding abortion and contraception, I thought that Ryan made a good case for a pro-life position, and Biden’s argument that Obamacare does not require Catholics to support contraception appeared to be false when Ryan then asked why there are private institutions that are suing the government on religious freedom grounds. (Whether Biden’s claim is true or untrue, I do not know, but I think Ryan made a good counter-attack there.) But Biden probably won that round because he pointed out that Romney is advised by Robert Bork on judicial issues, and the many women who are concerned about maintaining Roe vs. Wade would most likely stick with Obama rather than allow Romney to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices.
4. I thought it was cool when the candidates and their families talked with each other after the debate, especially when Biden and Ryan’s mother were conversing.