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In search of the Unified Theory of Conservatism

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LiveBlogging the VP Debate

October 11th, 2012 · 2 Comments

The Bottom Line:  Before this debate, I thought Biden was a likeable buffoon.  Now I think he’s a very unlikeable buffoon.

Not a clear domination like the last debate.  Indeed – it left me damned frustrated for the lack of substance.  This is what happens when you have a too-present moderator who won’t do her one actual job, which is to be the umbrella for both sides when it’s their turn to speak.  Horrible.  Just horrible. And by the way, hate, hate, hate this sitting.  I agree with Peggy Noonan – stand up at podiums, people.

Ryan was unflappable, but I actually wish he would have flapped a bit more in response to Biden’s constant interrupting and grinning.  How great would it have been if he would have said, “Mr. Vice President, I don’t find 4 dead Americans funny – why are you laughing?”  And, “Mr. Vice President, I understand you don’t want the American people to hear the truth behind these numbers, but they deserve to hear them, and they can’t when you keep speaking over me and jumping in.  Be still for just 2 minutes!”  Biden exemplifies the incompetence of our political class.

The talking heads are aghast right now about the interruptions and rudeness.  I wonder what effect that imagery will have, especially coupled with the calm demeanor of Ryan.  For anyone with a well-tuned BS detector, interrupting like that spikes the BS Meter off the charts.  I’ve been losing faith, however, in the calibration of the American electorate’s BS detectors…

There is plenty here for both sides to claim victory on, but I don’t know.  I think both sides credibly got their messages out, and the question is how they will resonate with the undecideds, who are a mercurial bunch.  As always, when I live blog, I hear more than I see, and I thought Ryan had more memorable quips and takeaways, even a few with numbers (run the govt for 98 days and all that).

I didn’t watch it on CNN, but I understand from people who did that the undecided voter reaction was incredibly positive for Ryan, particularly with women.  If that’s true, the takeaway from this will be whether Biden energizing his base at the expense of turning off the undecideds came at too high a price for Obama.  Update on this:  The CNN snap poll:

Winner: Ryan 48%, Biden 44%
More likeable: Ryan 53%, Biden 43%
More in touch with problems of people like you: Ryan 51%, Biden 44%

CNBC Snap Poll:

Paul Ryan: 56%, Joe Biden: 36%, Neither: 8%

As I understand it, these snap polls are pre-selected, self-described undecided voters.  If that’s indeed the case, then this was a BIG win, since “winning” in this case is defined as what moves the most voters to our side.  If these numbers are accurate, the momentum Romney built last week was solidified, and that’s a good thing.

Click here for the whole live blog! 

7:30:  Ryan:  Obama had his chance, and it failed.  Exactly.  I’m surprised Biden isn’t yelling “BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!!!”

7:29:  Biden is so churlish.  He didn’t crap his pants, but really  if you were looking to give one of these two men $1,000 to invest, which would it be?  The guy who so lacks confidence that he’ll be upstaged that he can’t even let the other guy get out a complete sentence?

7:26:  Stuff Middle Class likes will be eviscerated!  Please – what will eviscerate them is to run up the credit card until we run out of other people’s money and have no ability to get more.  That event is closer than we thing.  I’m not a Republican because I oppose the government helping people, I’m a Republican because I need that assistance to be sustainable.

7:23:  So opponents to a sitting President’s foreign policy are an “abomination”?  Like all those people critical of Bush for so long?  I agree with Bush a lot of the time, but I was happy to see him criticized.  It’s a sign of weakness to claim your opponent shouldn’t even be allowed to question what you do – one more piece of evidence of a weak presidency.

7:22:  Hey, Joe – MILITARY PEOPLE PAY TAXES!!!!  If not, I’m owed an awfully big refund…

7:21:  Talking about Supreme Court nominees – every presidential election year, I wish this were a bigger issue.  But for Biden to say that Obama’s judges don’t have an agenda is nonsense.  ALL of them have agendas, whcih we call “judicial philosophies.”  I’m fine with that – let’s be honest about it.

7:20:  Thank you Todd Akin, for giving Biden this opening.  Gah.

7:16:  Abortion?  Really?  But I have to say that I strongly identify with what Ryan is saying right now.  I used to be pro-choice, and remained largely agnostic on the issue for a long time.  But I changed my mind after long discussions with a close Catholic friend of mine, and I could never go back after seeing my own kid in an ultrasound. Having said that, more humility all around is needed on this issue.  But that said, I hate this whole, “I won’t impose my morality.”  If that were the standard, we wouldn’t outlaw the killing of toddlers, either.

7:15:  Must be in the national interest – humanitarian alone not enough.  I agree with this to a point, but humanitarian reasons shoudln’t be ignored, either.

7:12:   “What happens if Assad hangs on?”  Death.  “We should work with true reformers” – I agree.  And back to Iraq SOFA failure.

7:10:   “We wouldn’t be outsourcing our foreign policy.”  And explains how Russia is NOT, in fact, our ally, as Biden claimed earlier in the debate.

7:09:  “Identify the people who need help.”  And then ignore them like we did in Libya, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Tunisia, etc. etc. etc….

7:08:  “What’s the difference between Libya and Syria?”  “It’s a different country.”  One heartbeat away, folks.

7:07:   “We’re” sending in more Afghans?  Ugh.  Talk about completely not understanding the situation and culture in that country.

7:06:  Ryan clearly studied all these tribe names, and couldn’t wait to pull them out.  It’s amazing that Ryan has been so much better on foreign policy than on the economy, although that’s because he’s being allowed to actually, you know, participate on that issue.

7:03:  Good on Martha for calling out Bdien on the political timing on the surge.  I don’t think she’s doing a very good job as moderator, but I think she’s being fair.

7:02:  I agree that Afghan security is the responsibility of the Afghans.  The problem is that what happens in Afghanistan doesn’t stay in Afghanistan, which makes their security OUR concern.

7:00:  “We are leaving in 2014, period.”  Because those announcements are preventing Afghans from sucker-murdering the soldiers who are training them.  We need to stay in the Middle East the way we stayed in Europe for 60 years after WWII, and for the same reasons.

6:59:  I really wish ANYONE on the ticket had served in the military.  And Biden, you going on a fact finding trip doesn’t count, and it’s offensive to claim that mantle – “WE went in there to get Bin Laden”.  Incredibly offensive.

6:56:  Budget issues cannot be discussed in 2 second snips, but inaccurate demagoguery can.  Biden knows this, which is why he keeps ensuring 2 second snips back and forth.  Hack.

6:54:  Ryan’s being far too nice to Biden at this point.  Biden’s strategy is clear – tak talk talk until they both look small, and no one hears details or explanations.  And now the moderator is playing the Biden strategy.  I’m seriously pissed off.

6:52:  Ryan needs to tell Biden to stuff it again.  This is really pissing me off.  Biden filibustered this entire section, and the moderator did nothing.  THIS IS THE ONE THING A MODERATOR IS SUPPOSED TO STEP IN FOR!!!!!!

6:50:  Biden, STFU!!!!  Let the man speak!

6:49:  “How do you pay for tax cuts?”  I thought Ryan was TOO specific?  Ryan is right to propose frameworks, though – it’s not like this tax plan or that will be implemented wholesale upon taking office.

6:47:  If you taxed them all at 100%, it would only run the government for 98 days.”  Awesome.  “Watch out middle class – the tax bill is coming to you.”  And the business as indivdual thing – good.

6:44:  On to taxes.  Biden still doesn’t understand that lots of small businesses file as individuals, and that $1,000,000 for them has to include expenses and payrolls – it hardly makes them “rich.”

6:42:  Biden’s constant interrupting will please his base and will win the respect of the 5 year old with ADHD constituency.  But I have to think it’s not impressing anyone else.  It’s so transparently trying to hide what Ryan has to say on these issues.

6:42:  2033 is NOT that far away.  I know Biden won’t make it until then, but I will.  What’s the plan after that?  Ryan has one, Obama doesn’t, and this debate makes that clear.

6:39:  Great response from Ryan to Biden’s constant interupting – remind people of the last debate.  This is where Ryan really shines, and Biden has nothing but to shout “LALALALALALA!!!!” whenever math might be involved.  Just pathetic and obnoxious.

6:37:  “We will not privatize social security.”  Then you ensure its demise.  ANd the first really memorable quote – “hand in the piggy bank”.

6:36:  Ooooh – a Sarah Palin dig.  Lame.  And Joe, the only reason the AARP supported what you did is because they got a special deal to sell insurance under Obamacare.

6:35:  And Ryan talks about the shell games on the budget – good.  This so needs to be discussed more.  And I agree that social safety nets are desireable, which is why I agree with Paul Ryan that they need to be affordable.  As things stand now, I have zero faith any of the money I’ve ever put into the system will be there for me.

6:35:  “Where are the green jobs we were promised?”  “Let’s move on.”  I wanted to hear the answer to that.  Saved by the bell, Joe.  This is the problem with aggressive moderators.

6:33:  Not all government spending is bad.  But not all is good.  And the government invested in a wasted stimulus won’t find that it was wasteful?  Really?

6:30:  And the lie that the debt was all caused by Bush.  Rebuttal?

6:30:  Two guys down on America?  Because they don’t believe that Americans need the government to be their parents?  Boy…

6:29:  I love the % of income to charity jab.  “We want everyone to succeed.”  Biden:  “I also say what I mean.”  So does that mean the middle class really has been burried under his administration’s policies?

6:27:  I love he brought up the unemployment rate in Scranton, and that it was increasing.

6:25:  And Biden brings up the 47% comments, and follows it up with a lot of populist nonsense.  I’m so irritated that they don’t understand the difference between a public employee adding value to a community (cops, military folks) and people on the dole dragging the economy.  Foodstamp records!

6:24:  On to the economy:  Can you get unemployment under 6%?  After 4 years we already know the answer from the Dem side.

6:23:  “We can’t live with nuclear Iran, because they’ll arm everyone else.”  That’s right.  “This President doesn’t bluff.”  Wha?!?!  Please.

6:22:  “We will have the world behind us?”  Again – who?  What?  Are you kidding?  Also, a moderator beef – the choices are not “ignore Iran” and “total war,” as her questions suggest.

6:20:  Malraky again!  Drink!

6:20:  World united?  That’s nonsense.  China and Russia are more than happy to undermine our sanctions in Iran.

6:19:  The Wife:  “Why is Biden grinning and laughing like a clown?  I don’t think any of these things are funny.”

6:17:  The fear of Iran getting a nuke is “bluster”?  They don’t have one yet, so no big deal?  Holy crap.  You have to give Biden this – he tells the scary, scary truth about how unserious this administration is.

6:16:  “We could deal a blow to Iran.”  Duh.  That’s not the question.  Would we?  What would happen after?

6:15:  Russia and China are our allies?  Ryan – peace through strength!  Yes!!!

6:14:  “Administration was fighting us on sanctions, we passed them bipartisanly anyway.”  Awesome.  Talking about the terror attack in DC, again, Biden looks like he’s never heard of this before.  “The administration has no credibility on this issue.”  That’s EXACTLY the issue – no one in the Middle East believes a thing Obama says or threatens.

6:12:  “Should the US apologize?”  “Not for our values.”  And specifics on the incompetence on the Libya thing.  Good.

6:10:  “Malarky?”  Then he spouts it.  “Repaired alliances?”  Are you kidding?  Which ones?  Where?  When?  What nonsense.  And now he’s saying, “we changed our assessment as we got more facts,” but that’s BS too.  If what Biden is saying is true, he’s admitting the President is incompetent.  It’s not.

6:09:  Ryan had a great response to this nonsense that national security shouldn’t be a debatable issue in the election.

6:08:  “More than a tragedy”.  How is he reading my blog?!?  I love it.

6:06:  “Two weeks to acknowledge this was a terror attack.”  Excellent.  Biden looks like he’s hearing this info for the first time.  And hits Biden directly on the failure of an Afghan SOFA.

6:05:  Asked about Lybia, talks about bin Laden.  Pathetic, but when it’s all you got.  Ryan sees it, and grins before the pounce.

6:04:  Starting with Lybia, and pointing out that it was a terror attack on 9/11, and even pointing out that the WH story changed.  WOW.  And good.

Biden:  “It was a tragedy”.  No, it was an attack.  The word “tragedy” implies a passive, no-fault, act-of-God event.

6:01:  And we’re off!  Fisrt question – will I be able to spell “Raddatz” quickly, or will I just switch to “Martha”?  No disrespect intended if I do, but again the caffeine.  And the subsequent beer.

5:51:  Thank God for CSPAN.  I hate the post debate bloviating, and I feel like they always step on the beginning of the debate, including the audience instructions, format explanation, etc.

Speaking of format, I understand this one will be very similar to last week’s presidential debate.  Good.  How I despise the 90 second + 30 second talking point fest with the stupid little bells and buzzers.

Also, please forgive in advance any grammar and spelling errors – I’ve had a lot of caffeine today, and ya gotta keep up with these things!

5:48:  Fair warning – there may be toddler interruptions causing a tape delay…

5:43:  My prediction is that the expectations are so high that Ryan will crush Biden that, short of Biden sucking his thumb for 90 minutes, the media/Dem (but I repeat myself) narrative will be that Biden “won.”  I also predict that if Paul Ryan says that the sun rises in the east, MSNBC will call him a liar because it actually rises 20 degrees off of Due East this time of year.

5:32:  A couple of initial thoughts here.  It will be interesting to see how aggressive the moderator is in this debate.  Jon Ralston had an interesting – but I think quite incorrect – column on this issue, which took Lehrer to task for the last debate.  This isn’t partisan like a lot of the critisicm of Lehrer was, but I think it does assume far too much from any member of the press.  Ralston argues that moderators are needed when a candidate is not telling the truth or using “opaque numbers.”  The problem is that no one has the “true” answers.  Most “fact checks” are just arguments or interpretations, and often are embarrassingly wrong.  For example, Paul Ryan was called on the carpet for his convention speech, but it turns out the criticism was far more factually incorrect than anything Ryan said.  And then there’s the “welfare to work” arguments which again, rely on statutory interpretation rather than some black and white “truth”.  And I’m sorry, but I don’t trust any media figure or any moderator – even ones I like – to be the end all be all of statutory interpretation.  Indeed – who moderates the moderator if THEY’RE wrong?

And in any event, it is the debate opponent who is responsible for responding and rebutting.  The ONLY thing an active moderator can do is cover for a weak candidate, and impart their own spin, intentionally or not.  Moderation is NOT participation, and the two roles should not intrude upon one another.  Lincoln and Douglas didn’t use moderators, and neither do today’s high school debaters.  Presidential candidates can be expected to meet that standard as well.

We’ll get started in a few minutes – keep it here for the best, not-limited-to-140 instant punditry you can get without paying someone better!

Tags: Campaign '12