As the lights dimmed, and a hush fell over the audience. Representative Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden made eye contact from across the stage and drifted toward each other, guided by the knowing hand of Martha Raddatz, the debate moderator.
Closer now, the two men smiled and embraced hands, Ryan’s free arm rising to hold his senior’s shoulder. They locked eyes and leaned in; whispering what can only be assumed as sweet nothings into each other’s ears. Reluctantly the grip was released, and the two men sat opposite.
The winner of the debate is mixed. The CNN poll had 48 percent in favor of Ryan while 44 percent chose Biden. However, it was noted that a small majority of Republicans were present that contributed to a margin of error of about five percent. CBS polling had Biden ahead with 50 percent and Ryan at 31 percent. It should be noted that CBS is also about as left as the hand I write with. So who won?
As I walked into the GSC to view the debate alongside the Augie Republicans and Democrats, I couldn’t help but feel crestfallen. After Obama’s loss to Romney in the prior debate, there was no part of me that imagined that the next hour was going to be enjoyable. Clearly this was going to be an easy Ryan victory.
Except it wasn’t. Former gaffe-machine Joe Biden awoke the morning of the debate with one focus: Brush his teeth, because he was going to be smiling a lot that day.
The first question was regarding the Benghazi terrorist attacks that happened the month prior, which resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
As the ambassador’s father told CBS that he would prefer his son’s death stay politicized, both candidates began the grieving process of acknowledging the loss of human life and blaming the opposite side for it. Ryan called it a failure of the Obama administration to provide the extra security requested while Biden countered that the congressman voted to cut embassy security budgets by $300 million (the actual number was $264 million).
The next question was regarding the unemployment rate, one of the Obama administration’s largest weak points. And yet, it was at this point that the debate eventually took a turn for Biden.
The Republican candidate quickly dug into the state of the status quo; Biden’s hometown had an unemployment rate of 10 percent when four years ago it had one of 8.5 percent.
“That’s how it’s going all around America,” Ryan said, although the national unemployment rate at the time of the debate was 7.8 percent.
Ryan dug into the stimulus plan that Biden had passed, citing numerous criminal investigations that the Department of Energy endured. He then mentioned a car crash in a canned anecdote about Romney’s personal generosity.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Biden lost his entire family sans two of his sons in a car crash. Mentioning a tragic accident ‘of a friend of a friend’ to Joe Biden is like telling Mrs. Lincoln you were upset that the usher ripped the wrong end of your ticket as you both made your way out of Ford Theatre.
But, Biden smiles. He laughs.
“I love my friend here,” Biden said in response. “He sent me two letters saying ‘By the way, can you send me some stimulus money for companies here in the state of Wisconsin? The reason we need this stimulus, it will create growth and jobs.’ His words. And now he’s sitting here looking at me.”
Biden went on. “And by the way, that program, again, investigated. What the Congress said was it was a model. Less than four-tenths of one percent waste or fraud in the program … I wish he would just tell—be a little more candid.”
The rest of the debate followed that theme with our current vice president viciously browbeating Ryan with interruptions and corrections.
Ryan managed to come ahead in word count with 7,434 words to Biden’s 7,425 according to ZeroHedge, but he was behind in speaking time by about two minutes. The final interruption tally for Ryan came to 113; 82 times by Biden, and 31 times by moderator Raddatz from statistics provided by Fox News Online. This averaged to about once every 22 seconds.
Biden left little room for discourse, and that’s conceded across party lines. At the same, this wasn’t the “Vice-Presidential-Hold-Hands-and-Sing-Kumbaya” marathon either.
From a debater’s perspective, Biden was overly aggressive ,but Ryan’s failure to stand his ground gave the victory to the democrats. From the average Ryan fan, Biden was a bully, and the debate didn’t have a winner. From my perspective, it made for delightful reality T.V.