Thursday, October 11, 2012


Dave Weigel thinks people are underestimating Joe Biden's debate skills. I agree. I watched a bit of the 2008 Biden/Palin debate (YouTube here), and Biden didn't just benefit from having a weak, immature, uninformed opponent -- in what I watched, he made a strong, aimed-at-the-heart New Deal-ish case for Democratic policies. Maybe the Obama administration hasn't lived up to Biden's words, but they were inspiring words:
...Well Gwen, where I come from, it's called fairness, just simple fairness. The middle class is struggling. The middle class under John McCain's tax proposal, 100 million families, middle class families, households to be precise, they got not a single change, they got not a single break in taxes. No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama's plan will see one single penny of their tax raised whether it's their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax. And 95 percent of the people in the United States of America making less than $150,000 will get a tax break.

Now, that seems to me to be simple fairness. The economic engine of America is middle class. It's the people listening to this broadcast. When you do well, America does well. Even the wealthy do well. This is not punitive. John wants to add $300 million, billion in new tax cuts per year for corporate America and the very wealthy while giving virtually nothing to the middle class. We have a different value set. The middle class is the economic engine. It's fair. They deserve the tax breaks, not the super wealthy who are doing pretty well. They don't need any more tax breaks. And by the way, they'll pay no more than they did under Ronald Reagan.
As Weigel says, "Really, whenever an issue can be mined for pathos, Biden thrives.... Biden can brag in detail about Democratic bills like they're his grown children heading off for college." Weigel cites answers from Biden Senate debates that make issues vivid. ("If you get here, within three months you'll have to vote on this. Will you vote yes on a Constitutional amendment to ban abortion?” Or, in response to his opponent's proposal to privatize veterans' services: "'Unlike any other section of the economy, we guaranTEE the veterans,' he said, flashing his teeth on the exaggerated final syllable. 'GuaranTEE a contract for their health care. Is the private market going to guaranTEE that?'")

So I think Biden could be the Romney of this debate: the guy who's not polling well, but who surprises a lot of people by seeming to have the right ideas and empathy. Except that Biden won't be faking.


His opponent is Paul Ryan, whom Ezra Klein has interview a number of times. Ryan's going to struggle to avoid being the statistics-spouter with what seem to be all the answers, although not everyone can figure out what he's saying:
Ryan's smart, and he's quick, and he's heard most of what you have to say before.... He's sufficiently engaged in the policy conversation that he knows both the arguments for and the arguments against his positions.

That's not to say he always has good answers for them. I remember walking away from our first debate somewhat confused. The deeper we drilled into the regulations in Ryan's plan, the more they sounded like the very plans he was arguing against.

For instance, he didn't like that in Obamacare, "You're having a person design how insurance can be sold." Then how does his plan make sure people aren't sold defective products? "In the Patient's Choice Act, we do an actuarially equivalent minimum in each exchange that's equal to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Standard Option." Well, isn't that pretty much what Obamacare does?
So he's full of it and he speaks Wonk when he needs to speak English. People might think he's smart, but they might just think he has no feelings. (No one's going to say that about Biden.)

So could it be the approximate reverse of last week's presidential debate, with Biden realer than Romney, and Ryan far faker than the sincere but uninspired Obama, and a lot wonkier? Maybe.

(Ezra Klein link via Memeorandum.)


Victor said...

Paulie’s handlers are spending the day coating him in a specially designed lubricant made out of a careful blend of fat from dead harpooned whales, squeezed spotted owls, and clubbed baby seals, because they know that a greased weasel is tough enough to corner, and damn near impossible to catch.

Plus, it gives his beautiful head of hair a nice sheen.

Oh, and those pec's and that 6 pack! I won't be surprised if he strips his shirt off and poses for the ladies.

Steve M. said...

Regarding "Charles Atlas" Ryan, you'll enjoy this.

Victor said...

Oh, I'm sure the Log Cabin boys are taking turns with taking the bottle of Jergens to the mens room.

Steve M. said...

I don't know if anyone finds those pictures stimulating, except the Beltway media.

Kathy said...

Steve, The link now says viewing the profile is restricted to members only. Guess I'll have to skip the fun. :-)

Steve M. said...

Well, here's part of it.