New York Times Editorial on Ryan / Biden Debate…
Worth the read…Biden did the job he had to do, and I for one, am pleased with that!
Thursday night’s vice-presidential debate was one of the best and meatiest political conversations in many years, showing that real differences on public policy can be discussed with fervor, anger, laughter and real substance. In contrast to the dismal meeting last week between President Obama and Mitt Romney, this debate gave voters a chance to evaluate the positions of the two tickets, in part because Representative Paul Ryan’s nonanswers were accurate reflections of his campaign.
Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. would not sit still for a parade of misleading and often blatantly untruthful descriptions of the state of the economy and the Republican prescriptions for it. Though his grins and head-shakes were often distracting, he did not hesitate to interrupt and demand an end to “malarkey.” The result, expertly controlled by the moderator, Martha Raddatz of ABC News, was both entertaining and enlightening.
Mr. Ryan, as always, refused to acknowledge the improvement in the economy, at one point throwing out a canned talking point about the increase in unemployment in the depressed industrial city of Scranton, Pa., Mr. Biden’s hometown. “That’s how it’s going all around America,” he said, ignoring the steady reduction in the national jobless rate, which dipped to 7.8 percent last month.
“You don’t read the statistics,” Mr. Biden said, jumping in. “That’s not how it’s going. It’s going down.” He repeatedly pointed out that Mr. Romney had firmly opposed the federal bailout of the auto industry, which turned out to be the single biggest act of job creation in the last four years. Mr. Ryan responded weakly that Mr. Romney was a “car guy,” but offered little in the way of economic proposals beyond cutting taxes and ridiculing the Obama administration’s stimulus program.
The vice president, who was in charge of that program, actually defended it, breaking with his campaign’s usual reticence to discuss an enormously successful effort that, he pointed out, kept the economy from going over a cliff. And he showed Mr. Ryan’s hypocrisy on the subject by pointing out that the congressman had asked for stimulus money for his state of Wisconsin, just as other Republicans did even as they vilified the program.
Mr. Ryan’s performance on foreign affairs and military issues was at best disingenuous and at worst bumbling. He said he and Mr. Romney agreed with the administration’s planned 2014 pullout from Afghanistan but still thought it was a bad idea, a bizarre nonresponse that did little but confuse voters.
He never said what more a Romney administration would do about Syria than is already being done. And on Iran, he simply repeated Republican talking points about Mr. Obama’s “weakness” but did not say what Mr. Romney would do differently that would actually affect Iran’s nuclear program, apart from starting a war. He had no answer when the moderator asked how effective he thought military action be.
Mr. Biden refused to ignore the condescending remarks that Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney have made toward the least fortunate, regularly described by the Republican ticket as “takers” who are irresponsibly dependent on government. That attitude, he noted, is reflected in the Republican tax plan that favors the rich. In one of his most effective summaries, he said that if Republicans would just “get out of the way,” there might be real action on middle-class tax cuts, jobs bills and mortgage relief.
“Stop talking about how you care about people,” he said. “Show me something.” Mr. Ryan’s predictable response: You said the stimulus would fix the entire economy and it didn’t. But he had no responsible answer for increasing growth.
Both candidates, however, demonstrated real engagement on issues that matter. It was a real change for voters starved for substance.