Biden wins VP debate, Ryan gulps water

VP debate: Biden wins, Ryan gulps water


C-Span is great. A recommendation for future debate watchers: C-Span is the way to go. Public broadcasting is the way to go. They’re the channels for navigating between the false split-the-dif mindset on the networks, on one hand, and the self-caressing party-time mindset on cable, on the other.

As to last night’s vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan, you can tell that the Democrats won when commentator-propagandists like WashPost’s Dan Balz call it a ‘draw’. It will be interesting to know where Mitt Romney stands on further benefits (styled ‘education reform’, aka standardized testing) to Kaplan Inc., the Washington Post Co. subsidiary so large it has all but subsumed the parent corporation.*

Signs of the times

But enough said on the horse race.

As to my question in yesterday’s post—whether Ryan would say anything clarifying Romney–Ryan gave a couple of answers relating to abortion.

1)      Speaking for a Romney-Ryan administration, Ryan said, “We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision.” Seems pretty definitive, that Romney would push legislation and regulations–but does not preclude appointing anti-abortion judges, though it does not promise to do so.

2)      Ryan said clearly that a Romney-Ryan administration would oppose all abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is at stake. This one, assuming it’s accurate, is newly definitive—and another shift of position–though it leaves cases of the mother’s health, in any situation short of death’s-door, unresolved.


Chart: deductions

Notably, Ryan still did not address the question of the mortgage interest deduction. Even when asked directly by moderator Martha Raddatz whether the budget “loopholes” Ryan referred to several times would include the mortgage interest deduction, the congressman ducked.

Somewhat more clearly, Ryan did attack Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, accusing him of “equivocation.”

Interesting choice of words, given the source. Ryan reassured the public several times that “we” “agreed” with the Obama administration on foreign policy choices—even while criticizing the choices. He also criticized the administration for an alleged lack of clarity in foreign policy, either omitting or indirectly acknowledging that strategy and tactics sometimes demand some tacking.

A lot of GOPers fall into that one. The blood-thirstiest ones never seem to recall that it might be wise not to give potential attackers a road map.


President and Mrs. Reagan, 1983

Meanwhile, Ryan’s repeated references to “Marines” re Benghazi were an unhappy reminder of the Marine barracks in Beirut.

Back to that channel-selection guide, up top. A very few minutes’ worth of cable commentary last night was enough to convey that too many commentators a) focused on their notion of ‘style’; b) used ‘style’ as a tool for the usual double-standarding; and c) didn’t bother about accuracy. Biden’s mocking smile was criticized. Ryan’s doing the same thing was not.

Ryan’s smile wasn’t as broad.

Oddly, given the way some of the tea-leaf readers home in on the smallest detail, no one noticed that Congressman Ryan gulped water some ten times in the debate. Or at least that’s my count, according to my notes. The first time was at the beginning; he kept returning to that life-giving fluid at tense moments; and he ceased only when the end was in sight.

Update Friday:

None of the on-air commentary I caught mentioned Ryan’s need for lots of water, but I am not the only person who saw it. So did Bill Maher and others; see thread.


*I was the sole journalist in the DC region who reported the Post Co.’s financial stake in GWBush’s ‘education reforms’ under the Bush administration. Neither the ‘left’ nor the ‘right’ picked it up and shared the information with the broader public. Nor did the Washington Post newspaper.

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