Barb Caffrey's Blog

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Archive for October 11th, 2012

Vice Presidential Debate: My Assessment

with 6 comments

After listening to tonight’s Vice Presidential, one thing is clear: both current Vice President Joe Biden (D) and United States Representative Paul Ryan (R), who is the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, are thoughtful and articulate individuals.

However, everything else depends on context, to wit:

1) Did you expect Biden to lay an egg?  If so, Biden is your clear winner because he didn’t do this.

2) Did you expect Ryan to lay an egg?  If so, Ryan is your clear winner, because he also didn’t do this.

Or to put it another way — if you were expecting a game-changer, you didn’t get it.  Instead, you got two impassioned individuals who are well-versed in both domestic and foreign policy (Ryan was surprisingly well-versed; I know Ryan well as he’s my U.S. Rep.) and managed to make most of their points.

Since I wasn’t really expecting much from either candidate, I was pleasantly surprised with both.

Pluses for Biden: he was much more articulate and much more forceful in this debate than he was in 2008 against Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska.

Minus for Biden: he interrupted Ryan.  (A lot.)

Bottom line for Biden: he made the points he wanted to make.  And of course Biden sounded like he could do the job of President, should it ever fall to him, as Biden sounded much better in this debate than President Obama did last week.

Pluses for Ryan: he sounded like he knew what he was talking about, and sounded like he’d make a good Vice President.  That he also sounded like he’d be a loyal lieutenant for Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney was a bonus, especially due to past media coverage that had depicted a strain between Romney and Ryan.  Best of all for Ryan, he seemed like he’d be capable and confident if he ever had to step in to the job of President.

Minuses for Ryan: he didn’t have the specifics he needed regarding the new health care plan (“Obamacare”) and he also didn’t have the specifics regarding Romney’s proposed tax plan, which purports to cut most loopholes yet raise more money.  This seems like a logical impossibility on its face, and Ryan certainly wasn’t able to make it sound any better.  And he, too, interrupted Biden — a lot.

Bottom line for Ryan: he did well, and made the points he wanted to make.  But for a policy wonk like Ryan to not be able to make numerical points is a bit troubling, as that’s something Ryan should know in his sleep as he’s on the House Ways and Means Committee (and has been for over ten years).

My view: Biden stayed more on point despite having less time to make his points (as Ryan tended to give lengthy answers).   And as I had half-expected Biden to lay a huge egg — as Biden can be scattershot in his approach, which doesn’t always lend itself to either interviews or debates — I have to admit that I found Biden’s poise and confidence to be quite refreshing.

My debate grades:

Joe Biden: A-minus.

Paul Ryan: B.

Which means the advantage goes to Joe Biden . . . who’d have thunk it?  (Probably not me, even though on balance I like Biden despite his scattershot approach — or maybe because of it.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 11, 2012 at 10:55 pm