Biden’s biggest weakness, apart from being the Yogi Berra of American politics—a Hall of Famer in terms of success, but a man whose foot is lodged in his esophagus—is the same as Obama’s and Al Gore’s: they’re at their best when they’re in a friendly crowd. Compare the Barack Obama of the debate to the Barack Obama the following morning in front of a rabid left-wing crowd in Colorado. They’re as different from each other as they are from the Barack Obama of the Selma speech and the Hampton College speech. Obama is most comfortable doing his Hugo Chavez impression in front of adoring college students and Hollywood celebrities; he melts when confronted by opposition, and, from how few press conferences he’s done this year (2), he feels the same way about questions.
Biden’s trademark, increasingly, is to shout at his audience. What he shouts can be incoherent garble, such as “they don’t understand us!” or “I can dream as much as any rich man can!” It doesn’t have to make sense or be relevant to the election to become the habit of a demagogue. When there are no dragons to slay, one must tilt at windmills to seem brave.
How will this Biden fare on a quiet stage across from a mild-mannered, self-effacing Midwesterner? It’s hard to fight a straw man when there’s flesh and blood right across from you.
Ryan will prove to be not only a bold choice by Mitt Romney, but evidence of Governor Romney’s wise judgment. Had he not chosen Ryan, Ryan would be the bogeyman he is on the Left for the entire country. But now, with the country seeing Paul Ryan, hearing him speak directly to them, he is harder to slander.
Ryan will win, but it won’t be the blowout that conservatives are giddy for. Biden is preparing hard, and Ryan has never debated on this stage before. Ryan is a Congressman representing a tiny Midwestern district; this is a big jump for him.
I predict another 1-point bounce for Romney after Thursday night.