I’ll huff and I’ll puff till I blow your house in! Like the big bad wolf in the fairy tale The Three Little Pigs, Vice President Joe Biden thought he’d huff all over Representative Paul Ryan in the only vice-presidential debate. But between Biden’s snickers, interruptions, and finger pointing at Ryan, Biden demonstrated why President Obama’s agenda is “not working.”
Maintaining a cool demeanor, filled with smiles throughout, Ryan kicked off the debate by assailing Obama’s handling of the terror attack in Libya. From then on, Ryan put mad Joe on the defensive, hitting him with fact after fact how Obama and his skipper Biden have failed America at home and abroad.
ABC News moderator Martha Raddatz’s first question, “Wasn’t [Libya] a massive intelligence failure?” To which Biden spewed the same talking points White House spokesperson Jay Carney regurgitated in a briefing a day earlier. Even though the day before the debate, State Department officials testified before Congress the attack that killed four diplomats was planned, Biden stood by the administration’s initial claim they thought it was a protest.
Instead of answering the Libya question, Biden drifted into Obama’s “resume” on foreign policy Osama bin Laden is dead, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. When the question turned to Ryan, he launched into a punishing narrative on Obama’s mishandling of the Libya attack. Ryan said the president jumped the gun, badly. Not only did America’s United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice first blame the Benghazi attack on a protest and the YouTube anti-Muslim video, he said, but “it took president two weeks to call this a terrorist attack and he mentioned the YouTube video six times in his UN speech.”
Ryan said Romney and he would “call it for what it is a terror attack.” “First, they blame the YouTube video,” Ryan said of the Obama administration. “Now they’re trying to blame the Romney Ryan ticket for making this an issue,” he added.
In a final indictment of Obama’s record abroad, Ryan pointedly said: “What we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy, which is making the world chaotic and us less safe.”
Raddatz then grilled Ryan about the appropriateness of Mitt Romney issuing a statement condemning the administration’s initial response to the Cairo protest, which the US embassy also blamed on the video then “disavowed” the claim.
In response to other questions on foreign policy, Ryan reminded us Obama stood on the sidelines while Iran rigged its 2009 elections, President Assad butchered Syrians and the US gave Russia veto power to allow the carnage. When Biden interrupted, asking Ryan what he would do differently, Ryan calmly replied, “We wouldn’t be outsourcing our foreign policy to the United Nations.”
A bellicose Biden then stupidly told Ryan “Russia has a different interest in Syria than we do.” Correct, Russia is arming Assad and allowing him to continue his reign of terror and, as Ryan added, Romney wouldn’t have waited for Russia to give the “green light” before acting.
After Ryan’s salvos, Biden’s huffing and puffing ensued, peppered with incessant interruptions of Ryan. Biden accused Ryan of “spouting a bunch of malarkey” because “not a single thing he said was accurate.” It took only seven minutes into the debate for Biden to call Ryan a liar. When asked to be specific, Biden said the media panned Romney’s statement on Cairo. Sorry Joe, that doesn’t mean it’s not credible just because the liberal media said it wasn’t cool.
When questioned further about security at the Benghazi consulate, Biden said, “we weren’t told [diplomats] wanted more security.” This is not true because Ambassador Christopher Stevens expressed concerns over security and State Department and military officials testified before Congress to that effect.
ABC News moderator Martha Raddatz came to Biden’s defense throughout, allowing Biden to continually interrupt Ryan with fits of frustration and asides like a fool in one of Shakespeare’s comedies. Every time Ryan pointed out Obama’s failures over the last four years, Raddatz would interrupt him, asking, “What would you do differently.” She never asked Biden that.
On Iran, Biden said Obama has done everything he said was going do, including forcing Russia and China to put pressure on Iran. And this has worked how? Ryan said when Obama was elected Iran had enough material to make one bomb now they have enough to make five. The UN issued sanctions against Iran only after Russia watered them down, said Ryan.
Biden said the sanctions have been crippling to Iran. But they haven’t deterred Iran from pursuing it nuclear ambitions. Smiling, Ryan said the only thing Ayatollahs see is Obama putting distance between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and going on a talk show in New York City instead of meeting with our ally Israel.
Responding to what Romney would do differently, Ryan said they would demonstrate credibility to Iran that America means what it says. Laughing out loud, Biden got angrier and more condescending as Ryan methodically deconstructed Obama’s failures on foreign policy.
On domestic policy, Biden said he “didn’t know how long it would take to get unemployment” under 6% and continued to push the same failed strategies of spending, Obama has pursued for four years. Biden invoked Bush blame, Romney tax cuts for the rich, and fair share talk – Obama’s Robin Hood policies of taking from the wealthy to pay for middle class prosperity.
When Biden said Republicans should take responsibility, Ryan blasted Biden for life under Obama, chronic high unemployment, and lifeless economic growth. He outlined Romney’s plan to create 12 million jobs and getting people off government dependency into the working class. Answering Biden’s dig at Romney’s 47% remark, Ryan joked “with respect to that quote, I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.” A reference to Biden’s many gaffes.
On Medicare and Social Security, Biden said even in the face of these entitlement programs facing bankruptcy within the next 5-10 years, Obama refused make any substantive changes. Ryan talked about a Medicare reform plan where younger people could take advantage of premium support that increases coverage for sicker and poorer folks, which current members of Congress and federal workers use for their healthcare. Biden tried to make the word “change” evil as Ryan talked about Romney’s plan to change Social Security and Medicare in order to save both from bankruptcy.
On taxes, Biden repeated Obama’s calls for the rich to pay more in taxes while Obama continues his binge spending. As Biden huffed, Ryan pointed out, reminded him the Obama could impose a 100% tax on businesses making over $250,000 and only keep government running for 98 days. Alternatively, Ryan said Romney’s tax reform plan is designed to lower taxes by 20% for all and deny loopholes and deductions to the wealthy to raise government revenue.
Interrupting, Biden charged Romney’s tax plan wasn’t “mathematically possible” even though the American Enterprise Institute and others have said it is. Biden even repeated Obama’s meme that Romney’s plan would add $5 trillion to the deficit even though his campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki denounced it as wrong.
Though Biden insisted lowering taxes and increasing revenues has never been done before, Ryan reminded Biden that previous presidents like Reagan and Kennedy had done it. “You guys aren’t used to doing bipartisan deals,” said Ryan but we work with Congress on the details of a tax reform plan.
Nearly an hour into the debate, Biden’s remarks degenerated into a series of loud outbursts at Ryan. But the boyish Ryan eloquently boiled down the problem with Obama. “Leaders run to problems to fix problems,” he said, but President Obama gives speeches instead of “credible plans.” Ryan got two budgets passed in the House. Obama has done nothing but spend.
Though Biden repeatedly referred to Ryan “as his friend,” Biden treated Ryan more like an enemy combatant rather than a competitor. Begging for equal time and sneering was Biden’s debate strategy. This was not becoming behavior for a Vice President of the United States but this is what a person does when they are losing the debate. The polls will reveal that voters found Biden abrasive and Ryan leader like. Stay tuned.