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The most difficult part of the sole vice presidential debate of 2012 was for GOP vice presidential challenger Paul Ryan not to appear like a bully, and he accomplished that goal superbly. It would have been so easy for Ryan to come across as no-less-than a bully by demeaning and criticizing the sitting vice president due to the troublesome Obama-presidency record Biden had to defend.
Somewhat disappointingly, Ryan didn’t nail it as many had hoped he would. If anything, he was too polite by practically allowing Biden to continually interrupt him in a rude and arrogant fashion throughout the debate. Of the two options – one, Ryan being as rude as Biden was, or two, allowing Biden to continue to condescendingly interrupt – it may have been better if Ryan had treated Biden as he was being treated by expressing rudeness as well – if for no other reason than to be able to complete more valuable thoughts without being interrupted.
On Vice President Joe Biden’s part, he likely thought he would be excused – due to his “Grandpa Joe” image and comparative age to the much-younger Ryan – for being extremely bully-like, condescending, and being the continual rude-interrupter throughout the debate. An ABC talk radio host quoted a figure which counted 85 interruptions by Biden while Ryan was trying to speak which equates to nearly one interruption per minute in the 90 minute debate.
Joe Biden, on the one hand, entered the debate being labeled “a real nice guy” and “a family man” who has years of “experience in debating”. On the other hand, he was also expected to drop at least one major gaffe. The Democrats were blessed with Biden having a fairly decent night in terms of the gaffes that didn’t formalize. But again, his constant rude interruptions which he likely thought showed him to be boldly aggressive was, instead, extremely non-vice presidential and disappointed to those who hoped to see the sitting vice president perform more statesman-like.
Beyond Biden’s disturbingly non-professional demeanor throughout the debate, he caused major concerns and some controversies, especially when he repeated his contention that he’s a strong Catholic, yet admitted that he’s basically selling his moral soul in the name of his political party. He should have known the abortion issue was going to be raised and should have better prepared to explain his position versus his alleged lifelong Catholic status.
Additionally, his near-denial that Iran and its alleged nuclear weaponry could be of concern to the United States is tremendously disconcerting. Beyond the vice president’s near-denial, he tended to disrespectfully smirk and laugh at the serious situation regarding Iran’s nuclear warfare concern.
Many persons absolutely do not want to see a man with such an uncompromising nature accompanied with a severe-condescending tone sitting one seat away from the presidency as he has for the past four years.
All in all, the vice presidential debate made great television. The two candidates’ sparring over taxes, Syria, health care and more are necessary topics to be sparred during these final weeks before the election as they show the stark differences between the two political parties. After this debate, people are now thinking about and talking about some of the important issues – likely more than they were talking about after the comparatively-subdued presidential debate performed eight days ago.
Both candidates did what they had set out to do. Biden reached out to his base, and Ryan spoke to those who don’t like the direction the country is headed. Republicans are likely not happy that Ryan didn’t deliver the knock-out debate Mitt Romney did a week ago while Democrats are, as previously stated, ecstatic Biden didn’t have a bad night.
Like the first poll after the debate, I’d give Ryan the edge – not a huge win, but an edge. The initial poll conducted by CNN after the debate revealed that, of the people who watched the entire debate, 48% believe Ryan won and 44% believe Biden won.
About Scott Paulson
Scott Paulson writes political commentary for Examiner.com and teaches English at a community college in the Chicago area. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.