Saturday, October 13, 2012

Biden vs. Ryan: An Analysis

It was a historic debate on various counts.  Catholic versus Catholic, the first time a vice presidential challenger tied/bested an incumbent vice president, et cetera.  And since I have not found news articles that express what I think about this particular debate I will just have to supply one. 

Firstly, let's discuss style.  Biden did indeed, as Ryan predicted, come in like a cannonball.  No one doubts that he dominated the debate floor.  But while he may have thought the ends justified the means, his continued impersonation of the Cheshire Cat came across to any mature, intelligent viewer as, as Ryan put it a man "under duress."  Stylistically Ryan took the floor and maintained it with a set expression of resolution that Biden only troubled for a brief, passing moment in the heat of his 83 interruptions.  Ryan came to the floor equipped with a proverbial cookie jar filled to the brim of one liners.  My personal favorite was in response to Biden's attack of the notorious 47% comment made by Governor Romney.  Ryan leaned in closely with a glint in his eye and a confident smile on his lips and reminded the vice president that words don't always come out your mouth the way you intend.  Sparkling.  It was obviously prepared and rehearsed and the final execution was nothing short of glorious.

As to substance, I think it safe to say both held their own.  Ryan surprised everyone with his knowledge of Afghanistan and Biden's performance was stellar in a plethora of ways.  However, Biden's supposed fact checking Ryan led the White House scrambling the next day to back up these new facts Biden had apparently invented.  But that is part of the political game.

I was particularly impressed with both their answers to the question regarding  Catholicism and abortion.  Biden did a fabulous job in pointing out that as a vice president he may hold his own religious beliefs but shall not seek to force others to share them.   Touche.  I appreciate that.  Well put.  And by the way, it was also excellently and eloquently executed.  Ryan made his answer more personal, as requested, and gave an answer that was both religious and political.  He indicated his own belief that life begins with conception and then pivoted to make it clear that abortion would be allowed in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother.  Biden held to his devotion to the country.  Appropriate.  Ryan held to his loyalty to his God.  That's a higher loyalty than to country.  Catholicism has lived long enough to watch empires crumble and countries become obsolete.  Both were good answers but one was absolutely fearless. 

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