Biden Pops and Pummels To Win Debate
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 10:10
Watching Joe Biden’s vice presidential debate performance was like watching a drawn-out game of whack-a-mole. The chuckles, the smirks, the eye rolling and the interruptions, repeatedly disrupted the flow of questioning and opposing candidate Paul Ryan’s responses.
Biden would jump into the conversation with “a distraction” only to be whacked down by moderator Martha Raddatz.
Initially, I thought Biden’s “pop-ups” were harming his credibility. His performance was borderline obnoxious, and few listen to loud-mouths.
A week after the debate, I think the opposite. I am convinced that Biden’s feisty performance adds to his credibility as a candidate and as an expert debater.
First, Biden understood both his and his opponent’s views. He knew how to defend his boss’ record, and when to deflect Ryan’s barbs with minimal discomfort. Simultaneously, Biden revealed the rather wobbly underbelly of Ryan’s arguments. He did so by constantly fact-checking Ryan’s points with a variety of disbelieving gestures, statistics and data. It was clear that Biden had prepared for this debate; it was a treat to watch him spar with Ryan.
Throughout the debate Biden appeared credible. He did so by defending his infamous “gaffes.” It was Ryan who reminded Biden of his past verbal slips. Biden responded “but I always say what I mean.” Inadvertently, Ryan highlighted Biden’s enduring honesty. Why else would he say those tactless comments, unless he really meant them? A large chunk of a candidate’s credibility stems from whether voters believe they are honest.
I may not always agree with the content of what Biden is saying, but for the most part, I trust that he truly believes it.
He looked and acted the part of a vice president. He had a commanding presence on stage and appeared unperturbed by hard questions and a surprisingly adequate opponent. Yes, Biden already is the vice president, thank you Captain Obvious, but he did not rely on his past four years of experience. Never mind, he has already done the job; he showed us he has the ability to do it again.
Biden looked like he did not want to be anywhere else but on that stage. Perhaps this should be taken as a slight compliment to the audience, he was not only obliged to be there, but he had a desire to as well. More importantly, it is fun to watch someone else have fun. Biden did not appear tense or agitated. He was reveling in a good debate.
As to his credibility as an excellent debater, Biden’s past and present success are greatly owed to an earlier reason I argued. He enjoys doing it! The distractions I was complaining about earlier do not display his unprofessional performance, but his passion for the topics being debated.
Biden spoke eloquently and forcefully, dividing his time between Raddatz and the cameras. His body language — the hand gestures, smirking and disbelieving laughs — was unstudied and natural. There was nothing artificial about the technique of Biden’s performance. He was expressing what he believed.
For those who found Biden’s performance too distracting, all I can say is, can you blame the man? The Obama-Biden ticket was in cardiac arrest before Biden stepped on stage. The vice-presidential debate was conceivably the Democrats’ last chance to rejuvenate their flagging campaign. With that context, Biden was in the right.
I do not agree with a lot of what both candidates were supporting. I suspect they both have scales under their suits. Setting that aside, with a week’s perspective I realize that I cannot remember all of the debate points, but I can vividly recall Biden with his devilish grin jutting into the conversation refusing to be beat down.