Belmont Club

Biden vs. Ryan

Open thread. Let’s see how the Democratic pundits think this is going down.

Bill Maher ‏@billmaher
Biden is hitting in one answer all the things Obama left out in the entire first 90 minute debate

Andrew Sullivan ‏@sullydish
Biden should not smile condescendingly when Ryan lies. But he’s calm, clear & forceful – more authoritative than Ryan:


Michael Moore ‏@MMFlint
Biden: “I love Bibi more than you love Bibi!”

David Gregory ‏@davidgregory
Advantage here is for Biden. Swarming Ryan. Throwing a lot of punches. Talking a lot. Debating.

Basically they think that Biden is doing a lot better than Ryan. So the Democrats are happy that their debater has a pulse.

James Taranto ‏@jamestaranto
Is it just me or is Biden really rude? #2012 @andyrNYT

Chris Rock ‏@chrisrockoz
The real winner of this debate so far is Joe Biden’s Regis Smile sponsored by Crest White Strips. #vpdebates

Peter Beinart ‏@PeterBeinart
think biden might actually punch him?

msnbc ‏@msnbc
Seems like debate prep for Biden involved them telling him to just interrupt Ryan as much as possible, like a guy in a bar. #msnbc2012

The Democratic debate strategy was apparently to put on a show in which Biden would visually dominate Ryan. This will have two effects. The first is it will convince the Democrats that they “won” the debate. But it will probably not convince anyone else. On the contrary, Biden seems to have infuriated all the conservatives who were watching the proceedings. The basic effect of the Biden-Ryan debate on the Democrats is to reassure themselves that they are not sissies.

Biden is doing a war chant for the benefit of the base. They are making the poor old man dance. From some of the tweets, you get the sense that Biden is taking the act a little too far, past eccentric and into gibbering.


Chris Rock ‏@chrisrockoz
Joe Biden should just reach over and slap Ryan in the face and say ‘Don’t forget, Osama Bin Laden is Dead, General Motors is alive’ #debate

VANITY FAIR ‏@VanityFair
Biden now calls Romney his “friend.” What do you think Biden thinks the definition of “friend” is?

Markos Moulitsas ‏@markos
Funny seeing manly-men conservatives whining that Biden is being too rough and aggressive.

How will this net out? Biden will have not have succeeded in showing Ryan to be unworthy, a bully, unstatesmanlike, or arrogant — that was the principal pitfall that Ryan sought to avoid. But Biden might have convinced enough conservatives that he is a buffoon. The Democrats must be thoroughly demoralized if they found that spectacle bracing. My guess is that Biden has brought the president no net gain.

The image that almost immediately came to mind was that of the berserker. “Emphasis has been placed on the frenzied nature of the berserkers, hence the modern sense of the word ‘berserk.’ However, the sources describe several other characteristics that have been ignored or neglected by modern commentators. Snorri’s assertion that ‘neither fire nor iron told upon them’ is reiterated time after time, and the sources frequently state that neither edged weapons nor fire affected the berserks, although they were not immune to clubs or other blunt instruments.” Fighting a berserker is hard. Paul Ryan could conceivably have shouted back at Biden, grinned, and leaped up and down.


The Roman method for handling a berserker attack was to receive their charge and defeat them in depth. It’s not clear that Ryan accomplished that, but that may have essentially been his goal. Biden needed to break Ryan and he did not. The video images generated by both sides will be used for ads in the days to come. So while Biden may have heartened Andrew Sullivan, that falls short of what he needed to do.

So did Biden take the hill?

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