In at least one important sense, Biden won the debate

Pondering the vice presidential debate this morning after a good night’s sleep, I’ve decided that Joe Biden got the better of the battle in one overriding respect:

Paul Ryan’s performance, while at least acceptable to Republican partisans, did little or nothing to advance the GOP ticket’s cause beyond the gains made by Mitt Romney in his debate last week with Barack Obama.

But Biden, on the other hand, seems to have stanched the bleeding suffered by the Democratic ticket after Obama’s listless performance against Romney. Hence, advantage Biden.

Then, too, as Steve Benen acutely OBSERVES:

[T]he Democratic post-debate message was that Joe Biden scored a clear win; the Republican message was that Joe Biden was too mean to Paul Ryan. The former is a boast of success; the latter is an excuse for failure.

Benen also notes:

CBS News did a poll of undecided voters who thought Biden won by a fairly large margin, but they also reached an even more interesting conclusion: whereas before the debate, these voters thought Ryan was better prepared to serve as an effective president, after the debate, the results flipped in Biden’s favor.



  1. You must only listen to MSNBC, huh Pat? Even CNN declared Ryan the winner. Biden’s snickering and interruptions were inappropriate and disrespectful, not very vice presidential. Being an asshole does not make this a noble win. I think you need to go back to bed and get some more sleep.

  2. Peggy Noona, as she usually does, has a nice analysis.


    There were fireworks all the way, and plenty of drama. Each candidate could claim a win in one area or another, but by the end it looked to me like this: For the second time in two weeks, the Democrat came out and defeated himself. In both cases the Republican was strong and the Democrat somewhat disturbing.

    Another way to say it is the old man tried to patronize the kid and the kid stood his ground. The old man pushed, and the kid pushed back.

    Last week Mr. Obama was weirdly passive. Last night Mr. Biden was weirdly aggressive, if that is the right word for someone who grimaces, laughs derisively, interrupts, hectors, rolls his eyes, browbeats and attempts to bully. He meant to dominate, to seem strong and no-nonsense. Sometimes he did—he had his moments. But he was also disrespectful and full of bluster. “Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy!” he snapped at one point. It was an echo of Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle, in 1988. But Mr. Quayle, who had compared himself to Kennedy, had invited the insult. Mr. Ryan had not. It came from nowhere. Did Mr. Biden look good? No, he looked mean and second-rate. He meant to undercut Mr. Ryan, but he undercut himself. His grimaces and laughter were reminiscent of Al Gore’s sighs in 2000—theatrical, off-putting and in the end self-indicting.


    I have just realized the problem with the debate: it was the weird distance between style and content, and the degree to which Mr. Biden’s style poisoned his content.

    In terms of content—the seriousness and strength of one’s positions and the ability to argue for them—the debate was probably a draw, with both candidates having strong moments. But in terms of style, Mr. Biden was so childishly manipulative that it will be surprising if independents and undecideds liked what they saw.

    National Democrats keep confusing strength with aggression and command with sarcasm. Even the latter didn’t work for Mr. Biden. The things he said had the rhythm and smirk of sarcasm without the cutting substance.

  3. Craig Knauss

    Biden clearly won the debate. I don’t know what these two were watching. And danimal calling anyone else an a-hole is pretty absurd.

    Yeah, Biden sometimes snickered. I did too when I listened to Ryan trying to discuss Iran and fissile material. It’s obvious that Ryan knows nothing about either one. The last I heard on the matter, Iran was trying to achieve 60% enrichment of uranium. At 60%, they’re a long way from making a bomb. That’s more like naval reactor fuel for our submarines. Bomb material has to be 80% enrichment as a bare minimum. And we go considerably higher than that. Commercial power plant fuel is about 20% enriched, but higher enrichment is needed to start the reactors.

  4. danimal: Your language is slightly over the line. Don’t let it happen again. And don’t argue with me about this. Any such argument will result in your banishment. It’s my blog, and I make the rules.

  5. This is what Ryan said:

    “RYAN: We cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability. Now, let’s take a look at where we’ve gone — come from. When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material — nuclear material to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They’re racing toward a nuclear weapon. They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability.

    We’ve had four different sanctions, the U.N. on Iran, three from the Bush administration, one here. And the only reason we got it is because Russia watered it down and prevented the — the sanctions from hitting the central bank.

    Mitt Romney proposed these sanctions in 2007. In Congress, I’ve been fighting for these sanctions since 2009. The administration was blocking us every step of the way. Only because we had strong bipartisan support for these tough sanctions were we able to overrule their objections and put them in spite of the administration.

    Imagine what would have happened if we had these sanctions in place earlier. You think Iran’s not brazen? Look at what they’re doing. They’re stepping up their terrorist attacks. They tried a terrorist attack in the United States last year when they tried to blow up the Saudi ambassador at a restaurant ……

  6. And here is a CNN fact check on the topic.


    The facts:

    Iran has greatly expanded its ability to produce nuclear fuel in the past four years, revealing a second uranium enrichment plant in 2009 and continuing to defy U.N. demands that it halt work until questions about its intentions are resolved.

    A bit of tech talk here: About three-quarters of 1% of naturally occurring uranium is uranium-235, the radioactive isotope used to produce a nuclear reaction. To produce fuel for nuclear power plants, that concentration has to be increased to 3 to 5%, while research reactors use fuel with a U-235 concentration of about 20%. To make a nuclear weapon, that concentration has to be increased to more than 90%.

    As of May, Iran had produced about 6,200 kilograms (13,640 pounds) of power plant-grade uranium and 146 kilograms (320 pounds) of fuel at 20% concentration, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

    Based on those figures, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, estimated that Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for five nuclear bombs. The organization, led by former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright, says Iran could build a crude bomb with 20-25 kg (44-55 pounds) of highly enriched uranium.

  7. I am sorry Pat, I apologize for using that language and I promise that it will not happen again, but I can not apologize for my message. Biden was atrociously rude and condescending with both interruptions and mannerisms.

  8. danimal: Apology accepted.

    But let me explain something about profanity on this blog:

    At the top of this page, it says: “The language gets a litttle salty on some of the sites to which this blog links. So, don’t say you weren’t warned.”

    Indeed, I sometimes link to stuff that includes F-bombs and other such vulgarities. But in my own posts, the language doesn’t get much saltier than an occasional “crapola.” Nor do I allow really profane language from commenters.

    It isn’t that I’m prudish or that I don’t use vulgar language in my private conversations. It’s just that this is the Web site of a family newspaper, and I try to adhere to language standards that are suitable for such an enterprise.

    Those standards also preclude the use of certain words for racial minorities, women and gays.

    Incidentally, you should see the language in some of comments that never get past the moderation stage here. Vulgar with a capital “V” — not to mention some of the racist, sexist and homophobic stuff.

  9. Craig Knauss


    What’s your point? I said Iran is getting close to 60% enrichment. I said they need over 80% enrichment to reach weapons grade. As your one pasted line states, they need about 90% to have an effective weapon. They’re not there yet, no matter how much unranium they have. However, they can make power plant fuel. And power plants require a higher enrichment to start a reactor. That fuel is removed at the first scheduled fuel outage. Also, there’s more to a nuclear weapon than highly enriched uranium. That’s where triggering, geometry, etc. come in in order to reach critical mass. The lower the enrichment, the more uranium is required to reach critial mass. But there is a point where critical mass cannot even be achieved. I suggest you rent “Fat Man and Little Boy”. It will teach you a lot about this.

    I’m no expert on this, but I’ve been involved in nuclear energy for 22 years now at 4 DOE sites and at least 10 nuclear power plants.

  10. You are much more of an expert than I am, that’s for sure.

    The point is that the Iranians continue to move along the path toward building a nuclear weapon despite our “tough sanctions”.


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