The Veep Debate: Say It Ain’t So, Joe

Official presidential transitional portrait of...

Vice President Joe Biden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Campaigns, in general, and debates, in particular, are about conflict and clashing ideologies. That’s always been the nature of American politics.

And, while many Americans say they hate the conflict and attacks, we also know that it’s what sells newspapers and attracts viewers. For many people, politics is just another form of entertainment. For hard-core political junkies, campaigns are like football – a contact sport, not for sissies. If you don’t like people being beaten and bruised, then don’t watch, they might say. That’s what “Dancing With the Stars” is for. As a political junkie myself, I get that.

So, why did last night’s debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan leave me feeling so unsettled?

It wasn’t Ryan’s evasions, nor his inability to defend his and Romney’s tax plan, or his weak defense of his Medicare “voucher” scheme.

What really bothered me was Biden’s rude, comic histrionics as Ryan was speaking –- toothy (sometimes creepy) smiles, wagging his head, arching eyebrows, grumbling, grunting and interrupting more than 80 times.

Sure, Ryan was telling some whoppers, or at least shading the truth. But Biden had a full one-half of the debate to correct the record and challenge Ryan in a respectful manner. He could have made every one of his points – and they were very effective points – without behaving like a 13-year-old.

Why are so many people turned off and disgusted with our political system?

I think it’s largely because of the awful way our political leaders behave in debates on the Senate and House floors. They aren’t really debating. They’re talking past one another. Or, they are trying to score cheap points. Or, they are engaging in Biden-like histrionics that don’t begin to treat the viewers like adults capable of rational thought.

The abysmal public behavior of our politicians at all levels turns off Americans. No wonder so many don’t bother to vote. A pox on both your houses, they say.

And so, millions of people, young and old, tuned into last night’s debate, hoping to see the best of American democracy and, in the process, learn something about the two candidates’ positions on a variety of issues.

I know that one poll shows that undecided voters thought, by a large margin, that Biden won the debate. So maybe my analysis is way off.

I also know the political junkies on both sides loved it. We like the rough-and-tumble of politics.

But I can’t help feeling that many Americans were watching in hopes of seeing a high-minded debate and, instead, saw, in Biden, the same old “malarkey” that, in Congress, has always disgusted them.

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2 Responses to The Veep Debate: Say It Ain’t So, Joe

  1. JMW70710 says:

    Why is it Biden’s “aggressiveness” is deemed rude and childish while RMoney’s was presidential? I think people may give Biden a “pass” because he was reacting the way must of us do when we listen to politicians spew platitudes and lies. Biden came across as human.

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    • Jack Johnson says:

      Totally agree with JMW.

      Biden did what he should have done: said “GTFO with that BS,” because Ryan was basically insulting everyone’s intelligence right out of the gate.

      If he were respectful, we’d be talking about another “strong performance from the GOP.”

      A respectful tone goes flying out the window if your opponent doesn’t want to tell the truth. He didn’t deserve any respect for wheeling that defense up to the stage.

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