Creepy, distracting, rude, unprofessional. Just a handful of the terms thrown out to describe Vice President Joe Biden and his unrelenting smirks and laughter during last night’s VP debate. Let’s not even mention the “crazy, drunk uncle” comparison (oops, I guess I just did). Looking back at the 90-minutes of barbed back-and-forths, it’s actually quite difficult to recall most of what was said. The split screen was absolutely distracting. Twitter blew up with comments from pundits and reporters on both sides of the aisle based solely on Biden’s mannerisms and actions, not the words he spoke. Here’s a selection:
Biden laughing while Martha talks about Iran getting the bomb is just weird.
-Kirsten Powers of The Daily Beast
If Biden’s strategy was to come off like a complete jerk, he’s succeeding brilliantly.
-Philip Klein of The Washington Examiner
Joe, seriously, STOP SMIRKING. This is serious stuff. Be Vice-Presidential.
-Piers Morgan of CNN
Will Biden laugh his ass off at the terrible economy, too?
-Guy Benson of Townhall.com
I’d genuinely like to know how many dreams/nightmares across the country last night included that florescent grin. Now that’s a poll that should be taken immediately.
So, what does all the attention on actions-over-words mean?
A) The substance of the debate was nothing Earth-shattering.
B) Paul Ryan played it safe and made no glaring mistakes in his first-ever national debate.
Here’s where the smirking and laughing ultimately matters. It was essential for Vice President Biden to come in and put a tourniquet on the open wound, which began gushing immediately during last week’s first presidential debate. The narrative over the last week has been the historic debate performance turned in by Mitt Romney over President Obama and, even more so, the bumbling and apathetic presentation by the President himself. This was an opportunity to change, or at least slightly alter, that narrative. Guess what the narrative now becomes between last night and next week’s second Presidential debate? Joe Biden’s actions on stage. Not what he said. Not what Paul Ryan said or did. The focus is solely on JB’s antics. This ends in another loss for the Democratic ticket.
Taking a look at the two major post-debate polls, it was instantly obvious these observations had universally provoked negative numbers for the incumbent. The overall viewership numbers have not yet been released, but it’s easy to surmise millions upon millions were not oblivious to what they saw before their very eyes. Here are the polls:
In the CNN poll, respondents also said that Paul Ryan better communicated his arguments 50% compared to 41% for Joe Biden. Asked who was more likable, Ryan again won 53% to 43%. 60% also viewed Ryan as qualified to be president over 57% for Biden.
One last point that deserves attention is the actions of the moderator, Martha Raddatz. If you hadn’t heard over the last couple days, a news story made the rounds that Barack Obama had attended Raddatz’s wedding in the 90’s, as he had been classmates with her then-husband (who, not surprisingly, was appointed head of the FCC by President Obama). Regardless of these ties, what was noticeable was the difference between Raddatz and last week’s moderator, Jim Lahrer. At times, instead of moderating, she almost joined in as a third-debater (which even CNN pointed out – www.cnn.com/2012/10/12/politics/debate-raddatz/index.html?hpt=hp_t2), often prodding Paul Ryan on his answers and cutting off his responses much more than she did VP Biden. This is not based on bias, as it was mentioned by many post-debate commentators across the plethora of networks. Overall, this becomes a side-note to the story as a whole.
The whole story became Vice President Joe Biden and his not-so-Vice-Presidential antics.
And for another week, that narrative will continue to bury the donkey nation-wide.