BIDEN RATTLES RYAN
The emphasis on congressional Republicans was key to Biden’s strong performance in Kentucky, because it provided a more favorable way for Democrats to frame the campaign: not as a choice between President Obama and some abstract alternative but a choice between Obama and the dimly regarded Republican-led House, which would be in a dominant position under a President Romney. Romney’s views may be all over the lot, but the positions of Republicans on Capitol Hill are clear and stark. Many will criticize Biden’s antics on the debate stage: loud guffaws, grimaces, raising his arms and looking heavenward, interjecting with “Oh, God,” and “this is amazing.” But all of the scoffing and incredulity was to an end, and one that Obama would be wise to emulate: It indicated outrage.
THE GENERATION WAR
NEW YORK TIMES
Emotionally, Biden dominated the night. Democrats were wondering if the Obama administration was a spent force, too exhausted to carry on. They don’t have to wonder about that anymore. But, substantively, it is the Romney-Ryan proposals that were the center of attention. Some of those proposals are unpopular (Medicare, which was woefully undercovered). Some are popular (taxes). But most of the discussion was on Romney plans because the other side just doesn’t have many. This was a battle of generations. The age difference was the undercurrent of every exchange. The older man had the virility, but, in a way, that will seem antique to many.
A DEBATE WITH CLARITY AND FERVOR
NEW YORK TIMES
Thursday night’s vice-presidential debate was one of the best and meatiest political conversations in many years, showing that real differences on public policy can be discussed with fervor, anger, laughter and real substance. In contrast to the dismal meeting last week between President Obama and Mitt Romney, this debate gave voters a chance to evaluate the positions of the two tickets, in part because Representative Paul Ryan’s nonanswers were accurate reflections of his campaign. Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. would not sit still for a parade of misleading and often blatantly untruthful descriptions of the state of the economy and the Republican prescriptions for it. Though his grins and head-shakes were often distracting, he did not hesitate to interrupt and demand an end to “malarkey.” … Both candidates, however, demonstrated real engagement on issues that matter. It was a real change for voters starved for substance.
BIG BAD BIDEN
NEW YORK TIMES
Seldom have the words “my friend” been laced with so much arsenic. Joe Biden used them again and again Thursday night in reference to Paul Ryan, even as he painted the young Congressman as callow, shallow, mendacious and misinformed. Seldom has a split screen yielded such vigorous facial calisthenics. When Ryan talked, Biden didn’t just listen. He smiled with disbelief. He smiled even wider with derision. He whipped his head this way and that, laughing scornfully, glancing heavenward in exasperation. …It said everything about his strategy in the wake of President Obama’s soporific performance in Denver last week. Biden wasn’t going to be accused of underreacting. He was going to react all over the place—with his expressions, his exclamations and plenty of interruptions.
AN UNILLUMINATING RUMBLE
The conversation Thursday night on domestic issues was both disappointingly narrow — issues such as education, immigration and climate change never came up — and infuriatingly dodgy. Rep. Paul Ryan, much like his running mate, Mitt Romney, repeatedly declined to identify any of the tax breaks that would be curtailed to pay for the proposed 20 percent reduction in tax rates. … The unwillingness of the Republican ticket to offer specifics on how it would pay for the rate cuts remains nothing short of irresponsible. … At times Mr. Biden struck us as unduly condescending; Mr. Ryan, a touch unsure of his footing. But their performances both were fine; their weaknesses were less in presentation than in the failure of their tickets, in different ways, to offer an honest road map of their intentions for governing.