Last night's Vice Presidential debate did put more pressure on Vice President Biden, who was tasked with delivering the same old progressive talking points about taxes, foreign policy, abortion, and health care – albeit with a little more spiritedness. However, the pervasive grinning, smiling, and interrupting came off as egregiously arrogant and condescending. Biden conveyed a "I'm gonna kill that kid" demeanor with his impatience and exuded the same entitled disposition that plagued President Obama in his first debate with Gov. Romney. You don't get bonus points for being the incumbent – or at least you shouldn't.
Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post wrote last night that:
...Biden’s aggressive performance is a sure winner for him (and the president) within the Democratic base. But, it felt to us like he went a little bit overboard and, at times, bordered on bullying Ryan. Biden’s derisive smiles and laughs while Ryan tried to answer questions weren’t great optics for the vice president and his repeated interruptions won’t make those who think politics should be more civil happy. Biden’s agenda was clear during the debate: he was set on erasing the passive performance of Obama last week. That he did, but in so doing it felt like he went a bit overboard.
However, while Cillizza admitted that the Vice President acted like a 'tool,' that commentary was tempered since he also rated Biden's last fifteen minutes in the debate as a win. Guy Benson cited The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan in his post on Townhall this morning reiterating Biden's obstreperous demeanor.
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. Mr. Ryan was generally earnest, fluid, somewhat wonky, confident. He occasionally teetered on the edge of glibness and sometimes fell off.
When you interrupt your opponent 82-96 times throughout the debate, you certainly deserve this criticism.
Paul Ryan, like Romney, had command of the facts that demonstrated how the Obama/Biden ticket had policies that are anathema to American business. He showed that the Obama administration have no plans to deal with the looming fiscal crisis we face. For all the left-wing agitation over the Ryan budget, it received more votes in Congress than Obama's alternative and is empirical evidence that Republicans have a plan. Obama's secret weapon to pay down our debt and deficit still centers on raising taxes on the job creating and investing class. As Congressman Ryan said, if these individuals were taxed at 100%, it would only fund government for 98 days. We would still have a $300 billion dollar deficit. As many in the conservative movement have noted, increasing taxes on an incrementally shrinking base of taxable recipients, while not reforming our welfare state, is the flawed logic of leaping a chasm in two bounds.
On taxes, Biden hurled 'malarkey of his own. As Human Events' David Harsanyi wrote on October 12, Biden "continually swatted away claims that small business would be hit by President Obama’s tax hikes, even though an Internal Revenue Service recently found that Bush-era tax rates would mean around 1 million companies would be hit with new taxes.There aren’t enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending,' Mr. Ryan said, attacking the central promise of a second term – tax hikes. 'Watch out middle class, the tax bill is coming to you.”
However, Biden pivoted by invoking the middle class and defended the 47% of Americans ,who don't pay any federal income taxes, who have been labeled as freeloaders. Everyone knew this jab was coming, but when Biden said "it shouldn’t be surprising for a guy [Mitt Romney] who says 47% of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives," he forgets that there is some truth to Romney's remarks. American liberalism is centered on destroying responsibility and filling that void with the government. You saw this when the Obama administration called unemployment benefits and food stamps a form of economic stimulus, instead of viewing it as a temporary solution to keep economically hard hit Americans from becoming destitute.
Concerning health care reform, Harsanyi wrote that "Biden also claimed falsely asserted that the Obama Administration had not raised taxes on the middle class, when in fact there are over a dozen middle class hike in Obamacare alone. Relying on a single left-wing study, Biden continued to make the Obama campaign’s case that Romney’s tax reform plan was mathematically impossible, despite the fact that other studies find that it’s feasible. And Ryan laid out the job numbers in proper perspective – as stagnant."
On the 15% of Americans living in poverty and the 23 million struggling to find employment, the vice president asserts that the Obama administration will focus on "leveling the playing field." Again, showing that American liberalism has radically shifted away from emphasizing equality of opportunity and towards equality of outcome. In doing so, we must sacrifice more freedom to achieve that goal. This is an aspect progressives omit when they, for example, push for the expansion of social programs, which they feel enhances the public good. By the way, the Dependency Index has increased 23% under President Obama – which is a whopping 67 million Americans who are sustained by at least one federal program.
On foreign policy, the vice president was again mistaken. Regarding Syria, the vice president feels that Assad will fall. However, with Iran flying over Iraqi airspace with impunity with supplies to keep Assad in power – that's a presumptuous statement. Assad's army is still strong and there is a chance he can survive this insurrection, which we should stay out of at all costs. Although, if the Obama administration wanted to ensure such an outcome, they shouldn't have pulled out of Iraq. Iraq doesn't have the capability to protect its skies since we provided for their air defense. Yet, we shouldn't be surprised by Biden's foreign policy inaccuracies. He, after all, advocated to partition Iraq into three semi-autonomous countries along racial lines that would be "held together by a central government." It was an Iraqi version of the Articles of Confederation and we know how that turned out.
On Benghazi, some are saying Biden has damaged the administration irrevocably. Instead of saying it was a terrorist attack, Biden decided to throw the State Department and the intelligence community under the bus. Oh – and did I mention that he lied about the need for security. He said last night "We weren't told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there."
Well, Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy magazine wrote yesterday that:
In fact, two security officials who worked for the State Department in Libya at the time testified Thursday that they repeatedly requested more security and two State Department officials admitted they had denied those requests.
"All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources," the top regional security officer in Libya over the summer, Eric Nordstrom, testified. "In those conversations, I was specifically told [by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb] ‘You cannot request an SST extension.' I determined I was told that because there would be too much political cost. We went ahead and requested it anyway."
Nordstrom was so critical of the State Department's reluctance to respond to his calls for more security that he said, "For me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building."
Concerning the intelligence community, Bryan Preston at PJ Media's Tatler posted early this morning that Biden's insinuation that:
...the Benghazi assault resulted from a protest because that’s what the intelligence community told them. It’s possible that the presidentially-appointed head of the CIA, Gen David Petraeus, blamed the assault on a video. Petraeus was quoted on Sept 13 doing just that in a briefing to Congress. But by that point it was already evident that the assault was a pre-planned terrorist attack and the administration had begun its pushback against that view. The question is, did the larger intelligence community agree with Petraeus?
In a word, no.
Flashback to Sept 26: The US knew that Benghazi was a terrorist attack within the first 24 hours.
Flashback to Sept 28: The US listened in as Benghazi attackers bragged to al Qaeda.