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Friday, October 12, 2012

On Last Night's Biden Success in the VP Debate

Republicans have been whining all day that Joe Biden "bullied" Paul Ryan in last night's VP debates, and, when the Vice President wasn't doing that, he was grinning inappropriately.  I can well understand such Republican discomfort.  Both actions of Biden - the interruptions and the smiles - were responses to the fountain of Republican lies.   Indeed, it was President Obama's lack of forceful response to such lies last week that damaged him and his positions in that debate.

If anything, even Biden wasn't forceful enough.   When Ryan explained his position on abortion, he allowed that he would not ban them in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother was at stake.  Had Biden asked Ryan how could Ryan then have sponsored the personhood amendment - which, if followed to its logical conclusion that human life commences in its entirety at birth would lead to bans on all abortions - even with that question, Biden would not have been bullying.  He would have been engaging in the noble pursuit of getting at the truth.

Harry Truman famously said, when asked if he would give Republicans hell, that he would speak the truth, and to Republicans that would be hell.  To Republicans today, speaking the truth to them - on women's rights, on the economy, on foreign affairs (here's a list of "24 myths in 90 minutes" told by Ryan last night) - is perceived as bullying. 

Meanwhile, Biden's nonverbal behavior - his smiles and expressions - was also fine.  If anything, once again, a smile is a polite way of responding to a bald-faced lie.   What would Republicans have preferred?  That Biden with a scowl on his face denounced Ryan every time Ryan misrepresented the Democratic positions and the facts - such as unemployment in fact decreasing - and even Republican positions at times?

We move on now to the next Presidential debate, on Tuesday night.  The only thing lacking in last night's debate was that it was the Vice President not the President confronting the Republican misrepresentations.  President Obama will have a crucial opportunity to correct that on Tuesday.

PS: All of the initial polls save one had Biden as the winner of last night's debate.  The one that did not was CNN's - which, it turns out, was based on a sample that had more Republicans than Democrats, which does not accurately reflect the greater number of Democratic registered voters in the country.   CNN had an obligation to immediately and prominently report the basis of its poll results - the skewed nature of its sample.  That CNN did not, until later the next day (today), was unprofessional - and not in the interests of our democracy and the current election.

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