In the end, the vice presidential debate Thursday was pretty much like every other – consequential only by its being inconsequential. Neither candidate swayed the election.
But that’s something of a win for the Obama/Biden ticket, in that Vice President Joe Biden’s bravado may have stopped the team’s bleeding for now.
Neither the left-leaning moderator nor the overly genteel Republican candidate Paul Ryan stood up to Biden sufficiently enough to make for a respectful, reasoned discussion of the issues.
In particular, Ryan failed to adequately skewer Biden for the administration’s catastrophic security failures at our embassy in Libya, or the contradictory tall tales Obama officials have authored since then.
At the same time, Biden’s Cheshire cat grin, bizarre cackling and multiple interruptions – someone counted over 80 – while clearly a strategy to retake the offensive, was also off-putting for many.
“He was condescending at times to Paul Ryan,” concluded even liberal CNN contributor Gloria Borger. “I think I could have done with a lot less eye-rolling and chuckling ...”
“That mugging, those condescending looks – it was a complete turnoff,” the Associated Press quoted body language expert Lillian Glass as saying. “He was bullying, he was smug, he interrupted ... I think he lost a lot of his message based on facial gestures.”
At the same time, Ryan’s acquiescence to Biden’s antics was a bit passive for a prospective national leader. You were left either thinking he was a nice young man or not ready to sit across the table from Putin.
Again, likely a wash.
The real legacy of the debate, aside from Biden’s dental work and off-the-charts testosterone level, may be an encouragement to President Obama to be like Biden in the next presidential debate. Let’s hope not. We’ve already had enough snark and ridicule in this campaign to last a lifetime.
These are serious times requiring serious leaders with serious solutions. Biden may have won points for toothy bombast, but that won’t put food on the table or make us safer at night.