Mixed Bag

Depending on what poll you believe, or what website you look at, Joe Biden won last night’s Vice Presidential Debate.  No wait, Paul Ryan won.  Or neither or them won.

For what it’s worth, I watched the entire debate, and enjoyed the entire debate, which is more than I can say about last week’s snoozer between Mitt Romney and President Obama.  I thought last night’s debate showcased two men who are firm in their views, and stand behind them; neither chose to run and hide, or to change based off of which way the wind was blowing at the moment.

According to a CBS poll conducted at the conclusion of the debate, Vice President Biden “won” 50%-31%; a CNN poll showed Ryan as the winner at 48%-44%.  The Huffington Post has a nice article about the mixed bag of results from last night.

With the exception of the Libya question, I thought that Mr. Biden did really well on the foreign policy parts of the debate, while Mr. Ryan seemed to be a little lost at times.  That was to be expected given Mr. Biden’s vast foreign policy experience, where Mr. Ryan is more of a numbers guy.  It seemed to me that Mr. Ryan was talking in circles at times on foreign policy; they were for the Iran sanctions, but don’t like them; they agree with the Afghanistan draw-down timeline, but don’t really want to commit to 2014; they don’t think we should send aid to Syria, but want to help out.  It was really confusing to try to keep up with just what the Romney ticket is going for on foreign policy.

On the domestic side, I think Mr. Biden handled himself really well.  He was more specific on tax questions than Mr. Ryan was, and I think the American people deserve specifics.  Mr. Ryan danced around answering which tax loopholes they would close to pay for the $5 trillion tax cut (over a 10 year period) for the wealthy.  He tried to cite deals brokered by Reagan and Kennedy (and I liked Biden’s “now you’re Jack Kennedy?” retort), but Biden did good in explaining to him that both Reagan and Kennedy offered specifics on framework and then hammered out details, something the Romney team has been unwilling or unable to do thus far.

I am happy that Mr. Biden brought up Romney’s 47% comment, and it did provide for one of the lighter moments in the debate when Ryan pointed out that Biden should know that sometimes things don’t always come out like you mean.  And when Biden responded that he at least always “means what I say,” that pretty much ended the defense of the 47% comment as a slip of the tongue.

It was nice to see that the topic of abortion/women’s right was brought up, and how their faith (each are Roman Catholic) influences their view.  I respect Paul Ryan for being a staunch pro-life person, although I disagree with him, especially when he has used terms like “forcible rape” in the past.  I respect that he sticks by his position, but do not agree that the government has the right to tell any woman what they can or cannot do with their body.  I appreciated how Biden was able to separate his religion from his policy (sounded to me like separation of church and state), and basically stated that it was not fundamentally American to impose across the board religious beliefs on people who do not share the same faith; Biden realizes that not everybody shares his faith or practices his religion, and realizes that those who practice their faith differently or choose not to practice at all should not be subjected to laws based solely on his faith.  There are countries that impose religious doctrine on their entire population, but the American reluctance to do so is what makes us better than places like China or Iran.  I know that my pro-choice stance will rub some people the wrong way, and will do so to people who I am close to, but I stand by my view that I am not more qualified to tell my wife or any woman on the street what they can or cannot do with their bodies; I just cannot bring myself to think so highly of myself and to see myself as that much more superior to a woman to where I think I am qualified to decide things about their health.  That is just not me, and I will not waver or apologize.  If you are reading this and are on the other end of the spectrum, I applaud you for being firm in your stance and respect you for it, and I expect the same for you (so if you want to comment on this last paragraph, try to refrain from personal attacks and recitation of talking points).

Did Joe Biden come across at times as being disrespectful with the way he was animated in his gestures while Paul Ryan was speaking?  One could argue that.  I took it as he was not going to sit there and take being attacked with lies and talking points.  And let’s not overlook that Ryan returned the favor with his constant smug grin.

Overall, I thought the debate was respectful and cordial.  It was two men with fundamentally different views on where our country is going and how to get there.  One offered specifics, one did not.  I like specifics, and was disappointed that Ryan did not offer too many; as a numbers guy, I thought he would have had analytical arguments backed by sound reasoning, and he really did not.  Some people think each man was too aggressive and interrupted the other too much, and while I will acknowledge that they did their fair share (not a reference to socialism) of interrupting, it is something that should be expected in a debate.  Yes, they interrupted, but they also let each other offer complete thoughts.

My winner last night?  Joe Biden.  His overall performance was better, and he made a better argument and used specifics.

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2 Responses to Mixed Bag

  1. Pingback: Wondering Again « Our Not So Expert Opinions

  2. Pingback: What If? « Our Not So Expert Opinions

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