Why Last Night’s Debate Will Really Matter—and, yes, it will. [– UPDATE: Dana Milbank GETS IT! It’s a start. Hopefully only JUST a start.]
Not surprisingly, the pundits have concluded that, while the debate last night will stop the bleeding for the Dem ticket—stop the momentum for Romney/Ryan—it won’t make a difference beyond that. People don’t vote for the vice presidential candidate; they vote for, or against, a presidential candidate.
And anyway, Biden smiled too much! And Ryan was serious and wonkish!
The problem with that analysis is that Biden was wonkish, too. And in being wonkish—and in smiling and even laughing at Ryan’s canned claims repeating Romney’s from last week—Biden began the process of pointing the public to the fact that Romney’s biggest hits from last week are based on nonsense.
It is, in other words, the substance of Biden’s performance, rather than the performancestuff that the pundits fixate on, that actually will matter. In my opinion, one of the most effective moments was Biden’s giving the lie to an important part of the supposed Reagan/Tip O’Neill analogy: that, heading into the negotiations with O’Neill, Reagan didn’t give specifics about what he wanted.
Another important moment—moments, actually; he did it two or three times—was Biden’s challenge to the claim that six studies showed that the Romney/Ryan tax math would work. Biden’s emphatically shaking his head and, yes, smiling and then laughing—he wasn’t able to inject comments, and Raddatz (who impressed me less than she did everyone else) played Lehrer; she asked no questions at all about this—his facial reactions got the message across.
I have two complaints, though. One is that Biden didn’t point out that the Five Point Plan is actually not a plan at all but instead just a statement of generic goals—as is the claim that it will create 12 million jobs, like magic. Presumably, Obama will do that at the debate next week, and do so clearly and repeatedly.
The other is that Biden didn’t say, much less emphasize, that it mattered for the policy outcome that Reagan was dealing with a Democratic House as well as a Democratic Senate.* After the election, the House will continue to be controlled by the Tea Party—and, by Romney’s and Ryan’s own account, they’ll let Congress play a big role in drafting legislation. That is, the House will support the Romney-Ryan administration in trying to force enactment of … the Ryan budget. Presumably, Obama will do this, too, at the debate next week, and do so clearly and repeatedly.
But Biden succeeded, I’m pretty sure, in raising questions in people’s minds about the forthrightness of Romney’s representations last week (reiterated by Ryan last night) , and the truthfulness of his claims. Obama might actually pick up the ball from Biden and run with it.
UPDATE: Dana Milbank of the Washington Post gets it! It’s a start. Hopefully only just a start.
But … woo-hooo!
*CORRECTION: The sentence was corrected for the sake of clarity to include the words “for the policy outcome”.
The interesting thing to me is whether or not Ryan put himself out of a political job last night. Please note he is simultaneously running to return to his house seat, a proposition that may have become more difficult in Obama leaning purple WI.
The Rmoney ticket is toast. If he loses his house seat he’ll be lucky to get picked for Dancing With The Stars next year.
Amateur Socialist, I wish I shared your optomism on either race. Obama is leading in Wisconsin, but it will all come down to turn out. The GOP will turn out and Obama and Baldwin can not win unless students/young people, people of color and the far left turn out. Baldwin will help Obama with the last group and Obama should help Baldwin with people of color so they may get it done, but right now it is close. Even if Obama and Baldwin pull away, it is highly unlikely that Ryan will lose his House seat. He has a decent enough opponent, but that district has gone from leans Democrat to pretty solidly Republican after all the blue collar jobs were lost and those folks moved away in search of jobs. It does not contain many students or minorities. I can also see the Democrats narrowing the gap in the House even if Romney wins and it looks very good that the Democrats will hold onto the Senate. With the blue dogs mostly gone, I am putting my energy and money toward Congress. Ultimately, it was not Obama’s debate performance, but his performance on the economy which caused his lead to evaporate. He can blame Dumbya and the GOP generally, but particularly when he did not fight for anything that would have helped the economy, that is unlikely to save his bacon. It is not over because Romney is a seriously flawed candidate, but I sure would not call Romney/Ryan toast at this point.
Sure sure, acknowledged long shot. I was looking online to try to figure out when WI-01 was last polled and it’s been awhile, over a month. And not super promising for his opponent who I think was down by double digits.
But the dynamics of this race have already yielded a few surprises. And I still fondly remember the beat down the GOP endured in the 06 midterms.
I am hoping that women who care about reproductive choice paid close attention last night to Mr. Ryan’s pause when considering the question regarding a change in the legal status of abortion. Women 18-22 turnout about 8% higher than men in that age group. Between women’s concerns with reproductive health and seniors willingness to question his bogus mediscare scheme his race might end up a little tougher.
And anyway I can’t help visualizing his humiliation extending to a shot on Dancing With The Stars. Or maybe the freshest face on Fox And Friends. Delicious!
If Rmoney and his pets do manage to win (steal?) this election and subsequently enact the restrictions they promise on reproductive choice I predict an unprecedented increase in the incidence of rape charges.
But hey it’ll just help offset some of the losses to the prison industrial complex when the states finally manage to legalize and tax weed. Win win! Jahb creatin law an’ orhdah!
If anyone has a recent poll in WI-01, I’d sure like to see it. I hate to throw good money after bad.