Friday, October 12, 2012

Veep Wrap

My take on the Biden/Ryan showdown is up over at Plum Line. Basically, I predicted that reactions would be mostly determined by whether people like Joe Biden or not; he dominated that much.

I'll just add a few random points here...

1. I strongly suspect that Ryan will come off worse on the transcript than he did live on TV. We'll see, but that's my guess.

2. It remains amazing the extent to which Republicans, despite having a perfectly fine real target, are running against a fictional Obama. There was a bit of the real target tonight; Ryan had a riff he repeated at least once about this being a lousy recovery. That's true! But mostly, Ryan's (and Romney's) targets are, as Biden said, a bunch of malarkey about apology tours, a fictional war Catholics, an "unraveling" foreign policy, and an economy worse now when Obama took office.

3. It surely doesn't matter, but Biden seemed to hit a point with, I don't know, 15 or so minutes remaining where he apparently decided he risked overkill and shut down the stuff that was dominating the debate up to that point (where "dominating" just means keeping the attention on him). I suspect that was a mistake, even though few were still watching and the pundits had surely made up their minds by then, because I think there was a chance Ryan would rattle further.

4. There was apparently a phony "AP poll" released after the debate which went around twitter rapidly. Seems like a smart, if totally slimy, thing to do; the instapolls do drive coverage.

5. Just a guess, of course, but I think that once everything settles down the polls will judge Ryan a clear winner. Why? GOP spinners and GOP-aligned media have already settled on a simple, clear, line of what happened (That jerk Biden was a jerk and everyone hated him). Democratic spinners, from what I've seen, do not have nearly as clear a line, and the Dem-aligned media is far less efficient. They'll say Biden won, but they won't have a story to use to convince people of that. Therefore, more people will buy the GOP "Ryan won" story.

6. Nevertheless, I agree with the conventional wisdom that the goal here for Biden was to rally Dems, and he did that effectively; the polling consensus won't be strong enough to dilute the Democratic spin that Biden won.

7. Dems also may benefit if they push substantive points while Republicans are obsessing about Biden's demeanor.

8. It's just amazing how poorly placed the Republicans are to criticize Obama on foreign policy and national security. That's true generally, of course; what the House Republicans have done over the last two years (with Romney basically on board) is just so far from the mainstream that it's constantly tripping them up. For example, on diplomatic security. Mind you, I don't think that logic matters all that much in these things, but to the extent it does it's a real problem for them.

Okay, that's it for now. I'm not even sure I'm going to post a "Read Stuff" in the morning...


  1. "It's just amazing how poorly placed the Republicans are to criticize Obama on foreign policy and national security."

    In a way yes; but Obama's foreign policy is more or less that of recent Republican presidents. There's just very little (non-fictional) material for them to criticize. It's the downside of winning a policy battle.

  2. If the polls are currently overestimating Romney (which seems likely given what you political scientist folks have been predicting about a tight race that leans Obama) then we're due for a correction in Obama's favor in the next few days. And/or, it seems like Democrats and liberals who were looking for a reason to feel optimistic are going to jump on Biden's performance and start expressing more enthusiasm... which will move the "likely voter" models of pollsters in Obama's direction. If the polls do move in Obama's direction, then the media can turn it into an Andrew Sullivan-esque narrative about how Biden single-handedly saved the Obama campaign.

    On another note, I sincerely hope that Paul Ryan runs in '16 so that I can watch Chris Christie rip that little weasel limb from limb in the GOP debates.

  3. Jonathan,
    So what should the Democratic response be to the "Biden;s a jerk and everyone hated him" Republican spin? Early morning national news network (CBS), have the spin being that Biden was "disrespectful." If I were working for the Dems, my response would be to say, ask Paul Ryan if he thought Biden was disrespectful. Furthermore, I'd argue that being critical of an opponent that has been equally disrespectful, and a purveyor of stretching the truth of the president's record, and an opponent that has been misleading the public on policy proposals deserves no respect and calls for ridicule. That's not being disrespectful or a jerk, it's calling out your opponent for being a liar without saying so directly.

  4. This has nothing to do with the spin or the election, but I was personally surprised at how dumb Ryan is. Beyond the de rigueur liberal mockery of the weirdness of his "boy genius" equity, he just isn't, you know, all that shmart. I mentioned the Laffer Curve thing below; his abortion answer later also blew my mind.

    I guess Radditz threw them a curveball by framing their views in the context of Catholicism. But Ryan and Mitt believe in outlawing abortion except for rape, incest and health of the mother? Does Ryan not realize that, for example, states that legalize medical marijuana do so with a restrictive list of maladies in mind, which maladies conveniently mushroom (!) at the dispensaries, so if there are 3 M abortions today, there will be 3 M jeopardized mothers tomorrow, at least in the eyes of his core fundy pro-life voters? And that stupid story about his kid's nickname coming from an 8-week ultrasound? Ugh.

    Amidst that insipidness, Ryan did manage to squeeze in a challenge to Biden on the Democrats' former embrace of "safe, legal and rare", and what happened to that? But that great question was lost in the wash of self-inflicted wounds and inanity.

    I bring all this up because, as Radditz was asking the question, the traps for Ryan were obvious in real-time. Not that I myself am shmart, but pushing back on Biden for the dissipation of "safe, legal and rare" seemed like an incredibly obvious way for Ryan to get out of a tight spot. Which he tried, I guess, but let it be drowned out by the story about his kid's stupid nickname, oh, and me and Lord Mittens will outlaw abortion except in those cases where a for-profit abortion doctor declares it "medically necessary".

    Good one, boy wonder.

  5. I can't believe Biden agreed to make himself a spectacle last night. After the horror of algore's sighing in 2000, and the whole alpha male act in confronting Bush physically, you'd think everybody would have learned their lesson here.

    This Obama campaign is just a strategic abortion. They don't even know what's good for them, and these blunders are coming regularly now.

    They campaign negatively for over a year, and then Obama fails to provide the obvious and necessary closure to those attacks, by driving them home in the debate? So the lefty base howls, and the Obamabots knee jerk response is to go full on algore in the VP debate, a la 2000? What a foolish blunder.

    The lefty base doesn't matter, not at this late date, and a competent campaign understands this. They just turned off Independents by the boatload, who DO matter.

    Down the stretch, the Obama campaign is getting outplayed pretty badly.

    1. Looks like Joe Biden got some conservatives mighty rattled, if this is the best you can manage. Of course bases matter in an election - and there's no reason to believe that independents were turned off by the spectacle of Lyin' Ryan the Little League Pinocchio being owned so hard that he'll have trouble sitting down for a week. A poll of undecided voters thought Biden won it by 50-31, which is pretty clear-cut, even in the world of GOP fantasies.

    2. Hope you got paid well for that.

    3. If your base has to be riled up 24 days before a reelection, then you are running a failing campaign, by definition. And yet, that's what Biden was doing last night... throwing raw meat to the lefty base. And all because Obama was too inept to punctuate his campaign's yearlong negative attacks, during that first debate. That made him and his previous attacks look feckless and ineffectual, and damaged him in both the Independents' eyes and those of his own base.

      That's the reason Biden had to bluster forth and go full on algore last night... it was a knee jerk reaction to previous blunders... to mollify a restive base.

      Campaign 101 = You never attack negatively with anything the candidate himself isn't going to verbalize. That decision had to be made over a year ago, and evidently in the Obamabots' case, they decided to ignore that simple maxim. It's leading to knock on blunders like last night. And yes, the sneering/sighing/alph-male shenanigans have a negative drag coming out of these debates, always.

    4. Hm. Has anyone noticed any non-right-wingers out there complaining about Biden's demeanor last night?

      (And I mean, complaining that it actually offended them, not speculating that it might offend other people.)

      See if you can find one. Then I'll admit it had a "negative drag."

      If you can't, then you probably should just admit Biden won and move on.

    5. Anon @10:45, I'm what you'd call a 'non-right-winger,' and I did think Biden a bit rude; but in pretty much exactly the same way I thought Romney was rude, interrupting, talking over, must-get-last-word-in.

      I give Biden credit for learning what wins a debate so fast this cycle, for nobody's talking about how he demolished Ryan's historical reinventions, policy missrepresentations, and outright malarky. Obviously, truth and policy don't matter as much as being the loudest mouth in the room this year.

  6. Isn't there a minimum age for using the word "malarky?"

  7. That Ryan line about taxing every dollar of the rich reducing the deficit down to $300 billion doesn't work if you think about it. 1) Obama's proposing spending cuts as well as tax hikes 2) A $300 billion debt is probably low enough (less than 2% of debt) that the national debt would decrease as a share of GDP. If inflation is high enough, it even reduces debt in real terms.

    Of course, taxing literally every dollar the wealthy make wouldn't make sense. But you could use the same "logic" for every other potential way to deal with the deficit ("if you cut [Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security/Pentagon/domestic discretionary] down to zero, the deficit would still be $X hundred billion").

  8. Seems to me like Dem spinners and talking heads have spoken totally in unison: Biden dominated the debate, and he energized his base. How is that not a "simple, clear, line of what happened"?

    Look, when the parties' competing spin lines are "Biden dominated" on the one hand, and "Biden was rude" on the other, then it is pretty easy for undecideds/weak partisans to come to a conclusion about what happened at the debate. And that conclusion most definitely will not be "Ryan won."


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