Friday, October 12, 2012

So, Who Won Last Night's VP Debate? A Look at Opposing Views

Posted By on Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 4:57 PM

Accounts as to who won last night's vice-presidential debate between current VP Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan, running mate to Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, are split, though CNN polls showed Ryan winning by a slim margin over Biden, 48% to 44%.

So, in the interest of fairness, I've pulled two differing opinions as to who won last night: One from the National Journal's Michael Hirsh, and one from The Stranger's Paul Constant.

First, Mr. Hirsh:

What the 69-year-old vice president needed to do in this debate was to use his vastly greater experience in public office—four decades’ worth—to show up his 42-year-old rival’s inexperience, especially in foreign policy. But Biden at best battled Ryan to a standoff. In particular, Biden was not terribly effective in countering the anticipated Republican script, which involved a move to the moderate middle less than a month before the election. Ryan, who for much of his young career has been a hero to conservatives, managed to successfully portray himself and Romney as defenders of the middle class and responsible stewards of foreign policy who would not get America into another war

And now, Mr. Constant:

Joe Biden creamed Paul Ryan. He laughed in Ryan's face and left him speechless. He shook Ryan's ideas until they fell apart like the crepe paper and chicken wire that they truly are. (It's important to note that Martha Raddatz's fine moderation held Ryan to the truth, too. Republicans are surely going to target Raddatz in the next few days, as they do all "uppity" women, but Raddatz should be proud of the fact that she reminded America what a great debate moderator is supposed to do.) Biden clearly stated his beliefs as a Democrat. He argued that America cares about Americans, and he fact-checked Ryan at every turn. (I was particularly moved by Biden's personal opposition as a Catholic to abortion, but his commitment to the fact that, as an elected official, it's not his job to impose his will on the American people.) Biden out-argued, out-spoke, and out-thought the smartest man the Republicans have to offer, and he did so armed with the courage of his convictions.

Personally, I don't have an opinion as to who won this debate. Ryan asserted himself well, though a few outlets noted that Ryan used Politifact's 2010 Lie of the Year when referencing the changes that the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) will have on healthcare as we know it. Biden, by virtue of being Joe Biden, didn't pull any punches and, in the eyes of many observers, came across as an arrogant old man — plus, there's the matter of him claiming that the White House had no knowledge of requests for more security by the American embassy in Libya, when there's sworn testimony to the contrary, which Mitt Romney has rightfully taken and run with.

Either way, like next week's town hall match-up between Romney and President Barack Obama, it's just another part of the undercard leading up to November 6th's main event.

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