It may not be what you think.
On issue after issue, Biden was dominant.
He defended the Obama record well.
He exposed Ryan and Romney for not having anything substantively different to offer on Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria. (There was, in fact, a distressing bipartisan unanimity on foreign policy. And by the way, when Martha Raddatz said “no one” wants cuts in defense, my eyebrows went up.)
Biden stressed how Ryan and Romney were serving millionaires with tax cuts and disdaining the 47% whom Romney referred to in that Mother wJones interview. Biden also surfaced a quote from Ryan saying that 30% of the public are takers. Ryan had no answer for that one.
Biden quickly introduced the topic of the successful auto bailout, and Ryan had a terrible comeback for that, saying that Romney is a “car guy” and then randomly reciting a visit Romney paid to a family that had a bad car accident—a story that had nothing to do with the bailout of Detroit.
Biden stressed how the Republicans were obstructing programs that would boost jobs and help homeowners, and urged Romney and Ryan and their Republican allies in Congress to just “get out of the way.”
Through the entirety of the debate, from the opening bell to the closing statements, Biden had the better of Ryan, who looked callow and unprepared to be president. He acted more like he was running for high school class president than vice president of the United States. He repeated a couple of prepared zingers that didn’t zing. And at one point he said to Biden that he knew the vice president was under a lot of pressure to do well because of Obama’s bad debate performance—a snide comment that fell very flat.
Though he grinned too much while Ryan was talking, Biden was forceful in making his points. He talked directly to the camera, especially to seniors, in defending Obama’s policy on Medicare and to warn them that Romney and Ryan would hurt this program. And he stressed that he and the President would work hard every day for the middle class—for jobs and for the security that “everything will be OK.”
It was a powerful, commanding performance by Joe Biden, and a weak and weasley one by Paul Ryan.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Romney in Denial about Lethal Lack of Health Insurance."
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter