Popcorn, Politics and Cannonballs
You have to hand it to Joe Biden, he knows how to draw attention to himself. There is a reasonable amount of chatter on the internet not only about the depth of the impending vice presidential debate but the lurking possibility that some Monty Python type of moment will unfold before the eyes of the nation. It is hopelessly preposterous not to consider the potential of a cringe worthy moment occurring. Biden’s presence brings the very real possibility of some magnificent folly. The man is a walking conversation starter.
This debate may have been a nonstarter with the masses had things not gone so horribly wrong for Obama when Romney expeditiously dismantled him in their debate last week. Obama’s lack of performance left no doubt that the impending debate puts Joe Biden’s performance front and center.
The Democrats are pinning their hopes on a turnaround at this event. I imagine they are cringing a bit in closed circles considering who they are relying on. Ryan and Romney have more to lose. They have the momentum and it is Ryan’s job to not only keep that momentum but to present a steadying force behind Romney and sell himself as a national voice of reason.
The popular perception is that Joe Biden is completely outclassed intellectually by Paul Ryan. Biden doesn’t care what the perception is. He will go into attack mode like an angry honey badger on each point delivered by Romney in the Presidential debate. Ryan mentioned as much in an interview with The Weekly Standard, “I expect the vice president to come at me like a cannonball.” While I agree with Ryan’s assessment, given Biden’s historical missteps I cannot help but ponder whether he will take that comment literally and show up in his cape and leotards as Cannonball Man.
Ryan will enter his wonky, blue eyed assassin mode. He will utilize his Leave it To Beaver charm to employ his encyclopedic grasp on facts and statistics to both attack and eschew the current President, his policies, and administration. Where others fear turning the brain matter of the audience into porridge with a data dump of details, Ryan’s rhythm, cadence, and grasp of the language tends to get people nodding their heads in agreement.
If Biden cannot get traction on his efforts to discredit Romney, he will likely try to steer the conversation to Ryan’s Roadmap for America/Path To Prosperity. It is feasible that this is where he will try to unload multiple zingers. He will hit Ryan on the Medicare similarities between Obama’s plan & Ryan’s budget, the voucher system to Medicaid, Ryan’s marathon comments, and his effort to tie Obama to the closing of the GM plant in Janesville. If the debate tacks this direction, Ryan will have the opportunity to hit the nerve center of a myriad of shortcomings perpetuated by both Obama and Biden.
Expect Biden to fully ignore the directional control attempts by debate moderator Martha Raddatz. Ryan will be respectful and behave like a statesman.
On the surface it would seem an easy debate to handicap. Conventional wisdom would indicate that Ryan will wipe the floor with him. I’m not so certain. Crazy Joe is enough of a wild card that he could turn this debate multiple directions. Biden reminds me of a professional wrestler, big on showmanship and low on reality. Let us not forget that a large audience exists that enjoys watching Atomic Leg Drops and Cobra Choke Holds.
Unfortunately there are no Sun Tzu Seven Considerations to forecast victory in this debate. Foot in Mouth Joe is just too unpredictable. Biden is like Kramer from Seinfeld. He can fall over backward into good luck and unwittingly deliver a gift to the Obama machine. Pick a winner? I’ll take Ryan in a nail biter.
Perhaps the country could use a timeout, intermission, or some levity before getting back to impending November rumble. With that in mind pour an adult beverage, get the popcorn ready, tune into the debate, and keep an eye out for cannonballs.