Let’s start out by stating the obvious: Romney crushed Obama last week.
Forget what was said. Sure, lots of facts were given for both sides, and a ton of numbers were thrown back and forth, many being twisted, stretched or subtly manipulated – but what was more important was how the candidates held themselves and how they were able to present themselves as possible leaders of the United States. And in this, the confident, upbeat, and surprisingly moderate Romney was far superior to his too-good-to-look-up-from-the-podium nemesis.
Romney, in this regard, was able to win the debate, and, more importantly, win the media narrative. Whether presidential debates matter has been a hot topic as of late, with one of the more popular conclusions being that while the debate in itself doesn’t matter too much, the media perception of the debate certainly can.
Which is exactly why I think Biden has a shot.
Coming off of last weeks performance, I’m sure most liberals were thinking, dear god, if that’s what Romney did to Obama, the political Shakespeare of ‘08, who knows how badly Ryan’s going to kick Biden’s ass. After all, this is the policy wonk godsend of the conservative right vs the guy who said this, this, and did this.
But vice-presidential debates are not the same as presidential debates.
For starters, they matter even less. Secondly, vice-presidential debates are typically where the attack dogs of the campaign come out. People are usually more concerned with the name on top of the ballot, meaning that there are far fewer expectations placed on the vice-president in terms of political restraint, i.e. politeness. This Biden-Ryan debate is shaping up to be a real cage fight, which is why I think Biden has a chance.
Because when it comes to straight numbers and policy talk, Ryan is fairly crisp and articulate, and does a good job looking like he knows what he’s talking about. But when it comes to rhetorical mud-slinging, a passionate, inflamed Joe Biden, while prone to gaffes, can certainly do a better job of connecting with the voter, and convincing the middle of the road Americans that he’s the one who will fight for them while Ryan’s punching deficit numbers in between sets of push ups.
Let’s face it, Ryan can come across as a huge prick; he’s that nerd who wins all the debates in class but then gets his teeth kicked in on the playground. Which is exactly why Biden has a chance. No one’s going to spend Friday revisiting all of the numbers that are sure to be spit out during the debate, no, it’s how the candidates present themselves that’s going to leave an impression, and if Joe Biden can keep him and his trigger finger in line, and force Ryan away from his policy comfort zone and into the heat of political debate, well then, the old chump might actually have a chance.