My View of Last Night’s Vice Presidential Debate


Vice President Joe Biden reacts to Iranian nukes, massive unemployment, looming economic collapse and national bankruptcy, the murder of a U.S. ambassador in Benghazi, and federal encroachments on religious freedom.


Some — not as many as should, but, still, some — have been asking for my take on last night’s vice-presidential debate.  So here it is:


First, though, an advisory.  I am, even if few of you have noticed it, very strongly opposed to the reelection of Obama-Biden and a committed supporter of Romney-Ryan.


That said, I was disappointed in Congressman Ryan’s performance last night.  He didn’t make any major gaffes.  He was fine.  But he came across as quite young, and he never really got into his groove.   I don’t think he made his points particularly well, and I think he failed altogether to make several important points that he should have made.  He didn’t lose, but he didn’t win, either.


To a considerable degree, of course, his less-than-ideal performance was a result of his being walked all over by Joe Biden, and, to a lesser but still obnoxious degree, by the moderator, who seemed to interrupt him almost constantly.


And that brings up the demeanor of Vice President Biden.


Mr. Biden seemed, to me, almost unhinged.  One of my favorite comments about his behavior last night suggested that his debate preparation must have consisted of (a) inhaling a lot of nitrous oxide and (b) sticking a fork into an electric socket.


But I don’t think Mr. Biden’s crazy.  I think his incessant smirking, ostentatious fake laughter, irritating incivility, repeated talking over his opponent, and constant interruptions were a conscious effort not only to put Mr. Ryan off his game but to exhibit disdain for the congressman (and, to an extent, for Mr. Romney).  And it worked.  But perhaps it worked too well.


Was this an effective debating technique?
I really don’t know. Perhaps. Perhaps not.


I know I’m not the only one out here in television land who judged the Vice President’s contemptuous behavior to be that of a consummately arrogant jerk.


I don’t know, however, whether it offended undecided voters (and particularly undecided women) as much as it put me off.  If it did, Mr. Biden lost last night, and lost big.  If it didn’t, he probably did reasonably well, and the debate was pretty much a wash or even, perhaps, a Biden victory by a nose.


Did Mr. Biden win by a nose?
The polls will eventually tell the story.


I’m inclined to think it a wash, not a Biden victory, and to guess that neither side really won or changed many minds.  Unless Mr. Biden’s unpleasant buffoonery did the Democratic side as much damage as, in my view, it should.


On the substance, I judge that several of Mr. Biden’s claims were flatly untrue — e.g., his claim that the Obama administration was simply echoing, on the Benghazi debacle, the best information available to American intelligence and that they never knew that more security was needed for our representatives on the ground there.   However, few people in the audience, I’m guessing, are real political junkies with particular interests in the Middle East, so I can’t say, off hand, whether or not they noticed that specific falsehood.



Joseph Smith, and one who betrayed him
The shiftless laziness of Joseph Smith and his family
A bit of scientific background for understanding the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore
Joseph Smith, trying to teach
  • JL

    Speaking from the female ranks, I thought Biden was rude beyond belief last night, and it is an embarrassment (but not the first time) to think he has been serving as our vice president for the last four years.

  • Scott Pierson

    Based on my anecdotal observations, women, especially, disliked Mr. Biden’s display of arrogance, contempt, and disdain. One woman I know from work said that he seemed like a clown — someone who shifted back and forth between silly and frightening.

  • The Atomic Mom

    Another woman here — Biden was rude, rude, rude. You don’t act that way in polite company, you don’t act that way if you are the VP. It was a poor representation of our country. I agree with you on Paul Ryan’s green-ness. But he is young and can learn. However, despite that, he did do a good job, being tag teamed as he was. I wish him well.

  • Rozann

    Comments on other sites say that Biden displayed classic alcoholism symptoms. Several said it was uncannily like their own father. Ryan came across to me as a little too polite, as I would have boxed Biden’s ears for so rudely interrupting me each time I tried to speak. Nevertheless, I was glad to see that Ryan didn’t sink to Biden’s level, kept his cool, and let Biden’s true colors shine. The moderator was so obviously biased that it was painful to watch her grill Ryan and help Biden along. The Obama administration is imploding and, God willing, we’ll see the end of it soon.

  • Eric Stoddard.

    Biden was flatulently rude. Oops I meant flatly rude.

  • Jenifer Larson-Hall

    Hi, another woman here. I thought Biden was just fine. I only watched about 20 minutes of the presidential debate, but it seemed to me that Romney was basically doing the same thing that Biden did–interrupting to make his points, taking control of the debate, bringing the conversation around to what he wanted to talk about. Obama didn’t do terribly, but I felt he failed to make some points he could have in rejoinder (sounds like what people here have said about Ryan). So if Romney ‘won’ the first debate through these means, it seems to me that Biden ‘won’ the debate as well.

    • danpeterson

      I’m not sure that you would have the same opinion if you had watched ninety minutes of the debate rather than merely twenty.

  • Kerry A. Shirts

    So we worry more about a personality than the reality of facts on the issues? Biden decapitated Ryan on the issues. But then again, I am neither Democrat nor Republican, but the facts are simply NOT being honestly told by the Romney/Ryan ticket. I DON’T trust them.

    • danpeterson

      We disagree as to the facts. Biden, in my judgment, was playing fast and loose with them — and nowhere more clearly than in what he claimed about events in Benghazi and what the intelligence services knew. On top of that, he also behaved like an arrogant buffoon.

    • Tom O.

      Sure, if by “decapitated” you mean that Biden lied through his teeth.

  • Tom O.

    Joe Biden…..the living embodiment of his party’s mascot.

  • John Williams

    It’s easy to be critical of Paul Ryan, but I do not believe that I would have done any better under the circumstances. I admire his ability to stay cool in the face of Biden’s buffoonery. My main disappointment — I was ACHING for him to point out to Biden (or rather the audience) that the Iranian mullahs DID back down once — the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. That was because Reagan had never ruled out major use of force if the Iranians did not release the hostages from our embassy. The mullahs have no more respect for Obama than they did for Jimmy Carter, and that’s our problem. Further, Biden’s stupidity over the Iranian’s lack of a “bomb” to put their enriched uranium in should have been challenged. In WWII it took our scientists only a few months to come up with the design for the bomb that exploded near Alamogordo, and it worked the first time it was tried. The basics of the design are probably available on the internet. This will not pose a serious problem for Iran. But having Biden a heartbeat aware from the Presidency — and having Obama actually sitting as President — are major problems for the US. Those clowns would have joined Chamberlain at Munich to promise American disarmament to Hitler if only he wouldn’t talk so nasty.

    In addition, the other thing Ryan should have stressed is the the success of the Reagan recovery in 1982-1986. It provides proof that supply side economics DOES work, and that it’s possible for America to rise from economic malaise with the right mix of tax cuts and deregulation.

    • danpeterson

      Excellent point about the mullahs and President Reagan.

  • Wendell

    Did George Washington do any debates? Would our image of him survive to this day if he had? Debates are billed as a way of getting at the truth. More often than not, that adds up to false advertising. One thing people don’t seem to remember however is that Uncle Joe is a proven plagiarist. He is also a non-stop gaffe machine that somehow gets a pass from the press. They document his gaffes but don’t make him pay for them.

    • danpeterson

      I agree. Winners in debates aren’t always those who deserve to win. People can win on the basis of sheer appearance (e.g., Kennedy vs. Nixon), or via falsehoods, or by means of clever but shallow one-liners. Glibness in debate doesn’t rank very high among the skills required to be a good chief executive of the United States.

  • Wendell

    Biden also was incorrect when he said that Iran has no bomb for their fissile materials. They don’t need one. They can always import one from:
    1. Pakistan
    2. North Korea
    3. Russia
    4. China
    Just to name a few.

  • Barb Taylor

    My husband and I are currently serving an LDS mission in Ghana and didn’t get to see the debate live (it started at 1:00 am here and our Internet connection tends to go bump in the night). But from the replayed bits we watched I must say that Biden’s behavior was like fingernails on a blackboard…he reminded me of some of the male lawyers I knew when I entered practice 30 years ago. That won’t go unnoticed by many women who shared my experience but supported President Obama in 2008. We lived in Illinois in 2008 and couldn’t support him because we had first-hand knowledge of how inexperienced and shallow he was; please don’t forget that Ryan is IMMENSELY more qualified as a vice presidential candidate than Obama was as a presidential candidate.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    During the Manhattan project, the US created two different kinds of atomic bombs. One was made using “enriched uranium”, in which uranium fluoride compiound is heated ibto a gas and run through a series of curved pipes in order separate out much of the heavier Uranium 238 isotope which has a longer half life and is less radioactive. The small amount of the Uranium 235 isotope in natural Uranium becomes mire concentrated. Basic enrichment is necessary to get a sustainable nuclear chain reaction in a nuclear reactor. Beyond that, the U 235 must be concentrated even further to make a Uranium bomb. This is a simpke affair. In the Hiroshima bomb, it consisted of two pueces of high U 235: one in the shape of a ring with a central hole, and the other in the shap of a plug for the whole.. With a high enough concentration of U 235, and enough mass, the plug is put at the end of a tube, and an explosive charge rams it home into the hole, creating a “critical mass” that will sustain a cascading nuclear chain reaction. The Uranium bomb is so simpke that it was never tested! The first time it exploded was over Hiroshima. With enough Uranium, making a bomb is not technically challenging.

    Making a Plutonium bomb is much more complex. The desirability of a Plutonium bomb is that you make it from Uranium 238, which is in greater supply than U 235. You cook Uranium fuel in a nuclear reactor, and the neutrons shooting outnfrom the nuclear fission are absorbed into U 238 and creates Plutonium 239. As a different chemical element, it reacts differently from Uranium and can be separated usingbthat difference. The indystrial scake chemical separators at the Hanford Works in Washington State are buildins 1,000 feet long, 100 feet high andb100 feet wide, and are called “canyons” because that is what they look like inside. The wastenfrom the process was tons if mixed radioactive and chemical liquids. The Plutonium 239 created in the first several months amounted to a couple of holliw spheres the size of grapefruit. One was exploded at Alamogordo in the Trinity test, the second exploded over Nagasaki, the most Christian city in Japan. Of the next seven Plutonium bombs, howver, only one went nuclear. The way you rwach critical mass with a Plutonium sphere is to use shaped charges to precisely compress it evenly. If the comoression wave is even slightly unbalanced, you get Plutonium dust, not a nuclear explosion. That design was the secret that the Rosenbergs stole for Stalin. The people of Nagasaki lost a bet when the odds were two to one in their favor. Nowadays, with microprocessors, the ability to get simultaneous ignition ofnthe shaped charges is a muvh simpler problem. Materials science in explosives has also advanced. But it us still harder to make a Plutonium bomb than a Uranium one.

    A delivery ststem is easy. The B-29 was the first really long range plane. Any modern jet transport plane can take a bomb to any city in the world, especially if it looks like any other commercial charter. You don’t need to drop the bomb, you just explode the bomb in the plane. A second jet would fly the first by remote controll, or you just use a suicide crew like on 9/11., or the Japanese kamikaze planes. The most damage is done by a burst in the air a few thousand feet above the target. Again, blowing up the pkane at the right altitude eliminates worrying about a bomb drop and altitude detonator. You don’t even beed to have the detonator controls all nicely wired inside an aeridynamic shell. Just use your bench test bomb, installed on the passenger deck of a Boeing 767.

    There will be a very short window between having enough U235 or Pu239 for a bomb and having a bomb.

  • Gerald Smith

    Biden calling Ryan “my friend” and then ridiculing him as he did, reminded me of another “friendly” discussion 2000 years ago: when Judas kissed Jesus.