Paul Ryan, Master Debater


So far, today, Joe Biden is taking a lot of undeserved heat from conservatives, over his debate etiquette—poor Mr. Ryan came armed with his Mr. Serious pomp and circumstance, his note-taking utensils and gallons of H2O, ready to take his rightful place at the grown-ups table.  And then he opened his mouth . . .

And, of course Joe laughed—Paul Ryan was laughable, it is simply absurd that any American political party would consider a candidate like Paul Ryan a viable contender for its highest office.  And no, I didn’t just, make a mistake.  I know that Paul Ryan is only running for vice-president but candidates for V-POTUS are always only a heart attack, a plane crash or an assassin’s bullet away from becoming President.

It is an irresponsible voter that dismisses vice-presidential candidates as less-important walk-ons who can get by with flyweight qualifications and make it up with on-the-job training. Just as it is an irresponsible political party that fields a two-dimensional vice-presidential candidate to serve as window dressing to round out the slate’s appeal to the base (but then, again, this is the same party that put up Sarah Palin, so . . . ).

Whether it’s earned or not, Ryan came into this debate with the reputation of being a fiscal whiz kid who tended toward wonky bloviating but made up for it by being “personable.” Now in the circles Ryan hangs in, I suspect “personable” means something like he’s a non-threatening party-line voter.  Perhaps he has a few peculiar views—like the kid in your organic chemistry class who’s only form of social interaction was proselytizing about the largely unappreciated beauty of the carbon atom—but you tolerated him, in a group setting, because he was harmless and seemed to know more than anyone else about carbon.

Ryan has spent a good bit of time in Congress, but his experience has been somewhat circumscribed by movement conservative issues and their fiscal ramifications.  As all good conservative culture warriors know, one way to influence social outcomes is through the budget - he who controls the purse strings, etc.  This is what Ryan cares about and what he has focused on during his Congressional career.  In other words, the economy, to Ryan, is a means to an end—his Rand-ian world-view—by doing an end-run around the need to espouse unpalatable social policy. 

For example, a large percentage of the population love Social Security, so one can’t just dash in and declare recipients irresponsible moochers and pull the rug out.  But one can sell the idea that by changing the structure and oversight of the program, everyone wins—seniors and the disabled can keep something that will still be called “Social Security” by the “free market,” the deficit will go down and a new American service industry will be born.  Everyone understands what Social Security is, only a handful of people understand the economic mechanics of Social Security.  Far less resistance arises when one assails the economics of the program rather than the program’s existence.  Witness how an entire generation of Americans were turned into concern trolls over Social Security and Medicare solvency.

Paul Ryan also provided Biden with lots of laughs regarding Ryan’s love-hate affair with stimulus dollars, ditto his love-hate affair with the now-famous $716 billion dollar “Obama heist” from the Medicare fund that Ryan thought was a swell idea to stick in his own budget plan.  Biden was like a cat playing with a half-dead mouse on the Romney/Ryan tax plan and its too-hard-to-explain, money-making loophole closures. 

And, as Charles Pierce of Esquire pointed out in his excellent post-mortem:

For one brief moment, he [Biden] almost got Ryan to commit to Social Security privatization again. You could hear the screams from Romney headquarters all the way up the Charles to where I was watching.

But the real fun didn’t come until Uncle Joe sent Ryan out into the weeds, without a weed-whacker, to try and find his position on Afghanistan.  The legendary Ryan compusure cracked, he stepped up his already impressive water intake and stammered himself right into Joe’s trap regarding the reality of the mission in Afghanistan, questioning whether Ryan preferred that American soldiers or Afghan soldiers lives are put on the line, at this point, to defend the Karzai regime.

At that point, Pierce had another memorable line that will resonate with older voters:

He [Ryan] kept rambling about maintaining the country’s “credibility” until, if you closed your eyes, he started to sound like Robert McNamara in 1965.

The only thing that was impressive about Ryan’s comments on Afghanistan was his rather remarkable command of Pashtun, as he ripped off Afghan place names like a tour guide.  Good coaching, I guess . . .

Martha Raddatz changed subject and asked Ryan point blank, “. . .  what would be worse, another war in the Middle East or Iran with a nuclear bomb?

Ryan didn’t even have to think about that one before shooting off a really ill-advised reply that Iran with a nuclear bomb was, of course, worse.  Of course, 75% of the American people, to include Joe and Martha, thought he’d completely lost it, at that point, but he stuck to his guns (no pun, etc). 

There was plenty of comedic potential in Raddatz’s last few questions—the totally inappropriate “As a Catholic” question and the invitation to burst into an interpretive dance routiner entitled “I’m a man, yes I am . . . ” but both Ryan and Biden flew past those, quickly (probably due to the sudden effects of weightlessness).

Ryan did, however, get the last laugh, with his horribly stagey final comment segment—obviously someone coached him to lock those zombie eyes on the camera and speak his prepared statement “with feeling” to the Murikan people.”

And it was funny . . . the thing that wouldn’t be funny is if enough voters believe that this is the “right stuff” to sit in the Oval Office as Commander-in-Chief.  No! that would not be funny at all . . .


Posted by Bette Noir on 10/12/12 at 12:12 PM • Permalink

Categories: PoliticsBarack ObamaJoe BidenElection '12Paul Ryan

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At least we know he’s mastered the “winter” part of nuclear winter. Is that picture up there the St Patrick’s Day page of the Paul Ryan Beefcake calendar? Because the potato-chip hat isn’t really working.

Mansplaining Paul Ryan is pretty funny.

Comment by HumboldtBlue on 10/12/12 at 01:36 PM

@HB heh. thanx for the link—it is pretty funny.

Alex Winter @alxwinter

The good news is Bill and Ted may ride again. The bad news is i’ve been replaced.

Paul Ryan is a punk and Joe Biden owned him.

And no amount of right-wing whining, scolding, and rationalizing is going to change that.

As Frank wrote, so the photos show

Comment by HumboldtBlue on 10/12/12 at 03:53 PM

@ Frank Stone & @HB liberals sure know how to read human behavior—can’t take that away from us!

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