Friday, October 12, 2012

Roadkill Ryan

Allowed an opportunity by Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski noted of Representative Paul Ryan, Vice President Biden "ate him for dinner, then spit him out on the table."

Grudgingly, much of the mainstream media is acknowledging that if it was to be assessed "on points," the vice-presidential debate last night was won by Joe Biden.  Yes, on points: and in Super Bowl 20 (1986) in New Orleans, the Chicago Bears won "on points," 46-10; in Super Bowl 35 fifteen years later (but you knew that), the Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants (slim solace for a Philadelphia Eagles fan), 34-7.     The front-page of the venerable The Philadelphia Inquirer (whose editorial board skews Democratic) was not atypical with its headline last Thursday "Romney Puts Heat on Obama" and today, "Biden, Ryan spur on issues."

As Salon's Joan Walsh noted, "the pearl-clutchers might have the vapors" as "pundits squabbled about Biden’s delivery, and Fox’s Chris Wallace declared 'I’ve never seen a candidate as disrespectful as Biden.'"   Chris might want to watch the face-offs on some of the Sunday morning news talks shows, perhaps even his own, at which time he might notice politicians chuckling at the statements of the guy from the other party (not if "the other guy" is a woman, however; that would be considered disrespectful).

Despite being the deer caught in the headlights, Ryan did try, at one point inserting his rehearsed line "I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way."  But Biden immediately responded "But I always say what I mean.  And so does Romney."

That hits at a major electoral strength of the Republican- that he really, couldn't mean all those extreme, radical things he has said.   Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, A Prayer for the City, and described here (in an otherwise magnificent take-down) as "the brilliant, narrative journalist," recently endorsed Romney.  He reasoned "I believe that Romney's move to the center is not yet another flip-flop sleight of hand, perhaps naively.  I believe he will send to the political Guantanamo those dirty old white men of the party ready to bomb Iran."  

Those sleights-of-hand are proving convenient for Romney, and Slate's Dave Weigel explains Bissinger is "a low information voter who happens to be extraordinarily good at writing.  He saw Romney in the debate, and saw Obama, and said 'Jesus, really, that's the president right now?' There are millions of people like Bissinger."

(Bissinger, entertaining but not very informative, describes himself as "the afternoon talk show host for CBS WPHT-AM in Philadelphia."  He is, in fact, co-host of "The Buzz Bissinger Show with Steve Martorano" from 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.   Michael Smerconish, who has a periodic gig substituting for Chris Matthews on Hardball, holds down the 12:00-3:00 p.m. slot on WPHT and is syndicated nationally.  He is "the" afternoon talk show host on the station.)

In part, Democrats, or liberal pundits, have themselves to blame.    Though most Republicans are reacting to Ryan's failure in much the same way as Wallace of GOP TV, Obama partisans responded to the President's failure a week earlier by publicly panicking while admitting that it would bolster Romney's campaign.   It might not be surprising, then, that there are only a few mainstream journalists, such as Brzezinski and Chuck Todd (who commented "this was Joe Biden's debate; Paul Ryan was at it"), who are acknowledging what they saw.  

Meanwhile, more are bending over backwards to avoid offending the GOP. Otherwise, they might otherwise be frozen out by Republicans, as trade associations and corporate lobbyists were by Tom DeLay as a tactic of his K Street Project.   Or they might be subjected to intimidation, as Mitt Romney effectively displayed against Jim Lehrer in the first debate.  Hopefully, the public recognized, as journalism professor Allan Schroeder wrote at CNN's site, "For much of the debate, the super-charged veep kept his opponent in a defensive crouch.  At times it looked as if Ryan was afraid Biden might ground him and take away the car keys."

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