Slaughter In Kentucky
Paul Ryan, as this is written at 11:17 p.m. eastern time, is taking a shower. He has to get all the dirt and grime off after Joe Biden wiped the floor with him at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
Consider the common critique of the Obama-Romney debate. Romney was engaged and enjoying himself; Obama detached, looking as if he was bored; Romney plain spoken, Obama caught up in bland detail; Romney, optimistic, Obama mundane; Romney in control, Obama dominated.
Now substitute Biden for Romney and Ryan for Obama. Now double it. In election cycles past, Republicans and the news media have happily trumped the "gloom and doom Democrats" meme. But tonight (debate transcript here) it was Democrat Joe Biden who pointed out
And I've never met two guys who're more down on America across the board. We're told everything's going bad. There are 5.2 million new jobs, private-sector jobs. We need more, but 5.2 million -- if they'd get out of the way, if they'd get out of the way and let us pass the tax cut for the middle class, make it permanent, if they get out of the way and pass the -- pass the jobs bill, if they get out of the way and let us allow 14 million people who are struggling to stay in their homes because their mortgages are upside down, but they never missed a mortgage payment, just get out of the way.
Stop talking about how you care about people. Show me something. Show me a policy. Show me a policy where you take responsibility.
Eugene Robinson, commenting at 12:25 a.m. (eastern) summarized succinctly: "They want to be critical, but they don't want to do anything different." Only Joe Biden could have said it as well, and he may have.
Characteristically, Ryan stumbled into a discussion of the Administration's stimulus program, slamming "this. $90 billion in green pork to campaign contributors and special interest groups," to which Biden responded
And I love my friend here. I -- I'm not allowed to show letters but go on our website, he sent me two letters saying, "By the way, can you send me some stimulus money for companies here in the state of Wisconsin?" We sent millions of dollars. You know..
After Ryan admitted to moderator Martha Raddatz that he had asked for stimulus funds, Biden added
I love that. I love that. This was such a bad program and he writes me a letter saying -- writes the Department of Energy a letter saying, "The reason we need this stimulus, it will create growth and jobs." His words. And now he's sitting here looking at me.
It is a truism of American politics that Republicans hold the advantage on taxes. Not so on Thursday night as the V.P. explained
We want to extend permanently the middle-class tax cut for -- permanently, from the Bush middle-class tax cut. These guys won't allow us to. You know what they're saying? We say "let's have a vote -- let's have a vote on the middle-class tax cut and let's have a vote on the upper (ph) tax cut; let's go ahead and vote on it."
They're saying no. They're holding hostage the middle class tax cut to the super wealthy. And on top of that, they've got another tax cut coming that's $5 trillion that all of the studies point out will in fact give another $250 million -- yeah, $250,000 a year to those 120,000 families and raise taxes for people who are middle income with a child by $2,000 a year.
This is unconscionable. There is no need for this. The middle class got knocked on their heels. The great recession crushed them. They need some help now. The last people who need help are 120,000 families for another -- another $500 billion tax cut over the next 10 years.
The Wisconsin congressman was so out of his element, so flummoxed that he forgot to mention that in Charlotte on October 2, the Vice-President himself had remarked "How they can justify — how they can justify raising taxes on the middle class that's been buried the last four years. How in Lord's name can they justify raising their taxes with these tax cuts?"As Barack Obama failed to repeat during last week's debate some of Mr. Romney's most outrageous comments, so did Paul Ryan miss his golden opportunity.
And dominance was even more demonstrated when talk turned to Afghanistan. After Ryan was unable to enunciate a clear policy, Biden asserted "That's why we should send Americans in to do the job, instead of the- you'd rather Americans be going in doing the job instead of the trainees." Confused, Ryan stated "No. We are already sending Americans to do the job, but fewer of them. That's the whole problem," to which Biden responded "That's right. We're sending in more Afghans to do the job. Afghans to do the job."
The thoughtful, boy wonder of the Republican Party believes "the whole problem" is fewer Americans are being sent into combat. That will go over so well with Independents.
At another point, the Democrat argued "The last thing America needs is to get in another ground war in the Middle East, requiring tens of thousands, if not well over 100,000 American forces." That hit the right note among Americans of almost all political stripes, suffering from battle fatigue and just plain tired of war.
Shortly after the debate concluded, NBC's Chuck Todd stated that Ryan had accomplished his objective, to "do no harm." And sure, the nominee didn't blurt out a racial epithet, dribble, or burst into tears, though at times he appeared he was about to. But Todd concluded accurately that Joe Biden "controlled the debate, controlled the agenda," and for now, that will do just fine.