The Bully vs. the Wonk: The Veep’s strategy: Show contempt for your opponent

Posted by on Oct 12, 2012 at 7:59 am

So now we know what Team Obama’s comeback plan was following last week’s defeat in the Presidential debate. Unleash Joe Biden to interrupt, filibuster, snarl, smirk and otherwise show contempt for Paul Ryan. The carnival act contributed to the least illuminating presidential or vice presidential debate of our lifetimes.

From the opening bell, Mr. Biden seemed to take to heart the interpretation that President Obama offered this week of his debate performance—that he had been “too polite.” That was not a problem for the Veep, whose marching orders were clearly to steamroll the overmatched moderator Martha Raddatz and dismiss everything Mr. Ryan said with a condescending sneer.

By unofficial media counts, Mr. Biden interrupted the Republican some 80 to 100 times. Mr. Ryan let the bully get away with too much for our tastes, at least until he finally pushed back on the interruptions or until Mr. Biden lost steam in the last half hour. But as anyone who’s been in a tavern past midnight understands, it’s hard to win a fight with a guy who is shouting from the corner bar stool.

No doubt the performance cheered Democrats who needed cheering after last week, but we wonder how well it played with independents or undecided voters who tuned in to learn something.

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