Thursday’s debate is shaping into a media blast. Generally, Obama supporters want blood. Republicans want to smirk more. So this Thursday, at 9 p.m., we get another "debate." Vice President Joe Biden versus U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for V.P. Location: Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Moderator: Martha Raddatz, ABC senior foreign affairs correspondent. Topics: all things foreign and domestic.
The are a few more aspects of the debate I did not address yesterday that I will address today.
1) Experience in debate.
Biden has been through "debates" such as this—although it really is not a "debate," as I have previously written—in 1988 and 2008 when he ran for POTUS, and again in 2008 when he debated that formidable intellect that is Sarah Palin. He also has nearly 40 years’ experience in the United States Senate. Ryan has 14 years’ experience as a U.S. Rep and, from what I have read, only has been engaged in one campaign "debate," during his first campaign in 1998. Ryan, from what I can tell, never debated in high school or college. He graduated from Miami of Ohio. Miami generally has had a fine debate program, all the way from when I debated for DePauw in the 1970s through the early 1990s when I coached the debate team at I.U.P.U.I. There is no reference, in all his bio materials, to his having been on the Miami team. That experience might have been of some help to him now.
2) Experience in foreign policy.
Biden has been on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He also has had access to all that neat info that comes to one who is Vice President of the United States. Ryan has been a U.S. Rep who has wrestled with means by which he can cut the budget. Plus, Ryan has had to run for re-election every two years.
Martha Raddatz will have to assert herself as the moderator. In college audience debates the moderator wielded a gavel. Moderators in these "debates" should have mute buttons. I could not find a reference as to where Raddatz attended college. (If someone finds that, please let me know.) There were a lot of smear articles about her links to the "left wing" and to the Obama White House through her three marriages. She has been a female correspondent in the Middle East. I would think she will have the guts to step on toes and keep these two gentlemen in line. The pressure certainly is on her to do so.
If format proceeds as it did in the debate last week, I would look for Biden to be given the opening. If he gives a solid statement that aggressively states the achievements of this administration, without attacking his opponent, Ryan might be lured into the first attack. If so, that could set the table for a Biden win. Biden need only respond to attacks. When one fences, a most effective way to achieve a "touch" is on a riposte: opponent lunges, one parries and thrusts. Touch/point. If Biden then asks Ryan for details of Ryan’s and Romney’s plans for the U.S., things could get bleak for Ryan.
I do not share Paul Ogden’s opinion of Ryan. Ryan is smart enough to play the system. Biden is smart, too. Certainly he has played the system as well, having been ensconced in its lofty heights for more than four decades. But there are smarts one acquires when on one’s feet in front of a large audience and across the stage from an opponent. Biden has done that. Ryan has not.
The lights come in at one’s eyes on the stage. The effect can be confusing. In stand-up comedy it is especially unnerving. There is hostility on the other side of those lights. Here, there is the audience in the auditorium in Danville, Kentucky, and the audience across the country.
I will stand by my pick: Biden by 7 ½.