Were you bored by the last presidential debate? Unamused? Befuddled? Were you, as Maximus might say, not entertained?
Well then look no further than the 2012 vice presidential debate. In one corner, the world's chillest fictional bachelor, Joe Biden. In the other, a man so consumed by cutting taxes he was able to convince a man who loves Big Bird to threaten to close down PBS, Paul Ryan. There won't be lectures on tax policy or meandering attempts at inspiratinal rhetoric. This is gonna be a knock down, drag 'em out brawl. A vice presidential free-for-all, with the winner one step closer to sitting around waiting to cast the deciding vote in the Senate, if ever a tie-breaker is actually needed. It's must see political theatre. It's an ideological battle of epic proportions.
It's a big f#@*ing deal.
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Biden says that things were bad when they started, and the administration has tried to cushion the ones who suffered the most. Brings up the 47% comment, claims Romney's "talking about the people who built this country." Paul Ryan's Ayn Rand id is screaming right now.
Ryan says Americans deserve better, and offers "real reforms." Touts Romney's experience and solutions, calls him a "job creator." Stresses that they can create a dynamic economy with jobs, and will "take responsibility," instead of blaming others.
What would the candidates bring to the table that no one else would? That's the last question. I'm not going to dignify it with my live-blogging! That'll make Martha Raddatz think twice!
For real, though, Raddatz has done an exceptional job throughout.
American soldier writes in, complaining about the negativity of the campaign. Boo-hoo. Biden says we only have one obligation - we have to protect those in harm's way. And if he has to sling mud to do it, damnit, he's willing to make that sacrifice. (OK, maybe he didn't say that.) Goes back to the middle class/upper class divide at the end, bringing home his point he's covered over the entire debate.
Ryan says that Obama is someone who paints his opponents as someone to run from, given that he has accomplished so little. Criticizes Obama's failures. So, basically, both VP candidates just reinforced that whole divisiveness criticsm. Way to go guys.
Will Romney/Ryan return abortion decisions to the states. Ryan certainly implies it, without directly saying it. Biden says "no," outright.
How did religion shape views on abortion? Ryan claims that faith informs people in how they act, by taking care of the vulnerable and having a chance at life. However, says science is another reason why he believes abortion is wrong.
Biden says his religion defines who he is, which is why he only listens to Christian Rock. Because he knows just how horrible that music can be, he is in favor of abortion. Also, he refuses to impose his religious beliefs on others, and stuff. It's a position between women and their doctors.
Ryan claims that the US should not have waited for Russia to give the green light to assist Syrians. What's his qualifications for military intervention? "Strategic national interests of the country." No humanitarian reasons? "Each country has a different situation." Huh.
Should the US intervene in Syria? Biden - "it's a different country." Deep. Insightful. Claims the administration is working with the people in the region to determine what side deserves the help, to prevent extremists from taking over. "The last thing America needs is another ground war in the Middle East."
Ryan says that the US "shouldn't outsource" foreign decisions to countries like Russia. Says the longer the war has gone on, the more extremists go in. It would have been easier to identify allies if we had a better plan to begin with, instead of waiting for the UN. Biden says the US doesn't go through the UN when it comes to aid and training for the forces who their allies believe are the "free" forces. So basically, he's supporting the Syrian Han Solos and Luke Skywalker.
Sorry for the delay, had trouble logging on.
Anyway, what have I missed? Nothing. Cool. We've been going back and forth about Afghanistan. Biden wants to leave. Ryan kind of wants to leave, but not really. Moving on...
Ryan says we need to maintain the gains we've made. Name drops Afghan locations. But Biden shows him up - "I've been there 20 times." Also, says the only reason we were there was to get the people who killed Americans. "It's their responsibility to take care of their own security." Wants American troops out by 2014.
Ryan says that Obama administration wants to cut a total of $1 billion from the military. Is asked how to justify an increase in military spending while trying to cut government expenditures, given there is no immediate major military situation. Ryan claims cuts invite weakness, believes in "peace through strength."
biden points out cuts are part of a debt deal Republicans asked for. Claims the military says they need a smaller, leaner army. Says it was the decision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
How will Ryan pay for the 20% tax cut? Getting pushed right now, isn't giving specifics. Going in circles. Biden chuckling. Biden, "let me translate." "Reagan gave specifics." Oh damn, Biden just name-dropped Reagan. Jacking the conservative swag! Attacks Romney's tax rate, claims that people who take advantage of loopholes won't close those loopholes. Claims to cut tax rates by 20%, you'd need to cut mortgage assistance. Ryan says that's not true. Biden presses him to give an example. He can't. Ryan's in a corner, panicking and flailing.
Ryan trying to use some of that Reagan swag. Biden continues to fluster Ryan. Claims that if small businesses make less than $250,000, they won't be affected.
Biden says middle class taxes will be cut, Bush taxes will expire, taxes on millionaires will be raised. 120,000 families will get an additional $500 billion in tax cuts if the Bush tax cuts don't expire. Claims Republicans are holding hostage the middle class tax cut to the super wealthy. The middle class needs help, not 120,000 families with $500 billion tax cuts.
Ryan says that ta cuts created jobs; 7 million to be precise. Claims Obama will raise taxes on small business. Says how little taxes matter by contrasting how much government spends. Says taxes will ultimately hurt the middle class by preventing them from getting jobs. Claims average small business tax rates across the world are much smaller than the Obama administration's proposed tax rates.
Ryan claims he only wanted SS privatized for young people previously. Claims that now, younger people will have choice, and will raise the retirement age over time to SEVENTY!? Did he just say seventy!? Fuck that. Claims Biden is trying to scare voters away from the Republican party. Biden claims his reforms will cost more out-of-pocket.
Ryan says he appreciates Medicare, given what it's done for his mother and grandmother. But says that it's going to go bankrupt, along with SS. Claims the voucher system is about choice; total out-of-pocket coverage for the poor and sick. More coverage for the middle-class.
Biden claims they saved $716 billion by putting it back into Medicare, while cutting the costs. AARP endorsed those moves. Claims Medicare is set until 2024. Claims the voucher system cannot provide "guaranteed" services, and that care for the elderly will cost 20% more. Insists SS will not be privatized. "Imagine where all those seniors would be now if their money had been in the market," if Bush had his way with SS during his Presidency.
Ryan claims all the elderly will be covered, by taking subsidies from wealthy people. Claims his plan is bipartisan. Biden points out all Democrats who supported it have now disavowed it. Biden looks to the seniors watching, asks if they are being denied choices. The man knows how to play the game.
Biden doesn't doubt Romney's generosity, then counters with his own personal story of loss, when he lost a wife and daughter. Then says "I know [Romney] has no commitment to the auto industry," to all Americans, not just some. The man is spinning a narrative here, people. And he's doing it while upstaging a man who isn't doing a bad job; Ryan's just outclassed here. Says Republicans are "seized with concern about the debt they created."
Ryan counters that the economy has improved too slowly. Says his plan will create 12 million jobs in four years, and drop unemployment to 4%. Biden interrupts, says criticism of stimulus in unfounded, given that Ryan applied for stimulus money himself. Claims Ryan said he wanted the money to "create jobs." Says there was less than 4/10ths of cronyism and fraud in the program. Ryan says borrowing money from China was a bad idea. Biden counters that it prevented the economy going off the cliff.
Biden pushing to get unemployment under 6%, says he doesn't know when it will happen. Contextualizes the difficulty of recovery. Go back to characterizing Romney as someone who wanted to let Detroit go bankrupt. Criticizes Romney's 47% comment. Biden is bringing the heat. Wants a level playing field. Just scorched-Earth shit right here.
Ryan says unemployment has risen in Scranton, Ohio. Says that's where the country's going. Biden interrupts - "That's not true." Zing! Ryan goes on to his 5 point plan. People like numbers, so that sells with the TV audience. Ryan then goes into a touching story about Romney paying for some kids' college tuition when they're parents were in a car accident. Makes a gaffe joke. Biden counters, "but I always say what I mean."
What's worse: nuclear armed Iran or war in the Middle East? Ryan says nuclear Iran leads to nuclear arms race in Middle East. Biden counters that war should be a last measure. Claims the sanctions are crippling, Obama doesn't bluff, Iran isn't getting nukes and it won't come to war.
Ryan pressed on how he could disarm Iran quickly. Doesn't have an answer. Biden counters that economic pressures will bend the Ayatollah to the world's whims. Powerful job interceding in the question. "This is a bunch of stuff." Stuff obviously intended to be another word beginning with "s." Says everyone needs to chill, man, cause Iran isn't getting a weapon. Chuckles at Ryan's remark. Speaking of which.
That explains it. Biden closes with "facts matter." Burn.
Would a military strike against Iran be effective? Ryan says Obama has allowed Iran to move towards nuclear weapons. Claims he assisted in creating sanctions on Iran, claims Iran attempted to assassinate a Saudi on American soil. Biden's faces during these comments are hilarious.
Biden calls the sanctions the "most crippling sanctions" ever. Says the US and Israelis have the same view on Iranian nuclear capability: it's a ways off. Calls accusations otherwise "bluster."
Oh snap. Biden calls Ryan's comments "mularkey," claims America isn't weak, brought Russia and China to bring down devastating sanctions on Iran. (Devastating sanctions? Oxymoron.) Also, brings up that Ryan helped cut $300 billion from foreign security.
Ryan on whether America should apologize for burning Korans and pissing on dead Afghans? "Absolutely." But US should not apologize for its values. Back to Benghazi, he claims there were requests for more security.
The Gates of Hell
Oh damn, they open with the Benghazi attack. Unexpected. Biden carries on with the calm of a man who knows his foreign policy and, possibly, toked up prior to the debate. And he's already making political points, touting Obama's foreign policy victories. He name drops Bin Laden! (See, Obama, that wasn't so hard.) Threatens to "track [evil] to the gates of hell." Like a boss.
Ryan counters that there should have been superior security. Accuses the withdrawal of Afghanistan as projecting "weakness abroad." Says Obama's foreign policy is "unraveling" and making the US "less safe." Yep, I'm terrified living in the most powerful nation on Earth with a military larger than most countries. Downright terrified.
Oh, it's on. Both men come out and smile at each other in a manner that suggests anything but warm feelings.
A pundit says Biden needs to "smash the Etch-A-Sketch." I like this. There needs to be more smashing in these debates. Whoever can smash the most objects in the room wins the debate. I'm looking forward to President The Rock.
So, I will be watching the debate on CNN. Why? I don't really know. Their correspondent just claimed that Biden would seek to contrast the Obama administration's vision for America with Romney and Ryan's vision. Hard-hitting journalism there.
Seriously, do I have to keep doing the live-blog, or can I just upload these. Because this is much more fun.
Ah, you mean like you pretended it didn't exist when you were debating Romney?!?!
The italics are getting a workout today.
It's like the whole thing's a metaphor and Paul Ryan is the toilet. Or did I just blow your minds?!
The first person to point out that Phil Hughes needs to stop walking the leadoff hitter gets my vote.
He Misspelled "Tweeting," Obviously
The Deficit is EXPLODING!
The term "deficit reduction" has become one of the more important talking points in politics today, because the deficit is an evil thing that must be killed with fire and then buried in an unmarked grave so it can never been ressurected by thrill-seeking teenagers, only to awaken and kill them all, except the hot girl who's not a slut. Or something.
But is deficit reduction actually all that important? Perhaps not. That's not to say nothing should be done about it, but what does the deficit actually do to us? Not that much. It's an issue, but not to the extent that's been portrayed in media and politics lately.
This is trending on Twitter. I have no idea what it means. Most of the jokes are awful. Forget I mentioned this.
For The Ladies
Obama's taking the women's vote? Not if Ryan's got anything to say about it!
Peace, Love and Unimportance
Even if Biden does successfully attack Ryan, does it actually make a difference? After all, it's the Vice-Presidential debate. Two number 2's. Not exactly who viewers think make big differences in policy.
However, there are a number of factors at play here. Mitt Romney is seen as intelligent, but rudderless - Paul Ryan is seen, in many ways, as the man who will influence Romney the most in terms of domestic economic policy, which is the most appealing issue in this campaign. Attacking him is an attack on Romney. Moreover, while it's unlikely Biden will be able to generate any substantial momentum for the Obama campaign, he may be able to stymie the surge Romney and Ryan have been riding since the last debate. That could reset the field, much as Romney's performance in the first debate did, even if it doesn't propel Obama to the top of it.
Is Paul Ryan a Crazy Person?
Or at least that's the conclusion VICE draws in an article analyzing Ryan's proposed budget plan. The article comes to the conclusion that Ryan's budget plan is not mathematically sound. One of the biggest ironies of the plan is that it claims to come from a moral imperative - capitalism is good, debt and socialism are bad - while a) espousing positions that are immoral from any number of rational perspectives and arguably some theological ones as well and b) fails to eliminate the debt, which is what this whole thing was supposed to do in the first place.
Even though Mitt Romney has claimed he won't adopt the Ryan budget - not that he's come out with a budget plan in the meantime, however - appointing him as his VP nominee is a tacit approval of what Ryan has put forth. Biden will have a chance to confront him in a manner that President Obama failed to do in the first debate.
Speaking of OJB
Some (in this case, Buzzfeed) are suggesting that because of Biden's public image as a gaffe-prone caricature, he's got the advantage of low expectations coming into the debate. As long as he doesn't fu- err, excuse me, screw up - like, for example, dropping the f-bomb on national television - his performance will be considered a success.
Of course, that's bullshit. You don't get to be the Vice President by being an idiot. (Well, you don't normally.) But this idea that Biden is some incompetent man-child incapable of basic policitcal functioning or holding his own in a debate is nonsense. He's an intelligent politician with a proven track-record of success in both domestic and foreign policy. He's an affable, down-to-Earth guy who can easily connect with the electorate in a manner that Obama, Romney and even Ryan cannot.
And he can spell 'potato'.
Onion Joe Biden
Quite possibly the greatest creation of the world's most prestigious satirical news organization, Onion Joe Biden. I'm eagerly awaiting what OJB's going to come up with tonight.
Onion Paul Ryan is... well, let's just say he's a strict, disciplined fiscal conservative. Emphasis on the discipline.
Why was this debate scheduled against Thursday Night Football? Yeah, I know, nobody gets NFL Network, it's a game between the Steelers and Titans, I don't have any fantasy players going tonight so I shouldn't be complaining, but still. It's football. You just don't go head-to-head with football on television unless you're willing to concede that plenty of people aren't going to watch your program. And isn't a debate between the two men who have the potential to ascend to the second-highest office of the most powerful nation in the world a program that should be watched? Just a thought.