With the recent exception of Dick Cheney, vice presidents don’t matter that much. Frankly, I’m not sure facts really matter that much either. So what exactly is going to happen at the vice presidential debate tonight? If all goes well, tonight should feel like a college sophomore finally confronting his wacky uncle about politics.
The nephew, Paul Ryan, is both intelligent and promising — but he’s also a college sophomore. The uncle, Joe Biden, has always seemed just a bit off from the rest of the family and frequently makes inappropriate comments and shares embarrassing family stories.
Yes, I’m certain there will be plenty of talk tonight about Ryan’s proposed reform of Medicare to make it a voucher system. Biden will probably be unable to go toe-to-toe with Ryan on statistics, but he will be able to smirk and shake his head as if to say, “Ah, youth is wasted on the young. He has so much to learn!"
What will also be interesting to watch is the way in which both nephew and uncle talk about their significant others. After all, the wives are the ones running the show. Ryan’s college girlfriend may be confused as to who she is, but she’s certainly enthusiastic. And Uncle Joe may have great stories to tell about his time with Aunt Barry, but even he’ll have to admit she’s not perfect.
Needless to say, I’m looking forward to this family reunion.
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UPDATE: 9:35 I mean, Ryan clearly had it way more together. He certainly knows his facts, but he just seemed a bit smarmy. Biden was flustered and visibly angry, frankly rude and interrupting all the time. I stand by my original analysis. It's like a sophomore political science major came home for fall break and cornered his slightly buzzed uncle about politics. Facts be damned, it makes for good television.
9:32 It's over!
9:27 My drinky metalhead friend studies cellular biology and is tracking this debate on Xbox Live. He informed me of a few controller-voted polls:
9:25 Ryan engages in some classic 'Bama bashing
9:23 Biden: "Veterans and the middle class!"
9:16 Site went down for a bit... I swear I was still watching and didn't flip to Nic Cage on the TV Guide Channel. I really don't like these, "What are your Catholic politics?" questions. Church and state are separated for a reason. Biden seems to get it, although he doesn't have a cute embryonic nickname handy.
9:07 Evidently war is fine so long as non-Americans are on the front lines.
9:05 There is a season for everything, even fighting in Afghanistan!
8:59 Everything just got so quiet. Evidently Afghanistan has a sobering effect. I wonder if we could discuss Afghan tax policy and get to a reasonable solution.
8:56 ad nauseum
8:54 When there are no words, there's Twitter.
8:52 The college sophomore has successfully cornered his crazy uncle. Mom: "Shut up, Joe!"
8:49 I've completely tuned out. The only way to seriously debate facts and figures is with ink and paper. This is ridiculous.
8:46 My mom knows what's up: "Shut up. Too much math."
8:44 Biden seriously cannot stop interrupting.
8:42 I'm 22. I don't expect anything I pay the Federal Government for the rest of my life to ever help me. Neither candidate's plan is going to change that expectation or probable fact.
8:38 All right. I seriously can't keep track of all this BS, so I'm going to start paraphrasing each candidate's statement. Ryan: "We don't have the money to keep doing what we're doing." Biden: "I--- no--- uh-uh--- balogney!"
8:36 Biden pulling out the "I remember when I debated Sarah Palin!" reference and then continues to pull out points number one and number two.
8:34 Paul Ryan seems calm and prepared and just a bit pedantic.
8:31 Joe Biden just seems angry but oddly endearing.
8:27 Personal anecdotes about the candidates really give me a clue as to how their policies would affect the country.
8:25 If I were playing the drinking game, I'd be dead. Biden has hit every single talking point he possibly could.
8:22 "What are you saying about starting a war with my country? Wait, I must have mistaken you for the Commander-in-Chief."
8:17 "How much do you love Israel and hate Iran? Go!" Biden: "A lot, okay?" Ryan: "WAY MORE!"
8:14 I really hope Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is watching this in 3D back home in Iran.
8:10 Reagan's name has already been invoked albeit in passing. The gauntlet has been thrown.
8:08 Paul Ryan is big-eyed and on the offense, a lot like a college sophomore home on break. He seems to have a lot of "respect" for Iraq and Afghanistan. I guess that makes the moderator a thirty-something female cousin who's trying to keep the peace. Good to see Biden is laughing.
8:05 All right, Biden. We don't like you for your ability to reiterate all the relevant talking points. Take a drink and loosen your tie!
8:02 My mom thinks it's a little too convenient that both Obama and Biden won the coin toss to talk first. The candidates are sitting together at a table! Kiddy games.
7:55 Last minute full disclosure, people. I'll be watching the debates with my mother. She may vote straight-ticket Republican, but she comes to an incredibly nuanced and libertarian understanding of issues whenever we talk. It's frankly remarkable. Also, I've started watching Dexter and am now halfway through the third season. You never know how a show about a sociopathic serial killer might apply to tonight's debate!
7:25 Onion Politics should have a mighty fine take on tonight from the looks of it.
7:11 This tweet got me thinking...
Tonight would be epic if there were one podium with two microphones so this thing could debate itself.
7:04 I can't decide which part of this tweet I like the most. Is it the sense of civic responsibility, the awkward wording or the source himself, @Dfunky526 aka Tubby Dickens? So tough!
6:57 The losing candidate from last election's debate should moderate this one. I'm confident ratings would double if Sarah Palin were asking the questions tonight.
6:49 Another way this debate could be better is with bad lip reading built into it, either as a bottom-of-the-screen ticker or en SAP.
5:56 Another way this debate could be improved is through extensive corporate tie-ins. Obviously, P90X would be all over Paul Ryan, but I think Bosley Hair Replacement could really benefit by backing Biden.
5:32 I realize this is a political statement, but I'd enjoy tonight's debate MUCH more if it were acted out with marionnettes and voiced over by the candidates in real time.
5:28 At some point, you're going to be tempted to flip channels. My picks for the night are the BET Hip-Hop Awards and Nicolas Cage's The Wicker Man on the TV Guide Channel.
5:14 I'm an American, so I'm unsatisfied with things even before I see them. As such, I'm going to post ways I think the debate could be made way better tonight.
4:38 CST It's important to remember the candidates who won't appear in tonight's debate, even in Jokerman font.