A contemptuous Joe Biden showed up in Kentucky on Thursday, and spent 90 minutes talking over Paul Ryan, talking over moderator Martha Raddatz, and at times, remarkably, even talking over himself. This is what counts as a "win" for the Obama campaign at this stage in the 2012 campaign.
The judgment of the late-night pundits was that Mr. Biden had done well for his party, and helped to right the Obama ship. Note, however, that Mr. Biden didn't get those accolades because he had made a better case to Americans on jobs or entitlement reform or deficit-cutting. Mr. Biden barely offered any positive argument for how the administration he serves would revive a dismal economy, or reform the Medicare or Social Security programs that are going bankrupt, or fix soaring deficits.
In that regard, the Biden performance was nothing more than a nastier repeat of Barack Obama's event in Denver. It wasn't that the president had an off night or altitude sickness (as suggested by Al Gore). Mr. Obama's problem last week was that he didn't have answers to Mitt Romney's challenges. In the aftermath of a debate, if your campaign's main theme is Big Bird, you have a problem.
Within the first few minutes of this debate, it what clear that Mr. Biden's one and only strategy was to wrap as many scare quotes around the Romney-Ryan team as humanly possible in a limited time period. In his first answer in the domestic policy section, Mr. Biden packed so many diatribes into his opening lines—Mr. Romney would let Detroit go "bankrupt"; he'd let mortgage owners sink; he'd throw the elderly under the bus; he didn't care about he 47%; he was flacking for millionaires—that the worry was he'd run out of breath. He didn't.
Amid it all, too, were the constant quips designed to ram home the Obama campaign's recent desperate strategy to paint the Romney-Ryan campaign as "liars" and flip-floppers. Mr. Biden never used that word itself, but his intent was clear. "Malarkey," he stated. "Incredible," he snorted. "Not true, not true," he insisted. "I may be mistaken: [Romney] changes his mind so often, I may be wrong," he explained. "I never say anything I don't mean," he said by way of contrast. And then said it again, in case anyone missed it.
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