I’ll outsource detailed debate commentary to Joe Patrice, who knows a lot more about debate than I do. I generally thought Biden did a good job challenging Ryan’s lies, which is the only way for Democrats to win. It’s pretty clear Republicans did not like Biden’s affect, and they’re certainly trying to make that the focus. We’ll see whether they can move that into the mainstream. Since Ryan was also smirking and being a jerk on occasion (“Joe”), the MSM coverage I’ve seen so far has been comfortable in their usual rut, “both sides do it”.
Martha Raddatz performed the role of a professional journalist. Sadly, we see that so infrequently that her performance will be celebrated and/or berated, depending on how you feel about professional journalism.
There was a lot of foreign policy discussion, and the issues Bernard mentioned yesterday cropped up. Other than Benghazi, I didn’t see Ryan make a lot of headway with his foreign policy points. Romney and Ryan have a foreign policy position that is factually almost identical to Obama’s when addressing the current global crises, but they want to sell the notion that it’s much tougher. Ryan didn’t make the sale. The Afghanistan discussion was ridiculous: We’re supposed to keep our withdrawal a big secret when 49 allies are involved? We should go to war when it’s in our “national interest”? Goddam, that’s a revelation.
Maybe the Romney team will come up with better talking points on foreign policy, but Biden and Raddatz both keyed in on the major issue: what would you do differently? Ryan didn’t have an answer because the fact is that there’s very little they would do differently, and if they start proposing different solutions, it’s all a bunch of neocon war talk that’s totally unpalatable to a country that’s sick of the bloody waste in the Middle East.
(Obligatory disclaimer: This is not to say that I’m happy that there’s almost no daylight between Obama and Romney on current foreign policy tactics.)