Vice-President Joe Biden was the clear winner of Thursday’s debate in Kentucky…if it is being scored for points on rude interruptions, condescending quips, and nervous laughing tics.
By seeming unhinged at times, he made Paul Ryan look like the elder statesman in the room and it made The Brody File wonder the following: This guy is one heartbeat away from the presidency? Oy-gevalt.
Look, I’ve interviewed Biden before. Personally, the guy is a hoot and is authentic as they come. He is who he is and doesn’t apologize for it nor should he. He’s actually very refreshing when it comes to stale politicians who just give canned answers. But Biden was over the top Thursday night. He had no desire to allow Ryan to finish a thought let alone a few sentences before interrupting him and taking over.
I’m sure Biden’s antics played fabulously with the liberal base and made them forget President Obama’s disastrous performance in Denver last week. But by going over the top, Biden may have actually helped Ryan because the contrast between the two made the younger politician look to be a strong, calm, reasonable alternative.
Ryan, for the most part stayed away from lashing back at Biden and in the process helped himself. After Romney’s strong debate performance last week, Ryan’s outing Thursday night helped march the ball down the field with voters by giving the GOP ticket a look of competency and composure. That should play well with Independent voters looking for a credible substitute for Obama/Biden.
The best way to describe Biden on Thursday night is to invoke a food analogy. Think of Biden as a McFlurry desert at McDonalds. The VP can come across to middle-of-the-road voters just fine if he is the “snack size” variety but if he tries to “Super Size” himself, he’s in trouble. In other words, small doses of Biden work but a giant, laughing, condescending, and rude Biden does not.
Biden’s behavior is unfortunate for the campaign because he had a few good isolated moments where he really did a pretty respectable job of connecting with middle class voters when he spoke directly into the camera. He also spoke forcefully and knowledgeably (whether you agree with him or not) on a myriad of issues.
But you have to wonder if style will trump substance in this case because his performance was just so over the top. It has the potential to rub many the wrong way.
This VP debate isn’t going to change the contours of the race. A vice-presidential debate just doesn’t do that. And while Biden didn’t commit any noticeable one-liner gaffes, he didn’t do the campaign any favors because after this debate the talk will be about his zany performance rather than the substance of what he was saying.
That does not constitute a good night.