1) Benghazi is a permanent draw: Paul Ryan did a fantastic job on the first question. Biden dodged the Benghazi issue and tried to pivot to better issues like pulling out of Iraq and killing bin Laden. Ryan stayed focused and brought it back to the attacks. Then Biden went after Ryan for voting against heightened State Department security and said their PR foibles were just a reflection of contemporaneous intelligence. Now, the Romney-Ryan ticket is stuck. They have the upper hand on facts, but to say that involves both a security failure and not trusting military and intelligence experts undermines waaayyy too many other arguments that both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to make.
2) Debate nerd talk real quick: Ryan hyped up an Iran brink so much that it swamped his solvency. In other words, he explained that Iran will have a nuclear weapon by March 2013. When Martha pointed asked Ryan how they would solve this between January 2013 and March 2013 we had to watch him say: “well, maybe we couldn’t solve Iran in the 2 months I said it would take for Iran to get a nuke, but…” In the words of Rick Perry, “Oops.”
3) Paul Ryan wants to pull out of Afghanistan…someday: Oh Jeez. Ryan says he wants to pull out in 2014…but not tell anyone. Does he want us to pull out in the middle of the night like the Baltimore Colts?
4) Paul Ryan gambled with house money: Remember when Obama let Romney off the hook on the mythical $716 Billion cut from Medicare. Not here. It was a bad decision. He walked into the 47% swing too. Then he allowed Biden to destroy him on Social Security and tried feebly to mention that he wouldn’t want to cut it because he benefited from it when his father died young — easily Ryan’s BEST POSSIBLE ARGUMENT — without ever mentioning that he a) benefited because Social Security benefits the children of deceased parents, which he specifically was and b) refused to say he wouldn’t STILL privatize social security. Offense-defense paradigm y’all — if you can’t do anything but be defensive and you can’t explain what you would do, you’re losing.
5) How to concede arguments: Biden waved off Raddatz calling out a Ryan lie because Biden expressed, “eh, I’m winning already, you can let this go” when Raddatz was going to push Ryan’s push to privatize Social Security after brutalizing him on Medicare vouchers. Ryan conceded an argument on Syria when he admitted that technically the two campaigns have no difference on the Syria redline and then said we should work with dissidents…which Biden just proved we already do. You can’t concede args you aren’t winning.
6) Joe Biden should smile less — get angry more: Biden smiled like the Cheshire Cat constantly early. Conservatives are complaining that Biden was too congenial early even though some cutaways didn’t demand it. Perhaps though he was trying to set up the contrast because Hulk-mode Biden was remarkably effective.
7) Haymaker moment: Biden asked Ryan for a “guarantee”: I’ll talk lawyer here. In a cross-examination if you don’t know the answer you’ll get, then don’t ask. Biden asked Ryan if he could “guarantee” that no one making less than $100K are going to get their loopholes taken away. Ryan couldn’t answer. If you ask for a guarantee in a debate you’d better know the answer you’re going to get. Huge gamble and Biden won big.
8) Joe Biden performed his role correctly: Biden never said anything without mentioning “Obama,” “the administration,” or “this administration.” Ryan did a great job early and late, but did allow himself to fall into a Marcellus Wallace-criticized world in the middle and tried to talk about his qualifications first. As a second instance of debate nerd talk: Joe Biden is the ideal 1AR, always mentioning his partner, extending every part of defense his 2A needs, and dropping offense all over the Neg flow.
9) Evidence: Wow. Ryan tosses out a lot of out-of-context numbers as a tactic. Biden not only knew every number, he called out Ryan for citing numbers from specific reports that conclude in favor of the administration. If I could have that command of facts at 69 I’ll be very happy.
10) Can we go ahead and declare Chris Van Hollen a BAWS: …and John Kerry a loser. Van Hollen prepped Biden as a doppelgänger of Paul Ryan in every form he could possibly take. John Kerry prepped Barack Obama as a stand-in for the dead fish Mitt Romney used to be and not who he could be. I’d bring in Van Hollen for the next set of debate prep sessions. Or…you know…stop the stale political thinking that the right way to prep for a debate is preparing for your opponent instead of the idealized, distilled perfection of the counter-argument. If you prep to beat the perfect opponent you will beat a subpar opponent. Why play down?
Non-Candidate BONUS) Martha Raddatz is awesome: So many times she asked both for specifics and to clarify why they are just agreeing under the guise of faux conflict. And every time it made for a better debate. She asked both sides “specifics” mid-answer several times. She took “sequestration of Defense spending” off the table because whatever both sides believe it is a point of agreement.
Non-Candidate BONUS 2) Rob Zerban wins big: Rob Zerban is running against Paul Ryan in Wisconsin. Ryan refuses to debate him, just as he has refused to debate any opponent since his first run. Ryan has taken to cutting any dissent out of his constituent meetings. His district is starting to turn on him. Joe Biden may have just won this for Zerban.
Non-candidate BONUS 3) Robert Bork still sucks: No further comment.