Political Animal


October 11, 2012 8:36 PM The Veep Debate Preview

By Ed Kilgore

I don’t have much of an idea what to expect tonight, other than Joe Biden exhibiting all the stylistic qualities Barack Obama failed to exhibit last week in Denver, and Paul Ryan trying to maintain the Safe Change rap despite his radical record.

Based on Ezra Klein’s highly educated evaluation of Ryan-the-Debater, I’d figure he will retreat deep into the weeds of numbers and conservative studies if pressed on his budget proposals. Anything to avoid the impression that he’d like to kill off the New Deal and Great Society legacies, though that’s the basis of his movement conservative street cred. He’s enough of a conservative hero, and adept enough at dog whistles, that he’s got a lot more running room than Romney had.

The aspect of the debate that has been vastly under-discussed is that half the time is supposed to be spent on foreign policy. This could help Ryan with the expectations game; if he holds his own in this area, he’ll get props for that even if he just parrots neocon talking points and/or echoes the congressional GOP claims that Obama’s weakness led to the killings in Benghazi.

Biden’s performance is hard to predict. He’s an accomplished debater, and for all the overwritten stuff about his gaffes, he can be an amazing talker. I’ll never forget happening upon him on CSPAN in 1992, when that year’s big Crime Bill was on the floor, and sitting there transfixed for more than an hour as he veered from very wonky discussion of every detail of crime policy to hilarious comments about “Moses” (Charlton Heston, speaking for the NRA) misstating the statistics of the community policing initiative.

It could get wild and wooly.

Back with live-blogging at 9:00 EDT.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • exlibra on October 11, 2012 8:56 PM:

    Re Biden as "amazing talker".. Your indelible -- and, obviously, favourable -- memory is of 1992. Mine -- far less kind -- is of 2005 (?) and the televised "interview" with John Roberts, candidate for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

    Biden's convoluted questions -- full of self satisfaction at his wit -- left almost no time for Roberts to reply. Which, apparently, suited the slick prick just fine -- he smirked more then, than he did ever before (or after). If I could have gotten *into* the TV set, I'd have strangled Biden with my bare hands, and I'm, usually, a peaceful person -- mild as milk and twice as bland.

    I think that was the last time I watched TV on purpose (other than catching a snippet while passing by the room while my husband was watching); watching TV was, obviously, bad for ex-libra's equilibrium :)

  • Sparko on October 11, 2012 9:26 PM:

    Biden kicking absolute ass so far. Wow.