In a debate of style over substance, Joe Biden wins....

....and Paul Ryan proves that you can know the issues a bit too well.

FLORIDA, October 12, 2012 — I figured that this was going to happen.

Whether the topic at hand pertained to fiscal, foreign, or social policy, Joe Biden was the man whose answers you were most likely to remember. Many pundits have made an issue out of his smirking between questions, but this will likely be forgotten by undecided voters.

What they are all but certain to recall, though, is the Vice President’s speaking to, rather than at or over, them. On numerous occasions, he articulated his ideas about the tough issues directly to the audience. Insofar as Medicare and Social Security are concerned, this should pay off in dividends.

Biden’s ability to relate with prospective voters who are light on policy knowledge but extremely concerned about policy itself was nothing short of remarkable. Even though more than a bit of what he said is out of alignment with the facts, he articulated his beliefs in an earnest, if not heartfelt, manner.

The same cannot be said for Paul Ryan.

During the debate’s early stages, Ryan seemed to be a bit uncomfortable. He spoke in clipped sentences and, more often than not, sounded as if he were reading from a postgraduate economics textbook. His answers were probably more factual than Biden’s, but if most could not understand what he was talking about, then that is that.

Ryan also responded to Martha Raddatz’s powerful question regarding abortion rights in a horrid fashion. Instead of simply restating Mitt Romney’s comments on Tuesday, he negated to specify if pro-choice Americans should worry about whether abortion would remain legal under a Romney-Ryan administration.

Biden soon stepped in and clearly explained the likelihood of this. His case was tremendously convincing, much to the Republican ticket’s detriment.

All things considered, neither campaign can walk away from Danville claiming a decisive victory. Both Biden and Ryan unwittingly publicized their unique professional weaknesses. The former, however, was able to gloss over these with a curious blend of inspiring rhetoric and smooth talk.    

It ought to be glaringly obvious that this debate was not a venue for serious policy discussion. Rather, it might be thought of as an overhyped “Meet the Candidates” forum — the sort of place where dull facts just can’t compete with a compelling narrative. 

A true testament to the state of political discourse in our country.       


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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