WASHINGTON, October 14, 2012 – If the Romney-Obama debate reminded me of a lost chapter from Atlas Shrugged, the Ryan-Biden debate felt more like watching a rerun of “Back to the Future”.
A good nerdy kid, Marty McFly, is on a noble mission to improve everyone’s future by fixing a few problems in the past. He gets bullied by a boorish jock, Biff Tannen, who only cares about dominating the nerd at any cost. In the end, the bully loses and the nerd speeds off to the new, exciting world.
The “nerd vs. bully” conflict has been part of the human narrative since David defeated Goliath. A plethora of Hollywood movies, from “Weird Science” to “Revenge of the Nerds” have turned a nice penny by exploiting people’s knee-jerk compassion for the underdog, coupled with their desire to see the bully creamed.
It takes a Joe Biden not to see the implications of casting himself as a bully in this cultural context.
Most viewers - some anxiously, others gleefully - anticipated a typical Biden’s gaffe to come out of his mouth “not the right way.” Biden gave them more than a sound bite.
The gaffe came in the form of his masterful re-enactment of classic nerd-bullying scenes, while playing the part of the archetypical jerk.
His act would seem normal only to those who take being a jerk for a norm. Everyone else was astonished by the Vice President’s grotesque lack of judgment and self-awareness.
Self-awareness is essential to empathy and social intelligence. Lack thereof is essential to being a bully. Biden sensed a nerd in Ryan and the inner bully jumped out.
He just couldn’t help himself: character is destiny.
Given the scale and complexity of the issues involved, the debate could have taken any unpredictable twist, tone, shape, or genre. Joe Biden’s nature inevitably turned it into a “nerd vs. bully” story, in which Paul Ryan merely played himself. And that was all he needed to do. His character perfectly completed the picture.
As soon as Ryan uttered his first words, Biden began to smirk and giggle, baring his teeth at the most inappropriate moments. It was as though the substance he had sipped out of the flask while waiting backstage was beginning to kick in.
He might as well have been drunk on his own words - whatever it was, he didn’t share it with Ryan. That contradicted Biden’s expressed belief in “leveling the playing field”: he got to speak longer than his Republican opponent.
The Vice President’s behavior quickly became loutish, causing my friend to nickname him “Interrupting Joe.” “Facts matter!” Biden shouted - but all we heard was, “shouting and interrupting matters!”
Talking over his opponent like a heckler in a comedy club may have worked at first; after a while it became just annoying.
In between the interruptions and giggles, Biden ridiculed Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin for bringing up the “death panels” in “every debate,” even though neither of them did: the term originated more than a year after Sarah Palin had the misfortune to debate Joe Biden.
But dropping Sarah Palin’s name was yet another tactic of a bully, implying that a woman bullied by him could no longer be credible and repeating her words was asking for more trouble.
As the name dropping continued, he made a Freudian slip of referring to Romney as “Ronald” - an unintended compliment he quickly corrected. As Ryan brought up Kennedy’s tax cuts to support his own tax plan, Biden scoffed condescendingly: “So now you’re Jack Kennedy?”
That remark later prompted Rush Limbaugh to broadcast Kennedy’s 1962 speech on tax cuts, which sounded more like a Romney-Ryan campaign ad. The Republicans would do well to use it in the coming weeks.
Towards the end, whatever at first was making Biden hyperactive and giggly, apparently had worn off, turning him into a drowsy sloth. When asked about his Catholic faith, Biden was already pretty much subdued, hiding his eyes and looking like a habitual liar when he said, “my religion defines who I am.”
During closing statements, the Vice President already seemed to be mentally getting into his pajamas, hugging a soft pillow, and finishing with a whisper: “it’s gonna be OK…”
Later that night, Ryan’s supporters decried their candidate’s lack of aggressiveness; critics called his act “robotic.” Both were correct - except for the fact that it played to his own advantage, casting Ryan as the archetypical nerd in a Biden-generated scenario of an attack by a loudmouth buffoon.
It appears that Ryan’s character sealed his destiny in the debate as well. Only he wasn’t asking for it. He didn’t set the tone, nor overplay his part. Biden did all of that, with the unwitting help from Martha Raddatz.
Once again, I had to agree with my friend: Biden would be a better debater if he didn’t have an opponent. But such is the curse of all sociopaths: having to deal with real live people always ruins their otherwise perfect plans and political careers, let alone their brilliant schemes of social engineering and redistribution of wealth.
At The People’s Cube, we do NOT equate all “liberals” with communists. The purpose of this website is to pick up “liberal” hitchhikers and give them a ride to the communist wonderland - the inevitable end result of their “well-meaning” policies.
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