I watched the Vice Presidential Debate on PBS. As I’ve mentioned before, I can’t watch anything that involves post-event commentary on a network channel. (I love Gwen Ifill!)
I liked that they sat instead of standing to give the illusion of a friendly conversation, though of course it was anything but that. Martha Raddatz did a great job of moderating.
Joe Biden was excellent. This cannot be denied. He clearly won the debate. His array of emotions, his passion, him knowing when to be calm and when to be excitable was great. The dynamic range he has always has been wider than Obama’s, and in a debate, it somewhat is what the audience of citizens expects since it is a performance.
At the same time, unlike a lot of “colourblind” and annoying liberals, I recognize that Joe Biden has White privilege and could be as intense and dramatic as he was for that reason. If a recent release of a 2007 video of Obama code-switching and speaking to a Black church is considered “controversial” and “race-baiting,” White America most certainly couldn’t handle Obama debating in the way that Biden did. Let’s be clear, Obama doesn’t have that privilege. Biden does. Biden might be called rude, but he won’t be branded “an angry White man.” Obama can’t risk the election by debating in the exact manner that Biden did, and that is not his personality anyway.
Paul Ryan bringing up the car accident anecdote was insensitive considering Joe Biden lost his first wife and a child in a car accident right as he was first elected to the Senate about 30 years ago. It simply opened the door for Biden to show compassion and calm a bit for a moment when he mentioned his own experience. I think Ryan did this as psychological warfare, to throw Biden off track. It didn’t work though. I liked that Biden was able to differentiate between Romney being able to have individualized commitment/compassion to a person (in reference to the people in Ryan’s anecdote) versus Romney’s disregard for the automotive industry or whole groups of people. “Stop talking about how you care about people, and show me something.” I like when Biden said this.
Ryan’s comment about “unelected judges” in reference to Roe v. Wade is a clear sign. Clear. Even if I despised Obama (which I do not, though I do not feel compelled to defend his every action either), there is no way in high hell I would consider a vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket. This part of the debate was actually frightening. Roe v. Wade being overturned (which is bad enough) could easily be a catalyst for a lot of 1950-1980 decisions being overturned. I am not okay with this.
Ryan was prepared for the foreign policy questions but so was Biden. Ryan seemed more prepared for tax questions than Biden was, but Biden was more prepared on healthcare.
I am not okay with the consistent “America appears weak” rhetoric from Romney and Ryan. As if the capitalism, xenophobia and imperialism-mitigated violence around the world is not enough, violence that I am supposed to applaud as patriotism, the actual rhetoric being used that even more aggression is needed is tiring. American values are ones based on White supremacy, White privilege, violence, victim blaming, willful misinterpretation of history, and imperialism. It’s not solely the rosy picture of “exceptionalism” and “equality” that any candidate on any side tries to paint. So ultimately when Paul Ryan suggests “no apologies” and “don’t be weak” in regards to foreign policy, I cringe. Regardless of party, the actions are aggressive. It’s simply that Democrats use less violent and less arrogant foreign policy rhetoric than Republicans. But the xenophobia, Zionism, and imperialism-influenced actions are often the same. It doesn’t make the parties fundamentally the same, especially domestically (as clearly revealed in this debate), but ultimately these interests on a foreign level supersede party lines.
Overall, Ryan seemed to teeter between pretentious and scared. The way he kept drinking water made him seem anxious, and it was uncomfortable to watch. Biden seemed confident, prepared and teetered between great emotional expression and moments of true compassion and intellect. Though people quickly write Biden off a stupid because he shoots from the hip at times (yet ironically, Obama speaks prepared and cautious/informed and is criticized for this), stupid is not the right word for him. He has flaws, but he is not an idiot. Neither is Ryan. However, Ryan told more than 20 myths in less than 45 minutes during the debate. What’s intelligence without the truth?
Of everything that occurred last night, the Roe v. Wade conversation rang the loudest for me. Biden made it clearer than ever what I have to do in November.
Related Post: The First Presidential Debate