(Stephen Allott) – I will readily concede that since he was forced to drop his 1988 presidential bid amid accusations of plagiarizing the speeches of then British Labor Party Leader, Neil Kinnock, Joe Biden has never been a politician I have particularly cared for.
I will also stipulate that during his almost four years as vice president, Joe Biden has neither endeared himself to, nor earned the respect of, this voter.
Having watched the vice presidential candidates debate on Thursday evening, my opinion of the vice president has not altered – except, maybe, for the worse.
As with many observers, political commentators and other viewers who watched the debate, I found the vice president’s constant smug and smirking grins, supercilious smiles and his oft times pedantic, derisive, and condescending commentaries to be offensive, insulting, obnoxious, rude and boorish.
The public who tuned in to learn more about the issues deserved better.
The performance of the president at the previous week’s debate was awful. The performance of the vice president was worse. It was both shameful and shameless.
Toward the end of the debate, moderator Martha Raddatz asked each candidate what he would bring to the office of the vice president. Joe Biden announced that honesty is his strongest attribute.
It is a dubious claim.
His comments during the 90-inute debate were replete with a multitude of disingenuous statements. Most notable was his claim early in the debate that Ambassador Christopher Stevens had not requested extra security before the September 11, 2012 tragedy. This, in and of itself, was an extraordinary admission for the vice president. His ignorance alone should automatically disqualify him for another term in office.
The news of the Ambassador’s requests for additional security has dominated the print media and has had widespread coverage on television and in the social media for the last few weeks. If the vice president was being truthful, then either the vice president is cursed with an extremely short memory span, or he is genuinely out of the loop. Either explanation does not bode well for a man who is a heartbeat away from the presidency itself.
Substance and policy issues are unquestionably the most important function of any debate – indeed the election. It is also arguable as to which candidate won the debate on the issues. A persuasive case could be made for either participant.
However, character also matters, and is of considerable import – as it should be.
Clearly Congressman Paul Ryan was the undisputable and outright winner in this regard. His manner was calm and unruffled, and, to the extent he was allowed, presented his case in a dignified, methodical, controlled and rational manner. One may not agree with his positions, but no one could doubt his sincerity – especially during his closing statement.
He appears to be a genuinely classy, down to earth individual who cares deeply about the serious issues facing our nation. Above all, he was respectful to the moderator, to his opponent, to the millions of voters who tuned in to their TV stations to watch, and, most importantly, to the office to which he aspires.
In stark contrast, the vice president was disrespectful and his demeanor unsavory. With his constant interruptions and the above described comportment, it was a display of appallingly bad manners. It was conduct unbecoming of a vice president.
If this debate did not tip the scales of those few remaining undecided voters, I am not sure what will.