The VP Debate Was No Contest

Biden won the VP debate on substance but may have lost on style.  But style points shouldn’t matter.  If Americans elect a Presidential ticket based on the facial expressions and gestures of the candidates, we’ve sunk to a new shallow low.  The candidates are not auditioning for American Idol, or America’s Got Talent.  They are not on Dancing with the Stars, although I hear Paul Ryan is quite the polka dancer.  The presidential race is not a beauty pageant, but if it were, I’d say VP Biden’s pearly whites would win high marks.  There was a moment, however, in the debate – the last question, before the closing remarks, that reminded me of the Miss America final question; the question was this, slightly paraphrased:  What would you give to the country that no one else could?  Ryan talked about growth, Biden, the middle class.  Both answers were kind of like stock talking points and one was left thinking, what a silly question at the end of an otherwise substantive debate.

Apart from the final question, though, the debate was much better moderated than the first presidential debate.  Ms. Raddatz was in complete control most of the time and pressed them for specifics.  I wish she would moderate the next debate, which will be a town hall format.

The debate result was not a slam dunk for the VP, though he won it fairly convincingly.  Pundits will criticize his feistiness, with the wild gesticulations and incredulous smiling.  But at least he didn’t resort to grunting with wonk talk like Mr. Ryan did throughout, the same Mr. Ryan who did not want to be introduced as Congressman because Congress’ approval rating is at 13.8% according to Real Clear Politics.  Some will say the debate was a toss up.  Partisans will say their side won.  Independents already know who they are voting for and have from the very start, so they have no credibility with me.  In the end, the debates won’t matter.  The presidential race is not a debate contest, or a reality show.  What will matter is turnout.  With voter suppression laws suppressed by court rulings, if the Dems turn out swinging in the swing states, it will be no contest.

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