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What was wrong went vice-presidential debates

Reader comment on item: Impressions of the Veep Debate

Submitted by Anatoly Tsaliovich (United States), Oct 12, 2012 at 19:29

I watched yesterday's VP debates with amazement and disbelief. And while I tend to agree with the majority of observers that there was no clear winner in the VP debate yesterday (although allegedly an immediate AP poll gave preference to Paul Ryan, 48:44), I am not quite sure now that this picturesque spectacle was worth the time. Anyhow, I am not about to go into the details of cons and pros expressed by each side: there are enough pundits out there to tackle this task. However, I do see an obvious loser in this debate: it is this great country of the USA and its citizens. And this is what prompted me to write the following commentary.

I do not expect to "discover America", when I say that the debates were a failure. In my opinion, the blame for the sorrowful outcome should be placed right at the feet (mouths?) of all three participants in the event.

No doubt, the main culprit to be blamed for this failure was our notorious VP Biden. With all due respect, his incessant interruptions, arrogant smirks, senseless loud bawls reaching the levels of horse-style neighing (pardon my French) – all of those were unworthy of the high office he occupies in our government, but rather befit an applicant competing for the clown position in a local circus. Behind his noisy clownery, any opportunity to hear his opponent and have a healthy discussion never materialized and was lost. If the goal of Biden's exercise was just to blank off what his opponent would want to say, then, of course, that goal was achieved (although I don't lose hope that American public is somewhat more sophisticated than to accept such nonsense). But as far as clarifying complex issues, crucial for the fates of our country and the world at large, I am not sure if Biden (and his admirers) should be proud of himself.

Now, while the VP's antics did create a difficult environment, it wouldn't have been untenable if only the moderator, Marta Raddatz, were at the top of her role. Many times during the debates, she could have called to order the overbearing vice president, but she didn't. In fact, it looked like she interrupted Paul Ryan more often that the domineering VP (although I didn't count, nor compared the number of interruptions of each participant). To the moderator's credit, she did come up with a number of relevant issues, but because of her losing control over the debate process, any prospects of an enlightening discussion were wasted.

The "last line of defense" against the aggressive ugliness of the VP's behaviors was Congressman Paul Ryan himself. While he did try to somehow pacify the let himself go VP, by and large he was too gentle and considerate. As a result, half of what he wanted to say was not said or muted. But he shouldn't have accepted this circus: the stakes at the pending elections are too high to "play polite games". At some point of time, he should have asked the moderator to shush the wanton VP, and refuse to continue the discussion until and unless the order would have been restored. In my experience, there is no other way to stop an ungirdled demagogue.

Of course, today all the problems with this debate are by and large "water under the bridge". But there are also lessons to be learned, so that such lamentable events would not repeat in the future.

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

I agree that Ryan should have done more to quell the barrage from Biden But it's tough when you bump into an unexpected situation on live television and have to improvise. Ryan took the safe path.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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