Wishful Thinking

William Marsden, intrepid reporter for Postmedia News, thinks Biden was the bee’s knees at last week’s VP debate:

DANVILLE, Ky. – The vice-presidential debate is usually considered more of an exhibition game for second-stringers. But Thursday night, Joe Biden transformed it into a main event that revealed disturbing weaknesses in the Republicans’ economic and in foreign policy programs.

Biden was his usual combative, assertive personality, telling it as he sees it, spicing his dialogue with smiles and laughter and appeals to heaven, flashing his super-white teeth like a shark. He was the dominant player. His rival, Republican Paul Ryan, was the foil. Biden simply played off him all night long.

Biden was clearly enjoying himself as he constantly accused an increasingly defensive Ryan of disgorging “malarkey,” questioning his facts every step of the way, bluntly stating several times: “Not a single thing he (Ryan) said is accurate.”

Marsden seems to have seen the same debate as the rest of us, but he comes to all the wrong conclusions. For one thing, Biden didn’t “reveal weaknesses” in the Romney-Ryan ticket so much as he claimed to, which is something altogether different. If Marsden was a truly objective observer, he’d make that distinction. Instead, he simply takes Biden at his word and refuses the same to Ryan.

I’m not not sure why he does this, considering Biden’s own side doesn’t believe half the stuff he said, but Ace of Spades thinks he knows:

So I was wondering how on earth liberals could imagine that Biden won.

There are two answers here, I think. The first is that they knew they had to claim, as a group and with one voice, that Biden destroyed Ryan, in order to try to push that particular interpretation. As Ryan said, they were all “under duress” to make up ground from the Romney demolition of Obama.

That’s certainly true.

But I also think they’re employing a crude metric to call the debate for Biden. Biden definitely “won” in one sense — he contradicted everything Ryan said. Whether it was chuckling, sneering, interrupting, or just stating “That’s a bunch of malarkey” to everything, Biden did contradict everything Ryan said.

I think what they think is this: Romney won the first debate because he contradicted everything Obama said. Hence, the winner of any debate is the one who contradicts the most. Biden contradicted the most, ergo he wins.

And while I agree with Ace on this, he neglects to identify the elephant in the room, those charming white chompers of Crazy Uncle Joe.

Cue the great James Taranto:

“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength,” the longshoreman cum philosopher Eric Hoffer once observed. Hoffer died in 1983, so he probably wasn’t referring specifically to Joe Biden’s performance in last night’s debate. Still, the observation is fitting.


A smile is an instinctive gesture of submission. Often the submission is mutual, as when two friends exchange smiles or when Maestripieri’s strangers break into small talk on the elevator. But when a man uncontrollably smiles at a potential or actual adversary, it is a show of weakness.

That isn’t necessarily to say that Paul Ryan dominated Biden, although there is no question Ryan demonstrated self-control where Biden utterly lacked it. As some commentator or other (probably several of them) observed before the debate, Biden’s assigned task was to “right the ship” after the Barack Obama disaster. Since the ship has a titanic design flaw–a gaping O-shaped hole right in the hull–that was an impossible task. Biden had ample reason to find the situation intimidating.

And so he overcompensated for his weakness by acting the bully in an attempt to dominate Ryan. His behavior was not only consistent with Hoffer’s aphorism but in sharp contrast with that of Mitt Romney, who actually did dominate Obama in a coolly masterful way. If Biden’s rudeness was an imitation of strength, Romney’s poise was a display of the real thing.

It doesn’t surprise me that William Marsden got it wrong, as he’s as much of a True Believer as most in the Canadian MSM. However, it takes a significant kind of willful ignorance to illustrate Ryan’s supposed shortcomings because Biden disagreed with him yet leave out any mention of the administration’s Libya scandal. That is to  say, the biggest cover-up in at least the past 20 years is emerging out of Washington, and Marsden doesn’t think his readership requires that context.

How that man and his editors remain employed is beyond me, but I suppose that since no one reads newspapers anymore, I don’t think his malicious journalism will have much of an impact.

So, obviously, I can’t wait for his take on tomorrow night’s debate but, for now, I’m in the mood for some laughs …

UPDATE: Incidentally, this is how a journalist should treat Biden’s performance at the debate.

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