Friday, October 12, 2012

Smokin’ Joe

Okay, let’s wrap it up.  Round two in "The Battle for the Country" is in the books.  To paraphrase a well-known commercial, you are now free to exhale.

And that’s because Joe Biden did his job last night.  With the whole election perhaps hanging in the balance, the Vice President delivered a feisty, often confrontational, debate performance against his rival, Paul Ryan. 

Ryan, for his part, held his own, bending, but never cracking.  Several times he almost let the true Ryan out, but bit his tongue just in time.  You can tell he’d been well prepped for the debate.

Neither man scored a knockout, but that didn’t stop both campaigns from claiming a resounding victory. Nothing like living in a bubble to twist what was by far the liveliest debate I’ve seen in quite some time.  I have to admit it, seeing Biden and Ryan on the same stage going at it made me wonder whether the wrong guys were at the head of these respective tickets.

On points, I’d give the decision to Biden, and for two reasons.  One, the stakes were considerably higher and the pressure far greater.  After his boss laid an egg in Denver last week, Biden had to stop the hemorrhaging.  In less than a week, Obama had gone from a four point lead in the polls to a two point deficit.  Six points in under a week isn’t a bump, it’s a free fall.  Another loss and it could’ve been lights out. 

Second, Biden had to rile up the Democratic base, which was becoming despondent after Obama’s woeful performance.  Showing a spine and, yes, balls, was the perfect tonic for what ailed them.  Also, I thought Biden did a much better job of connecting on a visceral level with the viewers.  Even David Frum grudgingly admitted as much.

And while the night would’ve been far more enjoyable had Biden laid out Ryan, that wasn’t necessary.  The point was to right the good ship Obama and keep it from taking on any more water.  Mission accomplished.  Though it will probably be at least a few days before we know the full extent of what transpired in this debate reflected in the polls, I predict the race will likely reset with both presidential candidates in a dead heat and Obama ahead, but barely, in enough swing states to ensure a narrow electoral win.  In other words, it will be his election to lose once more.

Which brings us to round three next Tuesday.  Obama has no more excuses.  He must put Denver behind him and bring his “A” game.  His VP just saved his bacon.  Now it’s his turn to repay the debt and save America from the likes of Gordon Gekko. 

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