Thursday, October 11, 2012

Debate Night, Round 2

Debate season 2012 is still rolling on, and the deeper we get into the season, the less fun Republican candidates seem to be having.

In congressional debates in Illinois and Massachusetts this week, Democratic candidates Tammy Duckworth and Elizabeth Warren put their Republican opponents up against the ropes.

The Vice Presidential debate is also happening tonight, and frankly, we hope current Vice President Joe Biden cleans Rep. Paul Ryan's clueless clock - a result that would surprise few people on the left or the right.

Biden is well known to enjoy the back-and-forth of a good debate and, while he hasn't been involved in a formal debate since he handily bested Sarah Palin four years ago, there have been reports that Biden's debate prep has been going exceedingly well.

Contrast that with the pre-debate actions of the man conservatives like to think of as their intellectual policy wonk, Paul Ryan. Earlier this week, when a local Michigan television reporter attempted to get some simple details from Paul Ryan on his positions on guns and taxes, Ryan abruptly ended the interview, and attempted to damage the reporter's credibility.

Then yesterday, as Ryan arrived at a campaign photo-op in Florida, he chided reporters for giving him softball questions. The reporters then asked him a hard question - the difference between his position and Mitt Romney's on abortion. Ryan appeared struck dumb for a moment, then evaded the question, telling reporters they would find out his position later, in the debates.

That kind of evasion will likely be the basis for Ryan's approach on foreign policy, with which he has almost no experience. Biden, on the other hand, is a long-time, seasoned foreign policy advisor, including many years on the Foreign Relations Committee during his time in the Senate.

While both Biden and Ryan are Catholics, they appeal to two entirely different parts of the church. Biden, a devoted Catholic, sides with the old-school, social-justice wing of the church, while Ryan - also a serious Catholic - sides with the socially conservative, culture-warrior wing of the church. The divide between the two men with regard to social issues will almost certainly feature prominently in tonight's debate.

The two men will also likely tussle about the $716 billion removed from Medicare subsidies to private companies. Biden supports Obamacare, which puts that money back into the health care system. Ryan, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be able to explain exactly what he and Mr. Romney would do with that money.

The biggest battle will likely be fought over the Ryan Budget, the core of the Romney/Ryan fiscal plan. As advisors and policy wonks from all political backgrounds seem to agree, the "math" behind Ryan's budget, which he recently told Fox's Chris Wallace was too complicated to explain, simply doesn't add up.

We're fairly certain Vice President Biden will land more than one solid punch on Ryan on many of these issues. The hardest choice for Biden will likely be which one will be the knockout punch.

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