– Bud Norman
– Bud Norman
– Bud Norman
Joe Biden didn’t say anything memorably laugh-out-loud stupid in Thursday night’s vice presidential debate, which will likely suffice for the Obama administration’s many media cheerleaders to declare him a runaway victor, but it is unlikely that he talked anybody into voting for his ticket. Paul Ryan didn’t deliver the expected mauling, which will likely be enough for those same media cheerleaders to declare him a flop, but he also probably didn’t convince anybody to vote for the Obama-Biden ticket.
We followed the debate on an over-the-airwaves broadcast, as God intended, but through the miracle of Twitter we learned that a focus group of allegedly undecided voters at CNN seemed to think that Ryan got the better of it. Indeed, the network’s newfangled approval meter was so consistently going up during Ryan’s time and down during Biden’s that several liberals complained it was somehow rigged in the Republican’s favor. There’s no telling if this was an outlier response, but it does seem far-fetched that the folks at CNN, of all people, have suddenly become members of the vast right-wing conspiracy.
The distaff portion of the focus group was most impressed with Ryan, the “Tweeters” report, which is especially good news for a ticket that has until recently struggled to win over women voters. At the risk of sounding slightly sexist, we’ll venture that such a response might be at least in part because Biden is an aging, pudgy, and hair-plugged fellow while Ryan is youthful, famously buff, and thickly coiffed, but Biden’s rather rude behavior throughout the proceedings might also have been a factor. Barack Obama has blamed his universally-panned performance in the first presidential debate on being “too polite,” and Biden was clearly eager not to make such a mistake, interrupting, pouting, inappropriately smiling and smirking to the point that even reliably liberal pundits were “tweeting” their annoyance.
Biden’s reputation for stupid statements also provided Ryan with the only laugh line of the evening. When Biden tried to score points with Mitt Romney’s famous secretly recorded remark about the “47 percent” of Americans who take more from the government than they contribute, Ryan effectively blunted the attack by noting that Biden should understand that “words don’t always come out of your mouth the way you intend.”
Stylistic considerations aside, we thought Ryan prevailed on most of the substantive points. The debate opened with a question about the attack on America’s embassy in Libya and the four resulting deaths, and Biden attempted to deflect attention from the administration’s outrageously incompetent and dishonest role in the fiasco by criticizing Romney for addressing a mealy-mouthed message sent by the embassy in Egypt after a riot there the same day. Biden noted that Romney’s comment was “criticized by media around the world,” but surely most Americans are more concerned with the deaths of four countrymen than the predictable response of the media.
As the debate moved on to broader foreign policy matters, Biden tried to portray the Republicans as blood-thirsty war-mongers while simultaneously boasting how very hawkish and cold-blooded his boss has been. Biden made a similar attempt to have it both ways on the national debt, a pressing problem that Ryan has at least made a serious attempt to address during his congressional career, blasting the Bush administration for its half-trillion deficits while shrugging off the trillion-plus deficits that have occurred during the Obama administration. He even criticized Bush’s expensive prescription drug plan for seniors, then later boasted how seniors don’t have to pay for their prescription drugs.
For reasons known only to the moderator, who once counted Obama as a guest at one of her weddings, both candidates were also asked their shared Catholic faith and how it affects their differing views on abortion. Ryan was forthrightly anti-abortion, stressing his ticket’s moderation in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother, thus coming across as the more centrist of the two candidates. Biden also flat-out lied about the administration’s dictate that the Catholic church must provide contraception to the employees of its hospitals and social service organizations, allowing Ryan to wonder out loud why the Church is currently suing the administration.
Ryan also got the better of the closing statements, we thought, reminding the audience of the administration’s many failures and offering a believable argument that he and Romney could do better.
– Bud Norman
We rarely inveigh against slavery anymore, not because of any fondness for it but rather because we have long assumed that in these enlightened times one’s abolitionist opinions can go without saying. Imagine our surprise, then, upon hearing that the Republican party’s presidential nominee is intent on restoring the peculiar institution.
Vice President Joe Biden made that extraordinary claim while speaking Tuesday at a campaign event in Danville, Virginia, where he told a cheering crowd that Mitt Romney and his party are “going to put y’all back in chains.” He appeared to be looking a mostly African-American section of the audience as he said it, and unless “y’all” is a Delawarism that we weren’t previously aware of it also sounded very much as if the remark was intended for their benefit.
In the interest of providing context, lest we be accused of misquoting the famously quotable Biden, the line was wedged into the middle of a tirade about Romney’s proposed financial regulation reforms and his running mate Paul Ryan’s budget proposal. After looking over the Ryan budget rather carefully and finding no provision for the restoration of slavery, we can only assume that it’s buried somewhere in one of Romney’s Wall Street position papers.
Any financial regulatory reform that entails the restoration of slavery will likely be found unconstitutional, probably on thirteenth amendment grounds, but then again one can’t really count on the Supreme Court for anything these days, and in any case it’s quite appalling that Romney would even want to do such a thing. Setting aside any moral qualms about the proposal, it seems a most unpromising political position. One wonders about the focus groups the Romney campaign used to the test the idea.
Perhaps it’s not so surprising, however. The Obama campaign has already helpfully informed us that Romney is a dog-torturing, gay-bashing, tax-cheating, Swiss bank account-holding cad who killed a guy’s wife, and is one of those rich guys to boot, so it isn’t much of a stretch to him as a latter day Simon Legree as well. There’s still plenty of campaign left, too, and it will be interesting to see what accusation the Obama crew will come up with to top this one.
Biden might very well be incorrect about Romney’s pro-slavery sentiments, of course. He was apparently under the mistaken impression that he was in North Carolina when he made the speech, after all, and he has gained something of reputation over the years for saying outrageously stupid things. He’s not backing down, and the campaign’s spokeswoman has declined to disavow the comment, but we’re still awaiting some proof of the allegation before rendering a final judgment.
– Bud Norman
Vice presidential selections are usually of little interest to us, as the office is typically of such little consequence that even Joe Biden has done only minor damage with it, so we’ve happily refrained from the constant speculation and debate of the past weeks about the possible choices that Mitt Romney might make. Now that Romney has chosen Rep. Paul Ryan, though, we must say that we’re just pleased as punch.
There is no one currently active in American politics that we hold in higher regard than Ryan. He has the clarity of vision to see the economic calamity the lies at the end of our fiscal path, the broad imagination and hard-earned understanding of budgetary details needed to devise a workable solution, and most importantly — and most rare — he has the courage to confront his countrymen with harsh realities and offer his plan despite the fury he knew it would provoke. By selecting Ryan, Romney has demonstrated that he also understands the overriding issue of this election and is also bold enough to confront it.
The choice is not without risk, of course. Human nature is such that most people are disinclined to hear the kind of hard truths that Ryan proclaims, and millions of Americans will no doubt prefer the reassuring fairy tales of never ending and ever expanding entitlements that the president has so successfully peddled for the past four years. The complexities of baseline budgeting and other arcane tricks of the politician’s trade will permit Ryan’s opponents to convincingly lie about the prudent and necessary spending he has proposed, and when compared to the opposition’s false promises of government largesse at somebody else’s expense the Ryan plan will seem a most bitter medicine.
Still, the risk is justified by the possible benefits. The inevitable attacks on Ryan will only serve to focus attention on the issue of the government’s looming insolvency and the Democratic ticket’s conspicuous lack of a plan to prevent it, and Ryan is uniquely qualified to win that debate. Although his speeches rarely reach the level of rhetorical loftiness that characterize the president’s orations, Ryan’s style is grounded in hard facts, clear logic and plain logic. His fans still recall how Ryan left Obama speechless and seething during the health care debate, and the upcoming vice presidential debate against Biden promises to be the most fun Republicans have had in many years.
– Bud Norman
Of all the financial fiascos that have resulted from the Obama administration’s “green” initiatives, the Fisker Karma might be the most hilarious.
The Fisker Karma, in case your other news sources have been too embarrassed to mention it, is an electric sports sedan developed with help from $193 million of federal money, part of a total $529 million loan package sanctioned by the Department of Energy. Anyone old enough to remember the post-war British car industry, the communist Trabant, or even the more recent Chevy Volt already knows the sorry history of state-run auto enterprises, but the Fisker Karma adds an especially strange chapter.
To begin the saga, the Fisker Karma sells for a bit more than $102,000, meaning that the same administration which egged on a protest movement against the wealthiest 1 percent and lectured Americans that “at some point you’ve made enough money” has decided to subsidize the creation of a toy for the super rich. Early buyers of the vehicle include movie star Leonardo DiCaprio, teen dream pop singer Justin Beiber, and jet-setting environmentalist Al Gore, hardly the sort of people who require the taxpayers’ assistance.
Gore is a senior partner, by the way, in the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, a major backer of the Fisker company and s big-time donor to the Democratic party. In another interesting coincidence, Fisker’s loan application was handled by the firm of Debevoise and Plimpton, whose employees donated nearly $200,000 to Obama’s campaign, a smart investment given the $1.8 million they charged Fisker for their services.
One might argue that the blue collared types who build the car should be able to draw on public funds, and Vice President Joe Biden made that very point when he was photographed with the workers at a Fisker Karma plant in his native Delaware, but shortly afterwards the company shut down the plant and moved the assembly of the vehicle to Finland. Not since President Obama visited the soon-to-be-bankrupt Solyndra solar panel company to proclaim that the company was the “model” for a new economy has a photo opportunity looked so retrospectively ridiculous.
The latest installment in the Fisker Karma tale is what truly raises it to the level of high comedy, however. Another early buyer of the vehicle was Consumer Reports, which forked over $107,000 for a brand new hybrid model and was unable to complete its tests when the thing completely broke down after less than 200 miles. The magazine tells its reader that “We buy about 80 cars a year and this is the first time in memory that we have had a car that is undriveable before it has finished our check-in process.”
– Bud Norman