Thursday, October 11, 2012

Live Blogging the Live Bloggers
2012 Vice President Debate
Mystical 10-11-12 Edition

Welcome to the 2012 Vice President Edition in the continuing saga of "Live Blogging the Live Bloggers blogging the Debates!"

The Dividist fondly recalls when he conceived this series to cover the first 2008 Republican debate, lo those many years ago, and first asked the question:
"There are plenty of bloggers covering the debate live tonight, but is anyone covering the live bloggers? The Dividist rushes in where other, more sensible bloggers, fear to tread."
After last week's debate,  I don't think anyone will ever again ask the question whether Presidential debates matter.  Now Vice Presidential debates - that's another question. The jury is still out on that one.  After last weeks debacle, interest is high for this - the one and only VP debate prior to the election, now less that a month away.

It'll be interesting to see if it garners the 67 million audience of the Presidential debate. There is competition tonight - an NFL Football game between the Steelers and Titans, and two MLB playoff games, The Yankees vs. Orioles and  Athletics vs. Tigers. So it is safe to assume that Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New York, Maryland, Michigan, and Northern California will not be watching the debate. There are a few swing states in there. No matter. The Dividist is on the case.

As always, we select a variety of bloggers from across the political spectrum,and attempt to live blog their live blog efforts. I don't know who we will include, in the past we've used used  Daily Kos from the left, VodkaPundit or HotAir from the right, look to either Reason or Cato for a libertarian point of view and the Moderate Voice, and/or Donklephant as a centrist blog.  Andrew Sullivan is  a reliable live-blogger, as is Chris Cillizza's Fix and CNBC will be tweeting.

If past is prologue we will likely guess wrong about which blogs to monitor and will be scrambling once things get started. Refresh your browsers for latest content once the debate is underway. Because of the derivative nature of this enterprise, I do run quite a bit behind the actual debate. Just setting expectations to lower the bar. As usual - expectations are a big part of the game. Expectations for Biden are low. Expectations for Ryan are high.  That gives Biden an edge. A big edge.


Chris Cillizza's Fix: "Unlike last week’s debate, where large majorities of people thought beforehand that President Obama would wipe the floor with Mitt Romney (that SO didn’t happen), the expectations are much less tilted toward one candidate for this debate."

CNBC: "Thursday night's debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan has mushroomed in importance since Mitt Romney's strong showing in the first presidential faceoff. "

The Dish - Sullivan:"Gallup claims that veep debates don't usually influence voters. Joseph Cera comes to a different conclusion. Meanwhile, Silver believes that Biden could help shrink the enthusiasm gap "

Daily Kos: "One of tonight's agreed upon debate rules is, allegedly, that the vice president isn't supposed to be referring to his opponent as "Congressman Ryan." Instead, he is to refer to the Republican's boy genius only as "Mister Ryan.

Vodka Pundit - Stephen Green:"Will there be drunkblogging of tonight’s veep debate? Does Joe Biden sometimes accidentally put on his suit jacket upside down?"

Stinque: "In this corner, a Ripped Filthy Liar whom we suspect has a glass jaw. And in this corner, a Hairplug-Studded Veteran whose best moments remind you of a vérité Curb Your Enthusiasm. We have no idea what to expect during tonight’s Veep Debate Open Thread/Mixed Mental Arts Competition. We just know it ain’t gonna be normal."

Reason Hit and Run: "Tonight’s big question comes down to this: Who gets to follow in the footsteps of such political bright lights as Dan Quayle, Al Gore, and, yes, Joe Biden to become the next hapless understudy to the leader of the free world? "

DIVIDIST - Expectations for Biden are low, but he consistently kicked ass in the 2008 Dem primary debates – always performing better than both either Obama or Clinton, and certainly better than Palin. Expectations for Ryan are high, but he has never been tested at this level with this kind of intense national media scrutiny. I don’t expect him to pull a Palin, but he is perfectly capable of blowing it with a major gaffe. Obviously, Biden can’t win it for Obama, but I expect he’ll stop the bleeding, change the narrative and tee it up for Obama in the rematch next week.

We'll be updating when the debate starts in about 5 minutes. Beer me.

And we are off....
First Question - Benghazi Attack and Iran Nukes 

Chris Cillizza's Fix:  Aaron Blake: 6:05 PM PDT "Biden comes out with a laundry list of contrasts with Romney on foreign policy after question about Libya.  6:06 PM PDT Ryan: "It took the president two weeks to acknowledge this was a terrorist attack."

Moderate Voice"Biden smiling/smirking a bit, I think he’s trying to give the “aww isn’t he cute but doesn’t know what he’s talking about” theme. Ryan goes on to talk about need to stand up for democracy around the world. Biden calls Ryan a liar (clearly a response to the perception Obama didn’t do so with Romney"

The Dish - Sullivan"Libya up first. Tough question, unlike any of Lehrer's. And Biden handles it perfectly and then gives us a clear, compelling case for Obama's superior record in foreign policy. Then a perfect and important reminder that Romney and Ryan are prepping for another war in the Middle East over non-existent weapons of mass destruction."

Daily Kos"6:08 PM PT: Boy Ryan is getting indignant about the administration's reaction to the Benghazi attack. And parries Biden's broader critique by saying Romney and Ryan supported the Obama plan on Iraq in Afghanistan. Craziness."

Vodka Pundit:"6:06PM Ryan need to hit Raddatz, Gingrich style. Instead he’s hitting Biden. He’s OK, but he missed the narrative. “OK” won’t cut it with Raddatz and her fat thumb on the scale."

Stinque"Nojo 9:05 pm And Plugz opens by ignoring the question. That’s how you do it!"

Reason Hit and Run"Peter Suderman@petersuderman RT @dandrezner: Yeah, that's false. RT @JonahNRO: "Most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions"? Uh fact check please"

DIVIDIST - Looks like it'll be Gloves Off Hard Ass Joe tonight. I don't think either Ryan or Raddatz will hold up under the shit eating grin. 

Unemployment & Economy

Chris Cillizza's Fix6:25 PM PDT This is the right tone for Biden. Populist anger. OOOOH. Ryan goes at Biden and Scranton. Joey B isn't going to like that. Aaron Blake: Biden started to make a '47 percent' comment and then stopped"

Moderate Voice: "Tells a story about Romney helping out family whose kids were hurt in car accident (this could give Biden an opening given his own sad background) and goes on to talk about how Romney gives more to charity that Ryan and Biden combined. Cites the 47% quote and says to Biden “I think you know that words don’t always come out as you meant them”, even Biden laughs at that one"

The Dish - Sullivan: "Biden just turned a good debating point into a brilliant reminder of his own experience of tragedy - not a second-hand story planted for obvious political reasons - and finally, finally hits back at the gall of Ryan and Romney and the Republicans in blaming the debt on Obama. And now Biden is filleting Ryan on the stimulus. Biden is now on a roll! Game on!"

Daily Kos: "6:26 PM PT: Oh man. Ryan just stepped in it big time. Told a flat out lie about unemployment going up throughout country, and Biden called him out on it. Awesome."

Vodka Pundit: "6:32PM “The Vice President was in charge of overseeing” the stimulus. 6:32PM “I love my friend here.” Again, that’s Biden’s strong suit. He’s done this for 40 years. and he’s damn good at it. 6:34PM “Was it a good idea to spend taxpayer money on electric cars in Finland?” YES! Um… yes?"

Stinque: flippin eck "9:40 pm Omg I love Biden and his little asides and his chuckling. Targa 9:39 pm Ryan is a smug bastard. I’m about ready to punch Ryan’s lights out… if not for this new tv, there would be a beer bottle smashed onto it…. and I’m a peaceful guy."

Reason Hit and Run: "Jacob Sullum@jacobsullum Ryan and Biden agree: The real money is in the middle class (especially the way they define it). Matt Welch@mleewelch So, 20% of the Romney/Ryan 5-point list sounds like Ryan, and he sped the hell right through that part (deficit & debt). Then anecdote"

DIVIDIST - My wife walked in to let me know that Biden needs to get that shit-eating grin off his face. I asked her to bring me a beer. She didn't. Blogger is killing me with the formatting. I am running behind and will be skipping questions.


Taxes and Entitlements

Chris Cillizza's Fix: The Fix 6:44 PM PDT "This is what politicians do when they don't have a record to run on." -- Ryan on Biden 6:47 PM PDT  Biden's answer on taxes: "numbers, numbers, more numbers"

Moderate Voice: "Biden says middle class pays less, rich pay more because they want to raise taxes for the rich and keep the tax cuts for the rich. Says the wealthy do not want tax cuts, only Romney / Ryan / Republicans. Says they want to permanently extend the cuts on the middle class. Says GOP won’t allow vote on tax cut for middle class. Again Biden quite passionate here, as he often is when dealing with middle class/rich issues. Ryan comes back and says that it is wrong to see these as tax cuts for the rich since many people who would be helped by the over 250k tax cut are small businesses, points out many other countries have lower business tax rates than the US. Cutting those taxes would help make jobs."

The Dish - Sullivan: "9.49 pm. Ryan has just failed to answer how he will pay for his tax cuts. Quite obviously. He has no answer. Biden kills the argument stone dead. He has exposed the mathematical impossibility. Ryan is losing on this critical question of whether the Romney-Ryan math adds up. He has no answer either on the Romney proposal to increase defense spending. He just cites the sequester as if it were Obama policy. He wasn't wiped out; but he has been solidly put on the defensive."

Daily Kos: "6:47 PM PT: Now we're on taxes. Biden making the case for middle-class tax relief—and against giving tax cuts to wealthy. 6:48 PM PT: Ryan giving a stirring defense of not taxing rich people because they don't have enough money."

Vodka Pundit:"6:45PM Biden on taxes: The rich will pay “slightly” more. He keeps using that word. I do not think it means what he thinks it means. 6:46PM “Let’s have a vote.” There’s one coming on November 6, Mr. Biden. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. 6:48PM “There aren’t enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending.” Line of the night."

Stinque: nojo 9:44 pm “Younger people like myself” doesn’t inspire confidence for a somebody a heartbeat away from the presidency."

Reason Hit and Run: "@danieljmitchell: Is Biden not aware that 30 nations have personal retirement accts, including Australia and Sweden? Peter Suderman@petersuderman Unless something changes, Democrats will be happy enough with this debate, and call a win. So will Republicans."

DIVIDIST - Gotta give Biden the solid edge, but it does not feel like a game changer yet. 


Afghanistan, Defense, Iraq

Chris Cillizza's Fix: The Fix "7:08 PM PDT from Twitter "Afghans to do the job. Afghans to do the job." -- Biden on something" The Fix 7:07 PM PDT from Twitter "The calendar works the same every year." -- Ryan. Tell the Mayans that"

Moderate Voice: "Ryan is asked about what conditions would warrant staying, Ryan says we will leave in 2014. Biden keeps saying Romney/Ryan would not leave, Ryan says they would. Moderator keeps pushing on “why not leave now” but neither candidate bites.  But pretty much agreement here on the basic issue."

The Dish - Sullivan: "9.58 pm. Did Ryan just say that the new Romney position is to be in line with the Obama 2014 deadline for withdrawal? That's an insta-flop, no? Meanwhile, Biden manages, unlike Obama, to home in on the goals achieved in the war on al Qaeda. But Biden's affect is the most important thing tonight. He seems like the elder statesman but also a pitbull."

Daily Kos: "7:08 PM PT: Oh my God I almost feel bad for Ryan after that exchange on Afghanistan. Biden owned him completely: pointed out that Ryan is basically advocating sending more Americans into the most deadly region in Afghanistan. Biden forced him into taking an awful position—pretty damn close to a knockout blow as far as these things go."

Vodka Pundit: "7:00PM Biden is making an excellent case for pulling out of Afghanistan, and a crappy case for the surge never should have authorized.  7:01PM Ryan telling the story of one of his best friends fighting in Afghanistan. It’s a good story. It’s a good argument. But nobody can explain why we’re still there."

Stinque: nojo "10:07 pm “No one got pulled out who didn't get filled in.” Words to live by."

Reason Hit and Run: "Scott Shackford@SShackford We will lose our credibility with whom? Why the hell is anybody looking at us for anything having to do with Syria? Ed Krayewski@edkrayewski @malouinnocent And Obama is giving Syria rebels material support and says maybe more after the election. Differences like night and day!"

DIVIDIST - I had to take a break to zap some pizza. And drink a six pack of Red Seal Ale.  The debate was over an hour ago and yet - I am still doing this.... Something is wrong with this picture.  We are skipping ahead to the closing statements. Who is winning? Well... Steelers are beating Titans 20 -16 in the 4th. Yankees Orioles tied 1-1 in the 11th. Detroit is beating Oakland 2-0 in the 5th.


Abortions, Catholics, Last Call

Chris Cillizza's Fix: "7:29 PM PDT Complaining about moderator: bad form for candidate. Aaron Blake 7:29 PM PDT Biden seems to think he's been shorted on time, but CNN shows he has actually spoken more The Fix 7:32 PM PDT Holy guacamole. That was some debate. Who won?"

Moderate Voice: "Ryan says he doesn't see how you can separate public life from private life and faith because faith shapes who you are and how his religion teaches him to do good for the poor. But he goes on to say that his view on abortion is not just because of his faith but because of science and points to ultrasounds at 7 weeks showing heartbeat and movement and how this shows to him that there is a life to protect there. He then says he respects those who disagree but that he feels their view would be to restrict abortion except for life of mother, rape or incest. He then is critical of now the Obama administration has dealt with abortion and other social issues, cites things like insurance with churches for example. Biden says he supports Catholic position on abortion in his personal life but will not impose on others. He then says the administration has not forced churches to pay for conception. They then go back and forth on Supreme Court appointments and how it could impact Roe vs Wade."

The Dish - Sullivan: "10.17 pm. Both were poignant and impressive on their faith in their lives. Most Catholics in America will side with Biden, I suspect. And Ryan could not guarantee that abortion rights would not be infringed in the Romney administration. I notice on this hot-button that the Christianist position did not look good in the dialing insta-polls."

Daily Kos: "7:19 PM PT: Biden says he accepts the Catholic Church's doctrine that life begins at conception, but that he refuses to impose that on other people. Beautiful answer. 7:20 PM PT: Wingers are going to get so angry that a woman dared asked a follow up question about abortion. 7:21 PM PT: Paul Ryan has this "Damn, I wish I were pro-choice" expression on his face."

Vodka Pundit: "I’m moderately pro-choice. And let me tell you, I have never heard anyone put the pro-life case better than Paul Ryan is doing right now. 7:17PM That giant sucking sound you hear is millions of Reagan (Catholic) Democrats sighing with relief. 7:19PM Biden is flat-out lying about the contraception mandate. Big fat hair lie. 7:19PM Er, hairy."

Stinque: Serolf Divad: "I’m wondering why the abortion question has to be related to the candidates’ religion and not to the effect its criminalization would have on women’s lives. It’s like Women are incidental to the abortion issue. But then, that’s how it’s always been hasn't it? Men asked to legislate an issue that primarily affects women based on their own personal preferences. What bullshit."

Reason Hit and Run: "nickgillespie@nickgillespie What does it mean to say life begins at conception? Fertilization of egg? Implantation? Number of cells? "Kennedy@KennedyNation Biden is a sitting Shakespearean tragedy! 10 more minutes and he'd be sobbing, his emotions have run the gamut. nickgillespie@nickgillespie Biden, like Obama, has rambling unfocused, unconvincing wrapup. Can't point to success so ends with gonna be OK...

DIVIDIST - 13th inning!  - I'm going to watch the end of the Yankee game. We'll fix the formatting and survey concluding thoughts with an update in the morning. 

UPDATE: 10-12-12

Who Won?

Chris Cillizza's Fix: "Winners -  Joe Biden’s last 15 minutes:  Biden was measured, passionate and heartfelt when talking about abortion and why he thought he and President Obama deserved a second term. He made his points forcefully but without any or the sarcasm or the nasty edges that characterized his performance for the bulk of the debate...  Losers -  Joe Biden’s first 75 minutes: As we noted above, Biden’s aggressive performance is a sure winner for him (and the president) within the Democratic base. But, it felt to us like he went a little bit overboard and, at times, bordered on bullying Ryan.  Biden’s derisive smiles and laughs while Ryan tried to answer questions weren’t great optics for the vice president and his repeated interruptions won’t make those who think politics should be more civil happy. Biden’s agenda was clear during the debate: he was set on erasing the passive performance of Obama last week. That he did, but in so doing it felt like he went a bit overboard."

Moderate Voice: "Trying to look at this from as unbiased a view as possible I really think that on points this was pretty much a draw. Both men articulated their views, both men seemed reasonable, neither one made any big blunders but neither one got in a big triumph. Your view is likely to be shaped by who you agree with, and that’s how most debates go. I doubt this will have much impact on the campaign, VP debates seldom do unless there is a big blunder and with MLB and NFL on tonight I don’t know a lot of viewers out there. I’d guess the media reaction will be to give it an edge to the Obama campaign since this was better than the Obama/Romney debate. MSNBC of course calling it a win for Biden Fox calling it a win for Ryan. CNN seems to be going with the idea of a draw."

The Dish - Sullivan: "10.33 pm. I have to say that Biden did to Ryan what Cheney did to Edwards in style and demeanor and authoritah. Ryan was hampered by an insurmountable problem on the impossible mathematics of the Romney budget. I think his inability to answer that question - how do you pay for it? - has to be the driving question now. The only way to afford it is to cut middle class deductions and middle class entitlements much more than Obama-Biden would. I'd love radical tax reform - but I'm not crazy enough to believe you can actually tackle the debt by cutting taxes and increasing defense spending and leaving Medicare basically alone (no ACA-style cost-controls) and only removing deductions for the very rich. It doesn't add up. They know it. And when challenged - even by Fox News - he cannot provide the details. So this was a solid win for Biden, I'd say; as well as a competent performance by Ryan."

Daily Kos:  " 7:59 PM PT (kos): CBS snap poll of undecided voters: Biden 50, Ryan 31, Tie 19. So yeah, idiot pundits, that's not what a tie looks like. No surprise. We saw the same thing four years ago when the pundits declared Sarah Palin the victor, only to get smacked down by the snap polls. Now we wait for CNN snap poll."

Vodka Pundit: "7:30PM Biden is seething. Ryan is wonking, if I may use a neologism. It’s not a knockout, but it is a win. 7:35PM Closing comments were about what you’d expect, so I have to stand by my gut call above. Biden needed to reverse things for Obama, and he wasn’t up to the task. Ryan needed to not screw up Romney’s momentum, and he did just that. Also, jeeze, who knew Biden could be almost as petulant as his boss?"

Stinque:  nojo11:26 pm  "What’s interesting is how much modern debates are theater. Mitt was actually as dull as Obama last week — but he feigned confidence, which gave him the win. Tonight, it was Biden’s attitude that won — he got in Ryan’s face early, and stayed there."

Reason Hit and Run: "Scott Shackford@SShackford Debate loser: Small Government Garrett Quinn@GarrettQuinn Biden had a better closing than Ryan but I think Ryan won that debate overall. nickgillespie@nickgillespie Psst...the guy I already agreed with totally kicked ass like Bruce Fucking Lee tonight!"

DIVIDIST - I'll stick with my concluding impressions from last night. Biden won but he didn't cover the spread. He overcompensated for the the perception of a disinterested Obama with an overbearing Biden. And it wasn't pretty. Ryan didn't score a lot of points, but all he really had to do was walk out without people wondering if the country would be in  jeopardy should he ever have to take the reigns. He passed.  I don't think the debate moved the needle in either direction.

So let's call it one each. The next game - Tuesday night. I'm guessing that Dems would like to bench Barack like the Yankees benched A-Rod and put Joe into the Designated Hitter role for that next debate.

Perhaps the best way to wrap this up is to quote a favorite book title by P.J O'Rourke:

"Age and guile beat youth, innocence and a bad haircut."

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