Joe Biden regained the momentum for his boss and the Democrats with his energetic performance against Paul Ryan tonight. The one word that can now be used to describe Republicans is "malarkey." These R guys are full of hot air; worse, their talk is foolish. In other words, every time a Republican opens his or her mouth, all you can expect is malarkey.
Besides expanding the vocabulary of Americans, Biden scored on all fronts against the smooth-talking, empty-vessel Ryan. The bluster on Syria, Libya and Iran, the shameless spin on taxes and medicare, the disdain for the 47%, the vagueness about pulling out of Afghanistan - the more Ryan tried to make his "points", the more desperate he looked.
It has become common for Romney and Ryan to try to "humanize" their views with touching personal stories. Biden would not fall for it. To be compassionate at a personal level does not mean its author is compassionate when it comes to defining policies that affect millions of Americans. Biden took the wind out of Ryan's sails when the Congressman tried to elicit sympathy from viewers with his personal stories. "Stop talking about how you care about people," Biden said. "Show me something. Show me a policy. Show me a policy where you take responsibility."
As I have observed before, these debates are not about substance but style. He who radiates more confidence, more wit and more authority wins. Ryan started out strong but halfway through the debate was reduced to a schoolboy being reprimanded by the school principal for, well, malarkey. When he suggested that American troops should not be withdrawn from the most dangerous regions of Afghanistan, an incredulous Biden asked (I am paraphrasing here): "So you would want to put American troops in danger so directly?" A single query unmasked the bluster of the armchair-general from Wisconsin.
When Ryan tried to ridicule Obama's stimulus plan, Biden revealed that the Congressman had personally written two letters asking for stimulus money for his district, available for viewing on the government's website. Talk about the height of hypocrisy!
The million-dollar question is: Can president Obama run with this? Can he emulate Biden's performance tonight and rejuvenate Democrats and his supporters with solid performances in the remaining two debates after his demoralizing and inexplicable meltdown in the first?
He better, if he wants to be reelected.
My guess is that he can and he will.