Live-Blogging The Biden-Ryan Debate


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. The star? Raddatz – the woman the far right just tried to intimidate. She was tough on both, controlled the debate, and knew her shit cold. Sorry, Tucker. But you were pwned by a pro. One day, you may grow up to be a journalist half her caliber.

10.28 pm. Both have performed well, I think. Biden's final performance was pure emotion, deep passion and classic Irish-Catholic middle-class sentiment. Ryan did well in making his case, despite being unable to make the core case that the middle class won't get hurt in a huge tax cut for the wealthy and big defense increase.

10.24 pm. Biden is in a zone – a focused, positive, aggressive zone, and was poignant and calm in response to a question referencing a decorated soldier's question. Ryan is earnest and effective in hs closing peroration.

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.

10.16 pm. Ryan reiterates that secularism – the distinction between politics and religion, between state and church, cannot and should not exist.

10.12 pm. I don't think Ryan is going to win on Syrian intervention. I'll say this though: this is a real debate as a debate. Raddatz has asked them specific questions with authority and they have gone back and forth, rebutting each other. That's not Lehrer's open-ended "tell us about your differences" blather.

10.09 pm. "The last thing America needs is another ground war in the Middle East." I notice the approval rating went up big in that statement. Noeconservatism has no popular base. It depends on deception and fear-mongering.

10.03 pm. A word about Raddatz: she is making the case for Jim Lehrer's retirement. Notice also two things: both agree on withdrawal from Afghanistan. But both agree that Iran must never be allowed a nuke. They cannot wait to end the current war; but they cannot wait to launch the next one either, can they?

10.02 pm. Ryan says that "jobs are not growing at home," but abroad. Unemployment in America is now at 7.8 percent; Europe's is headed toward 12 percent. Lie.

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.

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.

9.45 pm. A classic left-vs-right fight over Medicare. For me, it was a draw. For seniors, I suspect Biden won. Now he's kicking ass on tax cuts for the rich. Biden is doing his job tonight. And doing it much better than I certainly expected. The case that millionaires should sacrifice nothing in the sacrifices we all need to cut the debt is simply immoral. It requires a Randian mindset to hang onto it.

9.39 pm. The Onion's Biden is absent. This is a calm, strong forensic refusal to accept any of the bullshit being delivered by the congressman. But he shouldn't laugh at Ryan's flim-flam. He should do what he just did: calmly, relentlessly expose it.

9.35 pm. Ryan has basically said that he favors redistribution of money from the young to the old, one of the generations struggling the most to the generation that has benefited the most from the post-war boom.

9.29 pm. 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!

9.27 pm. Ryan says that unemployment is growing everywhere in the United States: that's Lie Number 3. And I'd say he screwed up because Biden has rattled him a little. Now, Ryan if offering pabulum as an economic program and a weepy story about Romney's compassion.

9.25 pm. Fuck yeah, Joe! Finally, Biden nails it on the 47 percent.

9.24 pm. Raddatz actually uses the February 2009 assessment based on false information about the depth of the recession to use against Biden. It's absolutely unfair.

9.17 pm. Ryan is now again saying that the Obama administration has watered down sanctions. My question is: why has Biden not brought up Iraq, the last war the GOP backed to prevent WMDs in the Middle East? But Biden is now authoritative. "A bunch of stuff." "Malarkey". Two euphemisms for bald-faced lying. Biden is now kicking ass on Iran.

9.14 pm. Women like Ryan more than they do Romney. A second possible lie: the Obama administration watered down previous existing sanctions. When? How?

9.10 pm. Biden should not smile condescendingly when Ryan lies. But he's calm, clear and forceful. And seems much more authoritative than Ryan. But Ryan gets his points in. And the CNN approval line gives Ryan an advantage. That surprises me so far.

9.07 pm. Lie One: Obama didn't negotiate a SOFA with Iraq. Because it was already negotiated by Bush! But Obama simply enforced the withdrawal date.

9.04 pm. 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.

8.57 pm. First up: yes I was a bit of an hysteric last week, but it turns out, given the astonishing turn-around in the polls, I was right. Like last time, what you'll get is just my hermetically sealed individual, flawed live response to what I see in the debate. And now we've seen the worst debate performance in modern history from the Democratic side and the most shameless from the GOP's candidate, tonight might even be fun.

I propose a drinking game every time Paul Ryan tells a whopper. I will abstain until the end, and then drink them all at once.