Friday, October 12, 2012

What Biden Should Have Said About the Nasty Campaign


Biden bean Ryan like a rented mule for 80 minutes, and that was gratifying to watch. Ryan was fighting out of his weight class, and it showed. Biden was damn close to getting a TKO when pushing Ryan for specifics with respect to how they're proposing to pay for their $5 trillion tax cut.

But the point that really sticks out to me is Biden's missed opportunity for a coup de gras. Radditz asked a question about the nastiness of the campaign (couched in a story about a soldier in Afghanistan...jeez, we have to be careful not to let the deification of the military get out of hand here folks...). I've discussed this tricky issue many times, and perhaps Biden didn't want to take a risk in a debate he had already won handily... But I think he should have said something like:
Look. We should be very clear about something. This is not a case where both parties are equally responsible. It's just a fact, acknowledged by every even vaguely objective observer of American politics that the Republican party has begun using using unusually nasty tactics. The Democrats are far from blameless, but it is the Republican party that is moving American politics farther and farther in a bad direction. They began engaging in the politics of personal destruction when Bill Clinton was President. They falsely accused Bill Clinton of everything imaginable, including murder. They continued to blame Clinton for every failure of the Bush administration for eight years. Then they launched a vicious campaign of personal destruction against President Obama. The very night of his inauguration, Republicans including Newt Gingrich met to plan how to destroy him politically. The Republicans in the House have refused to compromise on almost everything, and Republicans in the Senate threaten to filibuster almost everything that cannot get 60 votes. They relentlessly prosecute a campaign of obstruction...and then blame the President for not making Washington more bipartisan. The whole time they spin out a non-stop stream of false, despicable charges against the President. That he was born in Kenya and is not an American citizen. That he is a socialist. That he is not a "real American," that he does not love his country, and so on and so on. He's the President who got Osama bin Laden--something the last Republican President couldn't do, and something that the current Republican candidate didn't even think was important--yet they spin out laughable fantasies about him being soft on terrorism. This is a very dangerous time for the Republican part and for America. The GOP has allowed itself to wallow in and relish its anger. It has constructed for itself a fictional Obama that bears no resemblance to the actual President. It has then gone out and convinced average Republicans that the fictional Obama is real, and that he is dangerous, and must be hated and stopped. The incredible vitriol in American politics is one of the biggest problems our country faces. It undermines our ability to make rational policy and electoral decisions. We all need to work to change it. But the hard fact of the matter is that Republicans are far more responsible for the problem than are Democrats. There is only so much we can do to change this. Change, on this one critical issue, can only come, in the main, from Republicans, who must return to their traditional roots, learn to face the facts even when they don't like them, learn to control their anger, and learn to admit that it is possible to disagree with them about policy without being evil or hating America.
Well, there's a fantasy speech, I guess.

Instead, Ryan immediately launched into more vitriolic attacks, using that "if you don't have anything to run on you something something run away from" line yet again.

Anyway. I think that was a great opportunity to make a point that could be pivotal in this race. Sometimes you just have to speak a truth and it's like turning a light on for people.


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