Bluegrassterpiece Theater: the Ryan-Biden Debate

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 11 2012 9:00 PM

Bluegrassterpiece Theater: the Ryan-Biden Debate

DANVILLE, Ky. -- John Dickerson and I are at the debate site, in a converted gym so cold that journalists are wearing winter coats to survive. Slate's main debate coverage will start right here, on our splash page that features a livestream and tweets. Matt Yglesias suggests a debate question that won't be asked. John Dickerson crawls inside of the candidates' heads. And I'll chime in here occasionally with whatever analysis makes the most sense.

Libya: I'd been betting people all day that the debate would begin with a Libya question, directed at Biden. And there it was. He was ready to pivot to a foreign policy, to kitchen sink Ryan on the issue he'd been briefed on but didn't know cold. This was apparent in the Ryan answer, which came right out of the stump speech. The most effective part of that: "We have a marine detachment in Paris. Shouldn't we have a marine detachment in Benghazi?" It was effective even though, as my Foreign Policy colleague Josh Rogin points out, the Paris detachment is there to protect intel, not the ambassador. Biden seemed to take control with the Biden-est imaginable line. "With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarky."

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The Steamroller: Reading this transcript is going to be like scanning a David Mamet play. Biden never gave up the momentum he won in the first five minutes -- he seems physically unable to let Ryan finish an answer, interrupting him as if he's livetweeting to correct every factoid he dislikes.

Whether or not this Biden performance helps Obama, you could sell bootleg DVDs of it to Dems for $20.

Ron Wyden: Paul Ryan cited his work with the Oregon senator and compromise-o-crat as proof that he could be bipartisan. Wyden has responded with this statement:

The Vice president is right, Romney/Ryan moved the goal post on Medicare and I strongly oppose their plan because I believe it hurts seniors. The Romney/Ryan plan raises the age of eligibility and repeals the ACA leaving millions of seniors with no health coverage. The Romney/Ryan plan on Medicare pulls the safety net out from under the poorest and most vulnerable seniors, taking away the opportunity for nursing home care from seniors who need it and have no other options. The Wyden-Ryan white paper strengthened the safety net for these dual eligibles. The Romney/Ryan version shreds it.  The Republican ticket knows that neither I, nor any other Democrat, would support these policies.  The Romney/Ryan plan on Medicare is further proof that Mitt Romney is singularly unfit to end gridlock and bring bipartisan solutions to Washington.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.