When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
-R. Kipling – The Young British Soldier
It goes without saying that I thought ol’ Smilin’ Joe Biden kicked that young whippersnapper Paul Ryan’s be-hind from here to Janesville and back Thursday night. A belief that was mirrored by our old buddy John Hinderaker:
Frankly, I expected much more from Ryan, and he let us down. A disengaged viewer would have seen Joe Biden as the much more forceful, much more knowledgeable candidate. Worse, Biden’s victory gives the Democratic media exactly what they were looking for: an opportunity to declare the beginning of the Obama comeback. This was a needless defeat; I could easily come up with more than 100 individuals who do not hold public office but would have done a better job than Ryan did tonight. It was a big disappointment. Let’s just hope that Biden overplayed his hand and TV viewers thought he was a weirdo. And let’s hope that no one votes based on the VP candidate. Advantage, Democrats.
And now, the Total Burn:
FURTHER UPDATE: One more thing–for what it is worth, Sarah Palin did a much better job against Joe Biden in 2008 than Paul Ryan did tonight. Bizarre, but true.
Where I thought Ryan was at his weakest was his rambling answer about what to do with Afghanistan where Ryan came off sounding like he wanted war without end and more American deaths because …. freedom? Respect? It’s not him doing the dying?
The basic idea Ryan was expressing was simple and plausible – as he said at the outset of the lengthy Afghanistan debate segment: “We don’t want to lose the gains we’ve gotten. We want to make sure that the Taliban does not come back in and give al-Qaida a safe haven” – as that country was in the years leading up to the Sept. 11, 2011 attack on the United States.
But it was Biden who probably aligned himself better with American public opinion, asking Ryan crisply at the end of his sparring match with him on the issue: “You’d rather Americans be going in, doing the job instead of the (Afghan) trainees?”
Ryan answered, “No. We are already sending Americans to do the job, but fewer of them. That’s the whole problem.”
Biden shot back: “We’re sending in more Afghans to do the job.”
Charlie Pierce, in an excellent postmortem ‘splains it all to you:
This was humiliating enough, but when they started talking about war and peace, specifically in Afghanistan, Ryan looked like a toddler trying to cross the Hindu Kush.
He stammered. He vanished into his syntax. He gave Biden the chance to ask him if he preferred that American soldiers carry the fighting in the worst parts of the country rather than Afghan troops, a devastating comeback for which Ryan had no answer. He kept rambling about maintaining the country’s “credibility” until, if you closed your eyes, he started to sound like Robert McNamara in 1965. And when Raddatz asked him, deftly, what would be worse, another war in the Middle East or Iran with a nuclear bomb, he leaped in precipitously with the latter, while about 75 percent of the country, including the two other people on stage with him, looked at Ryan as though he’d lost his mind. He did, however, demonstrate a certain talent for pronouncing long foreign words that his briefers had taught him on Tuesday. Also, he explained winter.
The very unladylike Pierce also “cut(s) up what remains” of young master Ryan as he lay wounded on the debate floor, but you really need to go to his place to read the whole thing in all its bleeding glory.
Feel the burn, Paul Ryan. Feel the burn…