The Vice-Presidential Debate: Expectation Problems?

Now that we’ve had a couple of days of post-debate celebration, let’s consider the upcoming vice-presidential debate, this coming Thursday in Danville, Kentucky.

Are conservatives going to be at the mercy of unrealistically high expectations for Ryan, and unrealistically low ones for Biden? My fear is that if Biden doesn’t spend 90 minutes drooling and soiling his pants, the narrative will be that he “won” the debate.

Please, someone, tell me I’m wrong.

  1. RightinChicago

    You’re wrong

     Paul Ryan has been debate prepping with this Killer Rabbit


    As you know, that rabbit is dynamite

  2. Illiniguy
    RightinChicago: You’re wrong · 1 minute ago

    What the man said.

  3. tabula rasa

    I don’t think so.  

    Given the intelligence, articulateness, and presence of the two participants, it will be disappointing if Ryan doesn’t clean Biden’s clock.

    Ryan, just like Romney with Obama, won’t be afraid of Biden:  remember how he stood up to Obama at the Blair House Obamacare meeting.  Ryan knows enough to challenge Joe on factual misrepresentations and hyperbole.  Even clueless Joe has got to know he’s outmatched. 

    The moment Ryan gets under Biden’s skin (sometime in the first ten minutes) it will all be over.  

  4. John Murdoch

    Some observations:

    1. There are questions about the jobs numbers that have been released today–questions being asked by ABC, CNBC, and presumably others. 

    2. If this story–that the numbers are suspect–develops legs, Paul Ryan is perfectly positioned to use it to attack Biden. 

    3. Biden–let’s be candid–isn’t the financial policy wonk in this conversation. He can’t go into the numbers–he can only play “good ol’ Joe” and bluster.

    4. Even if the are-the-numbers-bogus story doesn’t stand up, the actual released numbers–particularly the U-6 number–gives Ryan all the ammo he needs. 

    5. Biden can’t out-wonk Ryan–even with months of debate prep. He can use personal charm, and tell stories–anecdotes about poor mothers who died when they lost their health care, seniors crying on his shoulder about the Medicare Cuts of the Evil Dr. Ryan, and so forth.

    6. Ryan has to maintain a cheery disposition–the “happy warrior” attitude of Jack Kemp and Andrew Breitbart–and clobber him with the cold, hard, indisputable facts. 

    Bring popcorn. It’ll be better than Wednesday night.

  5. Pencilvania
    A friend of mine posted on FB that he’d gone to see Biden at a rally recently & came away with this ‘powerful’ message: Whenever my father was asked to talk about his values, he would reply ‘show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you believe in.’  I wrote my friend, did Biden explain what his father would have said if he couldn’t show him a budget in 3 1/2 years?  I just looked now & it seems my friend has deleted my comment.  Hoping that comes up in the debate.
  6. Cato Rand

    You’re not wrong.  Ryan is known for being a wunderkind, and Biden is know for being a buffoon.  Ryan can, and probably will, wipe the floor with Biden on substance.  But on perception, it’s borderline impossible to overcome that disparity in expectations. 

    Plus — and I love Paul Ryan so don’t take this the wrong way — but Ryan has just a bit of the earnest “annoying teachers pet in the front row with his hand in the air all the time” about him.

    And Biden has just a bit of the “grandpa’s old, so cut him some slack if he says crazy things sometimes” about him.

    I think as a result, a lot of people are going to feel a tiny inner tug to cuddle up to Biden and see Ryan cut off just a little bit at the knees.

  7. crizzyboo

    You’re wrong. Ryan on his worst day is miles better than Biden on his best day. It’ll end up being a waste of Ryan’s time, but we plebes will get some entertainment value out of it.

  8. Richard Fulmer

    I think you’re right, Bag.  The “clock-cleaning” expectations are very high as demonstrated by the posts disagreeing with you. 

  9. Cutlass

    Considering expectations, my guess is that, at worst, it ends up perceived as a draw. I imagine it’ll be a low key, forgettable affair like most VP debates that don’t involve Sarah Palin. 

    Whatever happens will be quickly overshadowed by the next Romney-Ryan match.

  10. DocJay

    I hope Biden comes well prepared and does well articulating Obama’s ridiculous ideas.  The better Biden speaks the clearer Ryan can decimate him.  It’s all good.  Ryan is the smartest man in congress about the economy and that topic will be front and center.

  11. Spin

    If Sarah Palin can handle him, so can Ryan.  I just expect something similar to what happened with Romney and Obama.  An easy win and we all just sort of go ho-hum.  We were excited about Romney because we didn’t expect.  

  12. Sabrdance

    Please.  If Biden does spend 90 minutes drooling and then completes the debate by announcing he has twelve wild ferrets in his trousers the media will declare it a victory that there weren’t 13.

  13. At The Rubicon

    I faced the first Romney-Obama debate with much trepidation. I’m facing the Ryan-Biden debate with much anticipation.

  14. mask

    I’d be more worried about the perception that the young man on stage wouldn’t stop beating up the old senile statesman.

    Much like the Romney v Obama debate this will be a good chance for Ryan to make his case to the American people and they can see for themselves that he isn’t a granny killer.

  15. Cato Rand


    mask: I’d be more worried about the perception that the young man on stage wouldn’t stop beating up the old senile statesman. 

    That’s what I’m worried about too.  On the plus side, it’s a pretty obvious risk, so I’m sure Ryan and his prep team are cognizant of it.

  16. Kay Ludlow

    I think you are right about this. The average voter knows even less about Ryan than they do about Romney. All they’ll see is another nice, good looking man with a strong debate presence and a masterful command of facts clobbering Uncle Joe.

    And c’mon, who in their right mind thinks Joe Biden is more likable than Paul Ryan?

    Joseph Stanko: On a more serious note, it’s only us plugged-in conservatives who have a high opinion of Ryan.  The public at large didn’t know who he was before Romney picked him, and since then the MSM and Obama ads have defined him as a heartless man who wants to eliminate the “safety net” and kill Medicare.

    All Ryan has to do is show up without cloven hooves, horns, or fangs dripping with the blood of senior citizens and he wins the debate. · 2 hours ago

  17. Spud O

    I’ll be curious to see how the moderator protects Del(un)aware Joe, as Ryan will pin him a few times early.  I hope to see the same performance from Biden as we saw with Obama, where he hems and haws trying to remember the lines his handlers have been drilling into him over the last few days.

    I’d like Ryan to show up  and pull some chains out of his pocket, and declare Biden/Obama want to make y’all slaves to the government and more taxes, while Romney is removing the chains and looking to get government out of the way.

  18. Leigh

    I’ve wondered that too.  But are those expectations so powerful outside Ricochet?

    I’d agree that the style is the concern, not substance.  Biden’s not going to try on substance, he’s going to try to be sentimental and pull heartstrings. 

    Also, Ryan’s had lots of practice recently, but he usually seems a little less comfortable with a written speech in front of a large crowd, rather than a town-hall style with lots of audience interaction and back-and-forth.  There’s the risk of overpreparation.

    Thing is, the Ryan team has known all this for weeks.  I’m looking forward to it. 

  19. Hang On

    “My fear is that if Biden doesn’t spend 90 minutes drooling and soiling his pants, the narrative will be that he “won” the debate.”

    I don’t see how Biden can show up without drooling and soiling his pants.

  20. katievs

    I was nauseous with tension before the debate the other night.  But as soon as they walked onstage one thing was apparent: Romney was happy and relaxed and looking forward to it; Obama was tense and nervous.  I calmed down.

    I have no doubt whatsoever (does anyone?) that Ryan is looking forward to the debate and Biden is dreading it.

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In