What Joe Biden Got Right
I wrote in a recent column about the “alternate universe” that some of our politicians seem to inhabit. Last night, watching America’s vice presidential debate, much of the time I felt like I was listening to a conversation in that universe.
Several statements from Vice President Biden were particularly perplexing:
Just a few “alternate universe” statements. What, though, are the headlines today? It was a big win for the vice president. “Feisty Biden gives Democrats reason to smile after debate,” wrote cbs News.
I do think Joe Biden got one thing right, and that was to expose the weakness in the Romney/Ryan foreign policy. He pressed the issue on what exactly a Romney administration would do against Iran, and against Syria—would it actually go to war against those countries? Governor Romney strongly criticizes the present administration, but in the end, I’m not convinced he would do anything substantially different. America is simply in no mood for another war in the Middle East.
Biden pressed the congressman about the 2014 timetable in Afghanistan, and I honestly couldn’t detect any substantive difference between what the Obama administration has done and what Ryan was advocating: He said he wants to pull out in 2014 and would really work to do so. With the possible exception of Governor Romney’s willingness to be openly friendly to Israel, it seems that most of what we’re getting from him foreign policy-wise amounts to a difference in rhetoric more than of substance.
It’s always hard watching these debates because it feels like the truth is given so little respect. There were a few exchanges last night where the vice president was directly contradicting everything Congressman Ryan was saying, point by point. Who are we to believe? After every debate we need professional fact checkers to tell us what was true, what was partially true, and what was completely false, and even there we get conflicting accounts.
I feel like I’m listening to my children explaining an incident where I’m getting contradictory stories because each child is shading the facts in order to put themselves in the best possible light while making the other look as guilty as possible. That is, if they’re not simply outright lying.