Biden vs. Ryan: A generational smackdown

Biden, 69, treated the 42-year-old Ryan with patronizing disdain and interrupted him 82 times.

“Now you know what Thanksgiving with my family is like,” said Maureen Dowd in The New York Times. Last week’s debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican candidate Paul Ryan was an Irish Catholic donnybrook, with Biden playing the role of the bombastic older uncle who denounces “every political opinion except their own as malarkey.” The vice president, “amped to make up for all of Obama’s missed shots” in the first presidential debate, forcefully exposed the gaping holes in the Republican ticket’s tax-reform plans and nailed Ryan “for twice soliciting the very stimulus money he condemns.” Biden, 69, treated the 42-year-old Ryan with patronizing disdain, said Alan Schroeder in, smirking whenever Ryan spoke and interrupting him 82 times. “At times it looked as if Ryan was afraid Biden might ground him and take away the car keys.”

That doesn’t mean Biden won, said Michael Gerson in The Washington Post. He managed only to “further muddle a muddled narrative” on what really happened in Benghazi last month, and dismissed Iran’s defiant progress toward a nuclear bomb, insisting against all evidence that sanctions were working. Biden’s bigger failings were his “preening exhibitionism and smirking rudeness and egotistical exuberance and bullying condescension.” His Democratic apologists say it’s just “Joe being Joe,” but “Americans have every right to hate politics if it looks like this.” What a pity that Ryan failed to stand up to the bullying, said Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal. He gulped visibly when under attack, and “was too deferential.” Even when Ryan fought back, such as in defense of Romney’s remarks in the 47 percent video, he “resorted to canned lines.”

Ryan did have one very powerful moment, said Niall Ferguson in During a discussion of Medicare and Social Security spending, Ryan responded to Biden’s standard entitlement demagoguery when he noted that something must be done to preserve these programs for younger generations. “A debt crisis is coming,” Ryan said, noting that the national debt is now $16 trillion and rising fast. “We can’t keep on spending money we don’t have.” In other words, it’s time for Biden’s generation to stop running up the credit card, and leaving the bill for younger Americans to pay. Right there, we all heard “the opening round in the clash of generations that will soon dominate American politics.”

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