On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden proved that he is no statesman. While his demeanor may have been surprising – even shocking – to viewers and pundits across the political spectrum, it quickly evolved into the focus of post-debate analysis.
In one of the most disrespectful and arrogant displays of partisanship we have ever witnessed, Biden was smug, interrupting, condescending, dismissive, smirking, laughing about national security failures, and badgering the moderator for more time (which he got).
Biden showed that being older doesn’t always mean you’re wiser, more distinguished, or even better behaved. A title is rather meaningless if you aren’t qualified for the job or fail to rise to the occasion.
Biden has been a professional politician for about as long as Congressman Paul Ryan has been alive. When Ryan was still learning how to walk, Biden was well on his way to becoming one of the youngest senators in U.S. history. Yet after 36 years in Congress, two attempts at the Democratic presidential bid, and four years as vice president of the United States, Biden showed he is either as immature as the day he started or in a state of regress.
Biden also repeatedly showed a lack of common courtesy, reportedly interrupting the Wisconsin congressman 82 times throughout the debate.
Biden’s behavior did not reflect a man who has dedicated himself to public service, but rather, a man who has spent his life as an uncompromising career politician. If he wasn’t interrupting the conversation to spout his own partisan rhetoric, he was rolling his eyes, laughing, and shrugging dismissively as if he was above the conversation. He was not only rude to his opponent, but also disrespectful to the office of the vice president.
Biden’s actual rhetoric was no better. He began the debate with a stunning display of either incompetence or downright deceit.
He was asked by the moderator point blank why the Obama administration’s first reaction, which was repeated for days, was to blame a video and protests gone out of control for the death of four Americans in Libya including our ambassador? Biden responded:
Because that was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. . . . we said exactly what the intelligence community told us that they knew. That was the assessment. And as the intelligence community changed their view, we made it clear they changed their view.
However, testimony at a congressional hearing Thursday, hours before the debate, made it clear that the State Department knew it was a terrorist attack from the beginning. In addition, there are reports that the intelligence community, which Biden repeatedly threw under the bus, knew it was a terrorist attack within 24 hours. Yet, Biden claims “we,” the administration, reported what they knew when they knew it. This can’t possibly be the case. President Obama was still blaming an Internet video for the violence in his speech to the United Nations, two weeks after the terror attack.
To make matters worse, when asked why more security was not provided when the consulate requested it, Biden kept digging. “Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again,” Biden responded. Again, not true. Testimony before Congress clearly showed that Obama’s State Department was aware and denied additional security requests.
Ironically, the most stinging criticism of President Obama came from Biden himself. He looked right into the camera and said,
When you’re looking at a president, … it seems to me that you should take a look at his most important responsibility. That’s caring for the national security of the country. And the best way to do that is take a look at how he’s handled the issues of the day.
The American people are looking at how the president has handled the “issues of the day” – the terrorist attack on our embassy – and that doesn’t bode well for the President.
As the debate moved past international policy and our failures in Libya, and cutting past the constant interruptions and condescending attitude of the vice president, one other key factor stood out, a drastic difference in how the two men seeking to be our vice president view faith.
Paul Ryan clearly and succinctly explained how faith shapes his life. He said:
I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, of how to make sure that people have a chance in life.
He went into further detail explaining his view that “life begins at conception” – a view he has consistently held and backed up with a strong pro-life record. Ryan took on the rampant religious liberty violations and pro-abortion agenda of the Obama administration. He said:
What troubles me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. Look at what they’re doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They’re infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals.
Our church should not have to sue our federal government to maintain their religious liberties. And with respect to abortion, the Democratic Party used to say they wanted it to be safe, legal and rare. Now they support it without restriction and with taxpayer funding. Taxpayer funding in Obamacare, taxpayer funding with foreign aid. The vice president himself went to China and said that he sympathized and wouldn’t second-guess their one child policy of forced abortions and sterilizations. That to me is pretty extreme.
Ryan is exactly right. It is something we have been saying for quite some time. Forcing people of faith to fund the abortion industry and pay for abortion-pill coverage in their health insurance is a direct violation of religious liberty. Ryan even directly asked Biden that if faith were so important to him and the Obama administration, “why would they [the church] keep suing you?”
Biden on the other hand, while claiming “religion defines who I am,” took a strangely disjointed view of faith. He tried, unconvincingly, to explain how he accepts his “church’s position on abortion,” but won’t “impose it on others.” Yet, almost in the same breath, he said that we should impose Catholic social doctrine to help those who can’t take care of themselves through government coercion.
As we have explained before, Jesus’ commands to take care of the poor cannot be accomplished by abdicating our own personal responsibility and forcing others through government coercion (taxing, spending, and redistribution of wealth) to do that job for us.
While we don’t yet know if this debate had a measurable impact on undecided voters, it provided an eye-opening look into the Obama administration. The American people have now seen a disinterested Obama and a condescending Biden in the first two debates, a stark contrast to the competence and consistency of Romney and Ryan. If these patterns continue, the cumulative effect over the next few weeks could be enough to put Romney-Ryan over the top.
Jordan Sekulow is executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice. He served as a consultant to Romney for president in 2008. Matthew Clark is an attorney for the ACLJ. Anna Sekulow is director of digital policy for the ACLJ .