Reviewing the vice-presidential debate

October 12, 2012

Regarding the Oct. 12 front-page article “Biden and Ryan pull no punches”:

I think Vice President Biden “won” the debate, but he might well have put another cog in place toward the defeat of his own ticket. In his favor, Mr. Biden was colorful and full of flourish, varying his emotions, tone and facial expressions, whereas Rep. Paul Ryan was monochromatic and intense but lacking in any form of entertainment value whatsoever.

What Mr. Biden lacked in substance, he made up for with empty yet familiar promises that at least seemed sincere and reassuring. What the overly sincere and serious Mr. Ryan brought in terms of substance and truth was overshadowed by his inability to make the complex either interesting or understandable.

But one could not help but take note of Mr. Biden’s demeanor: He was dismissive, condescending and rude. He frequently shook his head, jabbed his finger, directed expressions of mockery at Mr. Ryan and clearly demonstrated his lack of respect for the “other guys.” His mannerisms bordered on disgust. Mr. Ryan was respectful and attentive throughout.

My son, not quite of voting age, also thought Mr. Biden was disrespectful. I wonder how many other almost-voters and young voters saw Mr. Biden, an elderly man to them, disrespecting the younger generation by not giving Mr. Ryan the time of day?

Dave Beers, Bethesda

What I saw and heard on the vice-presidential debate was an arrogant, rude, sneering, laughing older man facing a polite, intelligent younger man who knows how to move our country forward, put people back to work and respect those with opposing opinions. Vice President Biden’s performance was an insult to people watching the debate.

Eleanor A. Miller, Lansdowne

The Post noted that Rep. Paul Ryan attempted to use the occasion to display his “mastery of fiscal policy.” If that was his intent, he failed miserably.

On taxes, Mr. Ryan refused to disclose which tax deductions a Romney administration would eliminate in order to make up for its $5 trillion in proposed tax cuts over the next 10 years. Absent that information, there is no way of knowing whether the Romney-Ryan tax plan adds up or who would bear the burden of making up for the tax cut by giving up their own favored deductions.

On the spending side, Mr. Ryan denied that his ticket would increase Pentagon spending by $2 trillion over the next 10 years, despite the fact that analyses by the Cato Institute and the Center for a New American Security have demonstrated that Mitt Romney’s plan to put Defense Department expenditures at 4 percent of gross domestic product would do just that.

By withholding key information on taxes and misstating the Romney-Ryan position on Pentagon spending, Mr. Ryan raised a critical question: Is he intentionally trying to mislead us, or does he not understand basic arithmetic?

William D. Hartung, New York

The writer is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

The Democrats should let Joe Biden handle the next two presidential debates.

David Lamb, Alexandria

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