Now that was a debate. Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan gave America a great show last night, a 90-minute verbal slugfest as invigorating and entertaining as anything you’ll see on ESPN or HBO. It was also informative, a clash of policies and philosophies that cast the fundamental differences of the two tickets on major issues like Medicare, Iran and taxes in sharp relief.
So, who won?
“This was Joe Biden’s debate,” said NBC News political director Chuck Todd. “Paul Ryan was at it, but this was Joe Biden’s debate.” Plenty of folks agreed that Biden’s animated performance — the grins, the head shakes, the arms in the air — and his barrage of interruptions and attacks on what he memorably called Ryan’s “malarkey” earned him the title. A CBS poll of uncommitted voters gave Biden the win, 50 to 31 percent.
Others, however, dismissed Biden’s eye-rolling and blustery tactics and declared Ryan the winner. Some thought the Vice President was downright rude. And a CNN poll of voters who watched the debate had Ryan on top, 48 to 44 percent.
In the New York Times, David Brooks framed the VP debate as a “battle of generations,” with Biden dominating “emotionally” while Ryan was stronger “substantively.” Bloomberg.com saw the duel as a positive for both sides. “Both men met their objectives in their lone debate, as Biden filled in many of the gaps that had triggered Democratic criticism of Obama. Ryan held his ground, and neither committed any unforced errors.”
The real question is, can President Obama and Mitt Romney top the Joe & Paul Show? Tune in Tuesday to find out.