Joe Biden revealed himself as a model student of Saul Alinsky, using mockery and disdain to deride Paul Ryan during their 90 minute debate Thursday evening. The Vice-president should receive an Oscar for his performance at the veep debate. He was rude, distracting, and defensive. Were the tactics intentional and part of a well-executed plan?
The commentators, pollsters, and media have weighed in – but is there more?
The post-debate headlines and blowback are mostly about Biden’s rudeness and erratic behavior. Not much media coverage on substance and issues. Make no mistake that was the plan.
“If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” (Alinsky Rule 10)
The media is playing along with the strategy of obfuscation and distraction. All-important ratings and entertainment value drives news coverage. As a result, we find ourselves mostly discussing bad behavior, not policy. Although consensus is Biden was mean, rude, and disrespectful, still a “win” for Biden.
Most of the media is fully participatory – malarkey has dominated the headlines, reminiscent of bread and circuses that characterized the declining Roman Empire. Until the next circus comes along.
The American people are the losers in this charade – we learned nothing new. The rhetoric, lies, and media coverage are the real story. (AP)
More importantly, Vice-president Biden embarrassed himself and his office – in front of the American people, and the entire world. Both candidates’ personal conduct during the debate spoke volumes.
Biden revealed himself as another poster-boy for hubris. It was laughs, not gaffes for Biden as the Vice-presidential debate unfolded at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. And when you can’t defend your record, or offer solutions, throw everything at your opponent.
With over 40 years in office, Joe Biden is the very definition of entrenched career politician. We saw the “real” Joe Biden. We should not make the mistake of underestimating his tactics or agenda.
Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals states, “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” (Rule 5) It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.” (More here)
Biden attempted this strategy, however Ryan did not respond, causing escalating displays of obnoxiousness by Biden. Sighs, finger-pointing, uncontrollable laughter, smirks, groans, and snorting. Biden inappropriately smiled and mugged throughout much of the debate, including the danger of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.
In stark contrast, Paul Ryan was mature, measured, respectful and on message, treating the discussion with the seriousness it deserved. Although criticized for being too polite, it served him well, reflecting his character and intellect, and deflecting Biden. His earnestness and substantive answers showed respect for the issues, the American people, and his opponent.
“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” (Alinsky Rule 12)
The media is spiking the football post-debate, praising Martha Raddatz’ performance as moderator and Biden’s debating skills. Unwittingly or not, Raddatz did little to control the debate or Biden’s interruptions. Paul Ryan often found himself debating both Raddatz and Biden, with the tag team of “let’s move on” Martha interrupting and changing topics whenever Ryan made a good point. Raddatz, a reputed liberal Democrat, did her job well, appearing to occasionally admonish Ryan and running interference for Biden.
Biden complained about debate timekeeping, but both sides were nearly even, if you don’t count interruptions. Paul Ryan had 40:12, Joe Biden 41:32 minutes of debate time. Strangely, Ryan was interrupted, questioned, and talked over by both Biden and Raddatz. Raddatz cut off Biden only 19 times to Ryan’s 31. (Fox News)
Biden was looking for his Lloyd Bentsen-Dan Quayle moment.
“Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” (Alinsky Rule 3) When Ryan criticized the administration’s handling of security in Libya, Biden said, “with all due respect, that is a bunch of malarkey”, attempting to portray Ryan as lacking experience in foreign policy. (More)
Ryan earned his stripes later, rebutting Biden’s attack on Mitt Romney’s 47% comment, saying, “I think the Vice-president very well knows sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.” (The Blaze)
A reputedly seasoned debater, Biden was often manic, arrogant, overbearing, out of touch, and out of control. He seemed overconfident in his knowledge and abilities, attempting to override Paul Ryan’s facts and message. His efforts to ridicule and unsettle Ryan failed entirely. When Ryan asked Biden what the unemployment rate in his hometown of Scranton was, Biden was likely spared potential embarrassment when Ryan supplied the answer to his own question.
“Keep the pressure on. Never let up. Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off-balance.” (Alinsky Rule 8)
Some described Biden’s antic as crazy, boorish, inexplicable, and unhinged. An Alinsky ploy. His purpose was diversion – sidetracking the media from facts, policy, and issues. And the failed record and policies of the Obama administration.
Was his strategy successful?
Biden displayed a range of condescension, bad manners, and arrogance that was not only unlikable, but unprecedented in presidential debate history. Paul Ryan was interrupted 82 times during the debate, according to RNC chairman, Reince Prebus. (Click here)
Joe Biden used every possible maneuver to try to dominate the debate, win back momentum for team Obama, and reenergize the base. However, Ryan remained unflappable, respectful, and on point, seemingly impervious to Biden’s childish attempts to marginalize and belittle.
Did Biden appeal to women? Was he likeable? Did he win independents and swing voters? Biden smugly referred to Paul Ryan as “my friend” fourteen times. His overuse grated, not ingratiated. (Slate)
“The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” (Alinsky Rule 9)
Biden often used theatrics to persuade – sham displays of emotion and gravity to discuss his Catholic faith and Roe v. Wade, righteous anger about supposed “cuts” to seniors on Social Security, and Medicare. Did he acknowledge any problems or offer real solutions for entitlement reform? Nope, everything is great.
Many of Biden’s answers sounded scripted and aimed to scare voters, particularly women and seniors. He was a caricature – of your worst date, overbearing father, or an abusive boyfriend – not “nice guy” Joe. He came across as insincere, frustrated, rude, completely lacking in facts and self-control.
Ann Coulter described Biden as “a cackling old fool, and really so rude.” (More)Brit Hume, “it looked like a cranky old man debating a polite young man.” (Click here) Except Democrats profess to dislike angry white males.
Biden’s failure to thank Paul Ryan during closing remarks was glaring and intentional. Earlier Biden said, “But I always say what I mean”. (More) If true to his word, Biden’s omission was intended to snub.
Elections are made of defining moments. History will be written. Biden knew his opponent had momentum in the polls and command of his facts. His only alternative was to distract, lie, and make a spectacle of himself. Did Joe steal the show? Did the media aid and abet? Voters will decide.
Our country faces critical issues. The American people are tired of bad behavior and lack of statesmanship from their politicians – the American people crave leadership, integrity, and inspiration. We are looking for honest debate and fair representation. Paul Ryan showed us that. That message will get out.
Vice-president Biden’s debate strategy and Alinsky tactics back-fired. Let’s hope Vice-president Biden keeps on laughing – all the way to the unemployment line in November.