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A salute to Paul Ryan

John Hinderaker renders a harsh assessment of Paul Ryan’s performance in the vice presidential debate last night. Among other things, John wanted Ryan to assert himself in some decisive way to put Biden in his place. It’s a reasonable wish, but I don’t think “shut up” would have done it (maybe something less blunt would have) or that it would have served Ryan well.

I was struck by Biden’s rudeness and Ryan’s composure. On the stump, Biden frequently invokes memories of his father addressing him as “Joey.” I kept wondering last night, “Joey, didn’t your parents teach you manners?” I bet it’s a thought that crossed the minds of many viewers less partisan than I am.

My father passed down to me a motto that he learned from his father: Courtesy is cheap and pays big dividends. It would have served Biden well.

It was two against one: Biden was unrestrained by the moderator, whereas Ryan was subject to her interruptions and interjections. Under difficult circumstances, Ryan kept his cool and his train of thought. He frequently spoke through and over Biden’s interruptions while remaining more or less unruffled, at least to outward appearances.

To be sure, Ryan missed some opportunities. Biden’s dismissal of the proximity of Iran to achieving nuclear capability was indicative of the administration’s acceptance of the eventuality despite its words to the contrary. It is not serious about preventing Iran from achieving nuclear capability.

And I wish Ryan would have expanded on the enormities committed by Obamacare against religious institutions, or called Biden out on his shameless prevarication on this point. I hope Romney returns to it in the next debate, and it should in any event be part of every stump speech either Romney or Ryan makes. I think this falls into the category of opportunities missed by the nature of the Romney campaign, which seems to me the gravamen of Charles Kesler’s comments on the debate.

But I thought Ryan held his own against his more experienced opponent. To those of us who thought Ryan might crush Biden, this was both a disappointment and also an unrealistic expectation.

I find it virtually impossible to put myself in the place of undecided voters. They must surely have noticed Biden’s rudeness and Ryan’s knowledge and demeanor. Under the circumstances, I want to say that I admired the job Ryan did last night.

UPDATE: Looking for a poll of undecided voters, I find that a CBS poll gives Biden the nod. CBS’s poll of undecided voters should be compared with CNN’s poll of voters, in which Ryan had the edge.

JOHN adds: Biden didn’t succeed in ticking off Paul Ryan, but he did make me mad! Scott is right, of course; “be quiet” is more appropriate than “shut up”–which is what I was yelling at the TV. The consensus this morning is that the Democrats didn’t gain much of an advantage from last night’s event, but I still think that Ryan missed an opportunity to advance his ticket’s cause. I think that he should have 1) at the right moment, pushed back decisively against Biden’s constant interruptions–”Be quiet, Joe [not Mr. Vice-President], it’s my turn to talk.” and 2) more important, nailed Biden more effectively on some of his egregious misstatements, like his utterly false claim that he and Obama were the victims of false intelligence on Benghazi. Biden got away with a lot last night.

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