Grins don’t matter in VP debate, but a false Libya claim might

Luiza Ch. Savage on a key exchange in the evening


During Thursday’s vice-presidential debate, there were a lot of complaints by Republicans about VP Joe Biden’s demeanor: his laughing and smirking, dismissing Ryan’s answers as “malarkey” and a “bunch of stuff.”

Democrats, meanwhile, cheered his aggressive attacks on Romney and Ryan and loved the debate, which they found to be a much-needed answer to the president’s weak performance in Denver.

Romney-supporters are likely right that Biden came off as less likeable than Ryan, who kept his composure. But I’m not sure it matters. The role of the vice president in a campaign is to be the attack dog and to open wounds. The guy at the top of the ticket has to worry about likability. In that sense, Biden may have played it just right.

Biden was crisp, focused and effective in defending Obama and attacking Romney. Ryan held his own, and struck a reassuring, wonkish tone. But Biden seemed to have the upper hand many times during the debate.

Yet on one issue, Biden gave an answer that only raises more questions. Asked why the administration did not provide additional security to diplomats in Libya ahead of the deadly attacks last month in Benghazi, Biden said, “We did not know they wanted more security.” This seems to contradict recent testimony to Congress of some former security officials in Libya. Or perhaps it depends on what the meaning of the word “we” is?

Here is the full exchange:

MARTHA RADDATZ: What were you first told about the attack? Why — why were people talking about protests? When people in the consulate first saw armed men attacking with guns, there were no protesters. Why did that go on (inaudible)?

BIDEN: Because that was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment. That’s why there’s also an investigation headed by Tom Pickering, a leading diplomat from the Reagan years, who is doing an investigation as to whether or not there are any lapses, what the lapses were, so that they will never happen again.

RADDATZ: And they wanted more security there.

BIDEN: Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again. And by the way, at the time we were told exactly — 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.

That’s why I said we will get to the bottom of this. You know, usually when there’s a crisis, we pull together. We pull together as a nation. But as I said, even before we knew what happened to the ambassador, the governor was holding a press conference — was holding a press conference. That’s not presidential leadership.

Expect to hear Obama pressed on this question in the next debate.

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Grins don’t matter in VP debate, but a false Libya claim might

  1. This comment was deleted.

    • Well, your avatar sure suits your style of writing. So that’s something you’ve got going for you, I guess.

      • I also notice you don’t have any facts about Syria or Libya… and you didn’t get pictures of the dead from the Bin Laden raid before Al Jazeera like I did…

    • Are you this insane on purpose? Why does Macleans keep letting you post here?

      • Your morals, your code, it’s a bad joke dropped at the first sign of trouble… You’re only as good as the world allows you to be.

        When the chips are down, you “civilized” people will eat each other.

        You see, I’m not a monster, I’m just ahead of the curve.

        You have all these rules and you think they’ll “save” you, when the only sensible way to live in this world is without rules.

        I already told you, I’m not here to “save” anybody. I’m like a dog chasing cars, I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it…

        You’re a schemer, a schemer trying to control your little world… I’m not a schemer, I try to show you schemers how pathetic your attempts to control things really are.

        I introduce a little anarchy, upset the established order and everything becomes chaos.

        I’m an agent of chaos… And you know the thing about chaos?

        It’s fair…

        • Nah, you’re just a pinhead.

          • And you are a dîckhead…

        • You’re all right. You have some interesting points. Lenny is a partisan, he’s never said a provocative thing in his life. Don’t bother with him.

  2. VP Biden also said Ryan was one who cut security funding by $300 million more than proposed. now tell me who is responsible and who is lying! one simply cannot be the same person to put the cyanide in the drink and then scream murder after the fact! now do you get it?

    • Ryan and his cohorts put the cyanide in the drink.

  3. Good summary.

    Biden, knowing the media would jump on any Ryan miscue like a hungry dog on a steak, went deliberately overboard on the obnoxiousness to try and draw the debating rookie Ryan into that mistake that would then be amplified by the media into a Category 5 Gaffe. It was a calculated gamble, and I would even argue a smart one for the Dems to take, because he knows the media are desperate to be able to call the debate for him and draw Ryan into a gaffe that would stall Romney’s momentum…but in the end it didn’t really pay off. He didn’t get that mistake, and although he held his own on substance other than the whopper he told on Benghazi, he ended up coming across as a condescending jerk…but agree with your point that it doesn’t matter so much from the VP slot. Obama can’t afford to do this, so this was the only shot they had at something like this. A high reward, low risk gamble that didn’t pay off, and the debate is either a tie, or a split decision for Ryan, which probably doesn’t move the needle much either way.

    By the way, you missed another big Biden lie:

    “By the way, they talk about this great recession like it fell out of the sky–like, ‘Oh my goodness, where did it come from?’” Biden said. “It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, at the same time, put a prescription drug plan on the credit card, a trillion dollar tax cut for the very wealthy.”

    “I was there, I voted against them,” Biden continued. “I said, no, we can’t afford that.”

    Senator Biden voted in favour of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I mean, I know it’s not a crucial lie like how fast you can run a marathon, but still worth pointing out.

    • If I were to tell the press millions of Americans would be blown up by an Iranian nut job or that Democrats have stolen their entire life savings with bailouts and Obamacare, nobody panics because it is all part of the plan…

      But if I say a few homosexuals in San Francisco are upset over their little wee wees, why, everyone just loses their minds!


      A. Joker

      • There’s no other reason. I think he got a split decision because he achieved his primary objective, and Biden only partially achieved his. Ryan was there to do no harm to the ticket and not make any gaffes that would carry the news cycle, and not to fall for Biden trying to draw him in with his disrespectful behaviour. In other words, don’t interrupt Romney’s momentum. That’s all he was there to do, and he succeeded.

        I think Biden partially succeeded. He was there not to show up as the Bozo the Clown he sometimes is, and to stop the bleeding from Obama’s debate loss, and I’d say that he mostly succeeded at that. His other objective was to have the news cycle dominated by a Ryan blunder, and on this objective he failed. He took the calculated risk of being a total jerk in the hopes of capitalizing on Ryan’s youth and inexperience in debates and drawing him into an emotional mistake. Had he not done that I think he would have been declared the winner since a tie always goes to the Democrat. A worthwhile risk, and I thought for a moment the Kennedy jab might stick, but it didn’t pan out, and his obnoxiousness likely cost him a bit on his first objective, since all anyone is talking about today is his laughter and not any errors by Ryan, and the consensus seems to be that Ryan came off as more “presidential” (backed up by a few polls I’ve seen); but he knows well that any flak he takes will be gone in a day, whereas any mistake Ryan made would have lasted through November.

        In other words, probably a win for Ryan, but also probably not anything that will have any significant effect on the campaign either. Romney had the momentum going in, and still has it coming out.

        • If Biden succeeded in “stopping the bleeding” i can’t really see how you can claim that Romney still has the same momentum coming out of this debate. Right now everyone is holding their breath until the next one. That one will be Romney’s to lose as much as it will be Obama’s to pull some more of the rug back his way. Spin it how you like, but obnoxious jerk or merely feisty veteran, Biden succeeded in stopping any more of the rug slipping out from under his team.If that were not the case there would be no need for team Romney/Ryan and its peanut gallery over at Fox to be declaring that it was a clear win for Ryan. I’m not buying it anyway. I doubt if most of the MSM is either.

          • MSNBC says Biden won, Fox says that Ryan won. What exactly were you expecting? Their is spin on both sides, not just from the “peanut gallery” at Fox. MSNBC is no shining example of unbiased coverage nor are other left wing media sources. NY Times and CBS come to mind.


            Have a read of this first. As far as i know most of the MSM is narrowly giving this to Biden – including the twitterverse.

  4. waiting for something intelligent

    • From Biden?

      It will be a chilly day in hell…

  5. Biden: “(Syria) is 5 times as large (as Libya) geographically”.

    libya: 679,362 square miles
    syria: 71,500 square miles

    Yeah, that would mean Libya is almost 10 times the size of Syria.

    Remember when that kind of geographic ignorance was enough to call a VP candidate stupid and unfit for office? Seems like only about 4 years ago…Good times, good times…

    • Hmmm, i get your point completely…pity Ryan didn’t. Must have been paying as much attention as Biden in HS geography.

      • Sodom Hussein Obama

        • Get help, you’re sick bud.

  6. Ahh I love the smell of sour grapes in the morning.

  7. Why does Maclean’s only like the Republicans?

    • Are you serious?

      • @margeryk


      • He is cum drunk…

        • And u are drunk if you think I’m actually drunk.

  8. Biden has terrible math – graduating 76 out 0f 85 he thinks he was in top half of the class.
    Last night was not the first time Biden told lies with a smile on his face – it has been a pattern of his life as we learn from this excerpt.

    He then went on to say that he “went to law school on a full academic scholarship – the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship,” Mr. Biden said. He also said that he “ended up in the top half” of his class and won a prize in an international moot court competition. In college, Mr. Biden said in the appearance, he was “the outstanding student in the political science department” and “graduated with three degrees from college.”

    In his statement today, Mr. Biden, who attended the Syracuse College of Law and graduated 76th in a class of 85, acknowledged: “I did not graduate in the top half of my class at law school and my recollection of this was inacurate.”

    As for receiving three degrees, Mr. Biden said: “I graduated from the University of Delaware with a double major in history and political science. My reference to degrees at the Claremont event was intended to refer to these majors – I said ‘three’ and should have said ‘two.’ ” Mr. Biden received a single B.A. in history and political science…

    “With regard to my being the outstanding student in the political science department,” the statement went on. “My name was put up for that award by David Ingersoll, who is still at the University of Delaware.”

    In the Sunday interview, Mr. Biden said of his claim that he went to school on full academic scholarship: “My recollection is – and I’d have to confirm this – but I don’t recall paying any money to go to law school.” Newsweek said Mr. Biden had gone to Syracuse “on half scholarship based on financial

    • Biden is good at telling lies.

  9. And they will continue to spin the deceit over this mess until the election is over. Just maybe, with a Romney win, we will get the truth out of this wretched administration. And they have the nerve to talk about Romney changing positions.

  10. You know, Biden’s little fib on Libya has taken on a whole new dimension.

    It’s resulted in the administration trying to get Biden/Obama off the hook by throwing Hillary and the State department under the bus

    Does anyone think that pissing off Bill and Hillary 3 weeks before an election is a good idea? How many skeletons does she know about? She could bury Obama.

    Luiza, you’re weeks late to this but I’m glad you are starting to wake up to how huge a problem Benghazi is for Obama. Just to put it in perspective, Obama lied about the terrorist murder of an ambassador on the anniversary of September 11 and days later blamed it on an innocent filmmaker even knowing that it was a terrorist attack, to coverup his adminstration’s bungling of the security situation.

    Nixon lied about a burglary.

    • Makes me think Bill Clinton is regretting the fact he ran those Obama ads and did that speech at the convention which was probably the only reason for Obama’s convention bounce.

  11. It is telling that 3 weeks before the election, the Dems are trying to reenergize their base instead of trying to persuade the undecided.

  12. I’d say I like this post, if it wasn’t about 2 weeks past when the Obama Administration began peddling this lie. Why is it that career journalists are so behind the news that the rest of us have known about for weeks? (honest question)

    • Exactly.

      I mean look at this. This was posted over 2 weeks ago. This is a f*cking bombshell. All part of the cover up. Yet not one journalist has followed up on this. Not one.

      As to why? I think Pat Caddell had the answer. This is long, but worth the read, and is why I am so vocal about this topic here.

      • Rex Murphy has a commentary on this in the Post that’s worth reading.

    • At least she will report it. The rest of the journalists at this mag, including the main other one (Parisella) assigned to cover US politics, have no intention of saying a bad word about the anointed one and his sidekick Biden.

      • Yep, I agree, Ms. Savage strikes me as the rare journalist who makes a good faith effort to write objectively, with the goal of informing the public rather than shaping public opinion. However, it’s a bit discouraging that 5 minutes on gets me the same news 2 weeks sooner.

        • I know what you mean. I’m getting all the latest news on Libya from John G.

  13. Irregardless of this debate or future debates, well over 95% of the American public have already decided who they are voting for. Make a note people. Barrack Obama and his extremist, radical leftist democrats will be voted out in November by the American electorate who are fed up with broken promises, excuses, blame everyone else one liners, hugely growing national and personal debt, incredibly high unemployment, and absolutely no plan on how to correct the problems. Now, with the equivalent of watergate, where an American ambassador and three other Americans were murdered, after Obama’s state department refused to send protection, despite frequent warnings from the Libyan government, and multiple pleadings from the Ambassador himself, and then the Obama and Clinton coverup. Good bye Obama and Good Riddance.