Election 2012

Very Specific Malarkey: The 2012 Vice Presidential Debate


Here's what we learned at tonight's vice presidential debate: Not much. Biden grinned wide and laughed condescendingly. Ryan gave us his best sorrowful eyes and talked real slow. There was some convoluted disagreement about Medicare, and taxes, and abortion, a few zingers, and a lot of shouty crosstalk. Early on, Biden promised to be "very specific," and mostly wasn't. Ryan rattled off numbers and anecdotes, but failed to connect them in a meaningful way. Both sides were pretty much okay with war, if that's what it takes to keep America strong, and were willing to talk over each other — loudly if necessary — in order to prove it. 

But mostly what we heard from the sidekicks on both presidential tickets was an echo, not an argument: Biden thought that President Obama had done a pretty good job, and didn't deserve blame for the continuing mediocre state of the economy. Ryan thought the administration had blown it, and that Romney was "uniquely qualified" to do a better job, though he barely touched on what might make Romney unique. The candidates offered lots of details, but little useful information. 

It's not unusual, of course, for political candidates to say nothing new, to simply talk their books and refuse to say anything interesting. But vice presidential candidates are somewhat uniquely handicapped — forced to talk up top of the ticket rather than straightforwardly defend their own ideas.

What we had, then, was a vicious proxy debate — a growl-off between two campaign attack dogs. They both drew some blood, for sure, but I'm not sure either made a convincing case for their masters. Biden's case for Obama was that it wasn't really his fault that the administration's policies haven't produced the desired results, and that Romney isn't trustworthy. Ryan's case for Romney was that Obama's policies have failed, and that's that. Both sides will likely claim victory, and most of what was said will be forgotten by next Tuesday's presidential debate. What we heard, to borrow one Bidenism, was a bunch of stuff. But, to borrow another vice presidential descriptor, most it was malarkey.

NEXT: Neither Ryan Nor Biden Win Big in Post-Debate Polling

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  1. Paul Ryan was startlingly specific about his tax plan.

    1. You’re kidding, right? “We want to close the loopholes, except for all the important ones.”

      1. He’s Joe. ‘Nuff said.

      2. His point, of course, was that the overall structure will work if the Democrats will do their part. He’s not going to get further demagogued against as the Only Big Bad Oligarch when both parties are equally responsible.

    2. Hey look, everyone, it’s our favorite midget! Hey joe, how did you like your boy Obama’s performance in his debate?

    3. The worst part was when Ryan said one of their non-negotiables was that they would not increase the deficit.

      Wow, holding the overspending to a trillion a year is really bringing the famous Ryan axe to the budget, I’d say.

      1. not increasing the deficit does not mean not decreasing it. it just leaves that open as a possibility.

      2. Do much critical thinking, CE?
        That’s quite a spin to say He will run a trillion dollar deficit. Granted it would have made it a little clearer to say he would not increase the debt.

    4. Paul Ryan was startlingly specific about his tax plan.

      Closing loopholes among the upper class and something about 20%.

      Then he said he would negotiate it with the democrats in congress in a bipartisan fashion.

      Biden got him to say he would not touch middle class tax loop holes.

    5. Every bit as specific as Sugar Coated BarryO was about PelosiCare.

  2. I liked Ryan best when he played Karen Allen’s boyfriend Boone in “Animal House.”

    1. Hi, that was Eric Stratton, Rush chairman, he was damn glad to meet you.

    2. I liked his Boone in “Lost” even better. It was up there with his original Boone in “Daniel Boone”.

  3. lol, more political spin and hot air and the sheeple will fall for it again, they always do!


    1. Oh, Anon-Bot, who could ever disagree with you? Inka-dinka-doo, YinxDoo.

      1. I miss porn-bot.

    2. How does it keep up with the news like that!?

      1. And how many spam posts does he get to make with the same handle before the server squirrels get him? This makes three, at least.

        1. I like the surreal atmosphere Anon-Bot brings.

      2. Simpsons reference. Nice.

  4. I learned that a country with 185k square feet and 22 million people is somehow five times the size of a country with 1.8 million square feet and 6.4 million people.

    1. Isn’t 185k square feet a medium sized town? Square metres?

        1. ruby, python, perl, fortran, or?

          1. gnuplot

      1. Vatican City? Don’t think there’s 22M people there though.

        1. Joe’z law strikes again!

    2. He sort of made an attempt to correct himself on that, but ti was pretty weak. And what he said didn’t make too much sense either way.

  5. I’m sorry I missed this episode of the drama. From that screen capture it looks like the sexual tension was exquisite. Did they actually kiss? Wait! Don’t tell me! … Did they? No! I don’t want to know. I can watch it on Hulu tomorrow night. Oh who am I kidding? I’ll look up the recap as soon as I get up in the morning.

    1. I’ll look up the recap as soon as I get up in the morning.

      Clearly, that shot has got you up now.

  6. The candidates offered lots of details, but little useful information.

    Oh, they gave plenty of useful information!

    I learned that Biden suffers from grinning Tourette’s.

  7. Totally off topic but WTF

    Rogue Ale’s brewmaster makes beer using beard yeast?!

    1. I have never been a Rogue fan. I don’t think they make a single beer that is a must have for me in any style. This just further reinforces that for me.

      1. I don’t think I’ve ever tried one although I see their stuff all the time. It’s an interesting experiment but it doesn’t particularly make me want to go out and start buying their products. I could have survived without knowing the source of their yeast.

        What’s next? All natural yeast harvested from the neighborhood whorehouse?

      2. Rogue makes an Imperial Pilsner that is surprisingly good but I’ve only ever seen it in their brewhouse restaurant in Portland.

        1. or every Morimoto Restaurant.

    2. Rogue usually comes up with attention grabbing concepts, but rarely follows through with a good-tasting product. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it though.

      1. Rogue definitely does go out of their way to come up with some unique beers, and not all of them end up being good for anything but a novelty. That being said though, they do have a great selection of top-notch standards and variations on standards. For my tastes, they make some of the absolute best stouts and porters available.

  8. Both sides will likely claim victory

    Just like both sides did after the battle of Skagerrak… Or Jutland, whatever.

    1. Silly OM. Those aren’t real places.

  9. Biden would have slauthered Santorum up and down that table.

    1. Where’s Teenage Girl when you need her? /ewww!

      1. screw her we need barfman!

    2. Trying to determined if you mean “slaughtered” or “slathered.” Rather disturbed by thinking of the second.

      1. A slathering of Santorum chutney.

        See if you can sleep tonight now.

        1. Thanks God I’ve already eaten my puri tonight.

      2. Exactly what I was wondering, slathering sounds a little too homoerotic for Santorum.

        1. So just like him, then?

  10. Oh dammit! I missed it. I was busy taking a shit, or something.

    Did Paul Ryan wear the tie I sent him?

    1. Depends on how bad your taste is.

      1. I think it was blue…

        and shiny.

        Was it shiny?

        1. I thought you meant your shit was blue and shiny for a second there.

          1. Spittle on my screen!

    2. That’s a lengthy shit my friend.

  11. Its a wonder that I made it through a full hour of that garbage, I would have been contemplating suicide if I had to suffer through any more of it. Finally I just shut it off-those two had very tired rhetoric and really didn’t do a good job explaining any stances or beliefs they hold. That said, they are republicans and democrats, I think they do that on purpose so no one can hold them to it!

    1. it was like watching the Romney-Obama debate over again. Only this time, Obama was speaking louder than Romney.

      1. Right. You forgot the part about the Obama laughing and grinning like a dumb-ass. WTF?

  12. Last year I spent six months participating in what I was told was a psychological experiment. I found an ad in my local paper looking for imaginative people looking to make good money, and since it was the only ad that week that I was remotely qualified for, I gave them a call and we arranged an interview.

    They told me that all I would have to do is stay in a room, alone, with sensors attached to my head to read my brain activity, and while I was there I would visualize a double of myself. They called it my “tulpa”.

    It seemed easy enough, and I agreed to do it as soon as they told me how much I would be paid. And the next day, I began. They brought me to a simple room and gave me a bed, then attached sensors to my head and hooked them into a little black box on the table beside me. They talked me through the process of visualizing my double again, and explained that if I got bored or restless, instead of moving around, I should visualize my double moving around, or try to interact with him, and so on. The idea was to keep him with me the entire time I was in the room.

    I had trouble with it for the first few days. It was more controlled than any sort of daydreaming I’d done before. I’d imagine my double for a few minutes, then grow distracted. But by the fourth day, I could manage to keep him “present” for the entire six hours. They told me I was doing very well.

    1. The second week, they gave me a different room, with wall-mounted speakers. They told me they wanted to see if I could still keep the tulpa with me in spite of distracting stimuli. The music was discordant, ugly and unsettling, and it made the process a little more difficult, but I managed nonetheless. The next week they played even more unsettling music, punctuated with shrieks, feedback loops, what sounded like an old school modem dialing up, and guttural voices speaking some foreign language. I just laughed it off – I was a pro by then.

      After about a month, I started to get bored. To liven things up, I started interacting with my doppelganger. We’d have conversations, or play rock-paper-scissors, or I’d imagine him juggling, or break-dancing, or whatever caught my fancy. I asked the researchers if my foolishness would adversely affect their study, but they encouraged me.

      So we played, and communicated, and that was fun for a while. And then it got a little strange. I was telling him about my first date one day, and he corrected me. I’d said my date was wearing a yellow top, and he told me it was a green one. I thought about it for a second, and realized he was right. It creeped me out, and after my shift that day, I talked to the researchers about it. “You’re using the thought-form to access your subconscious,” they explained. “You knew on some level that you were wrong, and you subconsciously corrected yourself.”

      1. What had been creepy was suddenly cool. I was talking to my subconscious! It took some practice, but I found that I could question my tulpa and access all sorts of memories. I could make it quote whole pages of books I’d read once, years before, or things I was taught and immediately forgot in high school. It was awesome.

        That was around the time I started “calling up” my double outside of the research center. Not often at first, but I was so used to imagining him by now that it almost seemed odd to not see him. So whenever I was bored, I’d visualize my double. Eventually I started doing it almost all the time. It was amusing to take him along like an invisible friend. I imagined him when I was hanging out with friends, or visiting my mom, I even brought him along on a date once. I didn’t need to speak aloud to him, so I was able to carry out conversations with him and no one was the wiser.

        1. I know that sounds strange, but it was fun. Not only was he a walking repository of everything I knew and everything I had forgotten, he also seemed more in touch with me than I did at times. He had an uncanny grasp of the minutiae of body language that I didn’t even realize I was picking up on. For example, I’d thought the date I brought him along on was going badly, but he pointed out how she was laughing a little too hard at my jokes, and leaning towards me as I spoke, and a bunch of other subtle clues I wasn’t consciously picking up on. I listened, and let’s just say that that date went very well.

          By the time I’d been at the research center for four months, he was with my constantly. The researchers approached me one day after my shift, and asked me if I’d stopped visualizing him. I denied it, and they seemed pleased. I silently asked my double if he knew what prompted that, but he just shrugged it off. So did I.

          I withdrew a little from the world at that point. I was having trouble relating to people. It seemed to me that they were so confused and unsure of themselves, while I had a manifestation of myself to confer with. It made socializing awkward. Nobody else seemed aware of the reasons behind their actions, why some things made them mad and others made them laugh. They didn’t know what moved them. But I did – or at least, I could ask myself and get an answer.

          1. A friend confronted me one evening. He pounded at the door until I answered it, and came in fuming and swearing up a storm. “You haven’t answered when I called you in fucking weeks, you dick!” He yelled. “What’s your fucking problem?”.

            I was about to apologize to him, and probably would have offered to hit the bars with him that night, but my tulpa grew suddenly furious. “Hit him,” it said, and before I knew what I was doing, I had. I heard his nose break. He fell to the floor and came up swinging, and we beat each other up and down my apartment.

            I was more furious then than I have ever been, and I was not merciful. I knocked him to the ground and gave him two savage kicks to the ribs, and that was when he fled, hunched over and sobbing.

            The police were by a few minutes later, but I told them that he had been the instigator, and since he wasn’t around to refute me, they let me off with a warning. My tulpa was grinning the entire time. We spent the night crowing about my victory and sneering over how badly I’d beaten my friend.

            1. It wasn’t until the next morning, when I was checking out my black eye and cut lip in the mirror, that I remembered what had set me off. My double was the one who’d grown furious, not me. I’d been feeling guilty and a little ashamed, but he’d goaded me into a vicious fight with a concerned friend. He was present, of course, and knew my thoughts. “You don’t need him anymore. You don’t need anyone else,” he told me, and I felt my skin crawl.

              I explained all this to the researchers who employed me, but they just laughed it off. “You can’t be scared of something that you’re imagining,” one told me. My double stood beside him, and nodded his head, then smirked at me.

              1. I tried to take their words to heart, but over the next few days I found myself growing more and more anxious around my tulpa, and it seemed that he was changing. He looked taller, and more menacing. His eyes twinkled with mischief, and I saw malice in his constant smile. No job was worth losing my mind over, I decided. If he was out of control, I’d put him down. I was so used to him at that point that visualizing him was an automatic process, so I started trying my damnedest to not visualize him. It took a few days, but it started to work somewhat. I could get rid of him for hours at a time. But every time he came back, he seemed worse. His skin seemed ashen, his teeth more pointed. He hissed and gibbered and threatened and swore. The discordant music I’d been listening to for months seemed to accompany him everywhere. Even when I was at home – I’d relax and slip up, no longer concentrating on not seeing him, and there he’d be, and that howling noise with him.

                I was still visiting the research center and spending my six hours there. I needed the money, and I thought they weren’t aware that I was now actively not visualizing my tulpa. I was wrong. After my shift one day, about five and a half months in, two impressively men grabbed and restrained me, and someone in a lab coat jabbed a hypodermic needle into me.

                1. I woke up from my stupor back in the room, strapped into the bed, music blaring, with my doppelganger standing over me cackling. He hardly looked human anymore. His features were twisted. His eyes were sunken in their sockets and filmed over like a corpse’s. He was much taller than me, but hunched over. His hands were twisted, and the fingernails were like talons. He was, in short, fucking terrifying. I tried to will him away, but I just couldn’t seem to concentrate. He giggled, and tapped the IV in my arm. I thrashed in my restraints as best I could, but could hardly move at all.

                  “They’re pumping you full of the good shit, I think. How’s the mind? All fuzzy?” He leaned closer and closer as he spoke. I gagged; his breath smelt like spoiled meat. I tried to focus, but couldn’t banish him.

                  The next few weeks were terrible. Every so often, someone in a doctor’s coat would come in and inject me with something, or force-feed me a pill. They kept me dizzy and unfocused, and sometimes left me hallucinating or delusional. My thoughtform was still present, constantly mocking. He interacted with, or perhaps caused, my delusions. I hallucinated that my mother was there, scolding me, and then he cut her throat and her blood showered me. It was so real that I could taste it.

                  1. The doctors never spoke to me. I begged at times, screamed, hurled invectives, demanded answers. They never spoke to me. They may have talked to my tulpa, my personal monster. I’m not sure. I was so doped and confused that it may have just been more delusion, but I remember them talking with him. I grew convinced that he was the real one, and I was the thoughtform. He encouraged that line of thought at times, mocked me at others.

                    Another thing that I pray was a delusion: he could touch me. More than that, he could hurt me. He’d poke and prod at me if he felt I wasn’t paying enough attention to him. Once he grabbed my testicles and squeezed until I told him I loved him. Another time, he slashed my forearm with one of his talons. I still have a scar – most days I can convince myself that I injured myself, and just hallucinated that he was responsible. Most days.

                    Then one day, while he was telling me a story about how he was going to gut everyone I loved, starting with my sister, he paused. A querulous look crossed his face, and reached out and touched my head. Like my mother used to when I was feverish. He stayed still for a long moment, and then smiled. “All thoughts are creative,” he told me. Then he walked out the door.

                    1. Three hours later, I was given an injection, and passed out. I awoke unrestrained. Shaking, I made my way to the door and found it unlocked. I walked out into the empty hallway, and then ran. I stumbled more than once, but I made it down the stairs and out into the lot behind the building. There, I collapsed, weeping like a child. I knew I had to keep moving, but I couldn’t manage it.

                      I got home eventually – I don’t remember how. I locked the door, and shoved a dresser against it, took a long shower, and slept for a day and a half. Nobody came for me in the night, and nobody came the next day, or the one after that. It was over. I’d spent a week locked in that room, but it had felt like a century. I’d withdrawn so much from my life beforehand that nobody had even known I was missing.

                    2. The police didn’t find anything. The research center was empty when they searched it. The paper trail fell apart. The names I’d given them were aliases. Even the money I’d received was apparently untraceable.

                      I recovered as much as one can. I don’t leave the house much, and I have panic attacks when I do. I cry a lot. I don’t sleep much, and my nightmares are terrible. It’s over, I tell myself. I survived. I use the concentration those bastards taught me to convince myself. It works, sometimes.

                      Not today, though. Three days ago, I got a phone call from my mother. There’s been a tragedy. My sister’s the latest victim in a spree of killings, the police say. The perpetrator mugs his victims, then guts them.

                      The funeral was this afternoon. It was as lovely a service as a funeral can be, I suppose. I was a little distracted, though. All I could hear was music coming from somewhere distant. Discordant, unsettling stuff, that sounds like feedback, and shrieking, and a modem dialing up. I hear it still – a little louder now.

                    3. Cool story bro.

                    4. Hi Mary.

                    5. What … the … fuck … I … don’t … even …

                    6. So, Paul Ryan dreamed up Biden in a psych lab and after they finish correcting each other, Biden is going to gut us?


                    7. I like the story about the girls having sex with the plant better!

  13. Someone tweeted that they wanted either candidate to articulate a clear, detailed plan on job creation.

    I didn’t watch the debate or Reason’s tweet fest (which is always better than the debate), but I will vote for whichever candidate doesn’t articulate a clear, detailed plan on job creation. So far, GJ is leading in that category.

    1. Romney’s plan, if you’d have watched the debate, is to make a plan with bipartisan support after he’s elected. Is that unclear and vague enough for your vote? Not wanting to sound condescending. I would have loved hearing something to the effect of, “Our plan is to get the govt out of the way so that the American People can carry out their own plans.”

  14. Joe bragging about the Afghan troops that we training to take over for US troops. I wonder if he’s talking about the same Afghan troops that keep killing our soldiers?

    1. “I’m not going to send an American boy over to do a job an Afghani boy should be doing for his country.”

    2. He also said the JCS wanted the recent troop reductions. After 5 years as a Marine Officer, i know that’s not true. Congress establishes the size of the military. POTUS sets policy. JCS figures out how they’re going to comply with both. are in charge of manning, training, and supplying the armed forces. I highly doubt that, at a time when many of My Marines were spending 7 months on and 6 months off in Afghanistan, the JCS said we needed fewer troops.

  15. I’ve posted this here before, but I can’t think of a more appropriate time to repost:

    ‘Swing Vote,’ the story of a presidential debate.

  16. Both sides were pretty much okay with war, if that’s what it takes to keep America strong, and were willing to talk over each other ? loudly if necessary ? in order to prove it.

    Ryan said no boots on the ground unless American national security is at risk.

    This is a more limited us of military power then has been practiced by the Obama or the Bush administrations.

    1. American national security is a very very expansive term nowadays.

      About the only American military actions I’ve found acceptable during the Obama administration were the SEALs hitting Bin Laden and taking down those Somali pirates.

      Oh, just thought of something. What if we take the drones we’re using to bombard Pakistan, and use them to escort merchant ships off Somalia instead?

    2. I believe he said national interests, which is a much, much looser standard.

      1. Well, he did say that humanitarian reasons were not sufficient to put boots on the ground, so there was some restriction presented at least.

  17. Ryan’s case for Romney was that Obama’s policies have failed, and that’s that.

    Bullshit….he said Obama’s policies have failed then said the word “jobs” like 15 times in a 3 second period.

  18. I found Biden’s performance tonight highly indicative of the way I view the Democratic party: lacking substance, logic or truth, but damned if he wasn’t hyperemotional and in your face about it.

    Ryan, on the other hand, just looked like he was anxious for the Blue Fairy to make him a real boy.

    1. haha. same tired, debunked arguments. Just more volume. maybe if he says it really loud, it’ll become true.

  19. What we had, then, was a vicious proxy debate ? a growl-off between two campaign attack dogs.

    Really? How was Ryan a vicious attack dog? Biden was sure. But Ryan didn’t look that way at all. If anything, he was too nice and let Biden get away with being a prick. Am I missing something here or is this just another case of “every time Sudderman admits a fault in a Democrat he must caveat it by pointing out the same fault in the Republican”?

  20. In other words, it was boring, tiresome, and told us virtually nothing we didn’t already know.

    Actually, neither candidate said much of anything that I could agree with, aside from Ryan on the contraception mandate. Ryan said a bunch of stuff about standing up for our values on the embassy attacks, but he didn’t say “freedom of speech”, so I don’t know what values he’s referring to.

    When asked what they are going to do about the growth of medicare spending, both of them spent the entire time insisting they aren’t going to cut anyone’s benefits. It was a contest to see which one could cut less and add more benefits.

    1. But the appeals from Biden directly into the camera saying to the elderly “aren’t you so happy with all your free shit? Fuck your kids” incensed me to a level I haven’t experienced in awhile. I wanted to throw things through the tv.

  21. Ryan thought the administration had blown it, and that Romney was “uniquely qualified” to do a better job, though he barely touched on what might make Romney unique.

    First robot President.

  22. I did not care for him, is expected from this situation, I did not really say, fell from the capital. Even if there http://www.cheapuggsbootsforwomen.org/ was a gun in the hand must not mean Doude Guo Zhang Yan. Thought this, I saw the boss Zhang nodded. Heroes do not eat immediate loss anyway, now she brings those things that I did not need Senate combined.

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