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Biden v. Ryan: The Old Pro Takes On the Lying Kid

"That's a lot of malarkey," Biden said of Ryan's lies -- and then went on to slice and dice, smiling all the while.

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At that, Biden literally threw up his hands in a grand gesture, saying: "[T]hey talk about this Great Recession if it fell out of the sky, like, 'Oh, my goodness, where did it come from?' It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-­dollar tax cut for the very wealthy. I was there. I voted against them. I said, no, we can't afford that." 

Stop talking about how you care about people," Biden said to Ryan, just before the hand-waving moment. "Show me something. Show me a policy. Show me a policy where you take responsibility."

With regard to Romney's "47 percent" remarks, Biden insisted that Romney meant what he said, despite his recent walk-back of those comments as "wrong." 

"[I]f you heard that ­­ that little soliloquy on 47 percent and you think he just made a mistake," Biden said, "then... ­I think­­ I got a bridge to sell you.  

The longest war, and an epic 'tragedy'

On the matter of the war in Afghanistan -- our nation’s longest war -- Biden fared less well, unable to muster an adequate rejoinder to Raddatz’s citation of the fact that the U.S. had just passed the milestone of 2,000 U.S. military deaths in the decade-long conflict.

“The primary objective is almost completed,” Biden replied. “Now, all we're doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security. It's their responsibility, not America's.”

Ryan did even worse on that question, though, first contesting the administration’s announcement of the drawdown, and then saying that he and Romney actually agreed with the timeframe. He also challenged a military decision to pull troops out of the eastern part of the country, where the fighting is most fierce, which brought a response of incredulity from Biden, who contended that’s exactly where not to put U.S. troops.

There was no discussion of drone warfare, which has killed hundreds of civilians and created an atmosphere of ill will toward the United States throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Biden deftly handled a tough opening question on the apparently inadequate security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where the the U.S. ambassador and three staff members died in a militant attack last month, by pivoting to a broader critique of Ryan’s and Romney’s foreign policy. Asked by Raddatz whether or not the attack was “a security failure,” Biden replied, “What is was, it was a tragedy, Martha.”

As Ryan took his turn with a long-winded answer assailing the administration’s handling of the Libya attack, Biden laid in wait, broadly grinning, displaying a set of teeth that looked unnaturally white. Responding to Raddatz's question of whether he thought that Romney's press conference on the matter, held "before we even knew what happened to the ambassador," was appropriate. (At that presser, Romney accused the president of sympathizing with those who attacked the consulate.)

"[I]t's never too early to speak out for our values," Ryan said, after falsely accusing the administration of putting out a statement "from Cairo" that he said it later "repudiated." (Actually, the U.S. embassy in Cairo issued a statement denouncing an inflamatory, anti-Muslim video produced by an American an posted on YouTube, apparently in a failed attempt the calm the situation there, where news of the video was about to set off anti-American protests.) He went on to accuse the administration of making egregious defense cuts.

Then Biden landed his first blow. “With all due respect, that’s a lot of malarkey...” Biden said. “The congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for, number one. So much for the embassy security piece.”

 
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