There’s plenty said about both candidates, but there seems to be more dismay aimed at Biden.
Heidi Rodgers caught the beginning of it before she had to leave for her job as an overnight customer service manager at Walmart. “Biden was laughing at Ryan,” she said. “Something about malarkey. It didn’t seem like Biden was taking it seriously.”
At Uncle Nancy’s Coffee House, on the town square right across the street from the 1911 Jasper County Courthouse, I entered just in time to hear a derisive crack about Biden from a woman in her late 60s: “I thought it was disrespectful. Joe with all that malarkey business.”
The woman, who would not reveal her name, is part of a floating Newton coffee klatch in which one of the cardinal rules is “never talk politics.” But Biden was so exasperating to this loyal Republican that she violated protocol not knowing that a reporter was sitting nearby.
Carl Repp, a Maytag retiree in his early 60s, expressed exaggerated remorse to his friends at Uncle Nancy’s for choosing the tightly fought VP debate over the tightly fought Thursday night NFL game (won by the Titans over the Steelers 26-23).
“I thought it was a good debate,” Repp said. “I’m a Democrat. I thought Joe did a great job, but I wish that he didn’t interrupt so much.”
Most mornings around 8 a.m., Repp shares coffee with Randy Wagner, another Maytag retiree, and Curt Brass, a police officer. Wagner is a disgruntled Democrat who jokes that he’s leaning towards Alfred E. Neuman, the Mad magazine icon, for president. But, in truth, Wagner admitted that he almost certainly will be voting for Obama.
“I don’t like Mitt Romney and what he stands for,” Wagner said. But while the Democrats can get Wagner’s vote, they can’t inspire him to watch the debates.
The 39-year-old Brass, who served two tours of duty with the Marines in Iraq, is part of that rare species of undecided voters who are eagerly sought by political campaigns and wayward reporters. And, yes, Brass watched every minute of the VP debate.
“I thought Ryan held his own – and I wanted to see how he would do up against the more experienced Biden,” Brass said. “I thought that Biden was a bit theatrical with his scowling and his smirking and his laughter.”
These voters feel like I do. There was so much banter last night that the substance got lost. Like the folks quoted above, I found the use of the word “malarkey” accompanied by the constant smirking and giggling of Biden during serious discussions about Libya and folks who are hurting in our economy to be a bit disgusting.
Much from the Bush years wound up coming back to haunt Ryan as I thought it would. However; what Biden forgot to mention in his trip down memory lane is that his party controlled Congress in the last two years of the Bush administration’s term.
Overall, Paul Ryan came across more serious, more prepared, and more calm and cool under pressure. Biden tried too hard to make up for what Obama lacked in his debate with Romney that he actually wound up alienating a lot of people.
That’s okay if those people were already voting against you anyway. But in a critical state like Iowa, you’re likely to feel the burn somewhere down the road.