Posted: Oct. 12, 2012


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Maybe the commentators would have gotten it if Martha Raddatz had wiped out a few glasses and cleaned off the counter.

Joe Biden and Paul Ryan acted like a couple of guys who bellied up to the bar after the presidential debate and took up where Barack Obama and Mitt Romney left off, with Raddatz as the friendly neighborhood bartender, letting them run on but keeping it cool, because there were a lot of people watching and getting a kick out of them.

It does not matter that Biden does not drink, as people here in Delaware know well. Like an old Irish pol, he does not need the booze to get going with the blarney.

This vice presidential debate Thursday night in Kentucky did not have the starch of a presidential debate with the candidates at their imperial lecterns and a moderator affecting the removed air of someone descending from Mount Olympus.

This was everyone literally at the table, Biden for the Democrats and Ryan for the Republicans and Raddatz moderating from ABC News, the equivalent of the close encounter at the local tavern.

It was "Our Joe" against the "Young Gun."

So naturally there were cheap shots and mockery and laughter and interruptions and finger-pointing and nervous sips from a glass.

There was Biden, getting in a "gotcha" at Ryan for knocking the stimulus bill while angling for a payout to go to his congressional district in Wisconsin.

There was Ryan, zinging Biden for going after Romney on his infamous "47 percent" quote. "The vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way," Ryan ripped.

This was not Lincoln and Douglas. This was Archie and the Meathead in "All in the Family," with Biden as the cranky old guy and Ryan as the know-it-all young guy, stuck with each other in alternative universes.

Biden did everything but ask Ryan to step outside to settle this, and Ryan did everything but roll his eyes like a teen-ager watching gramps fumble with an iPhone.

It really did not matter they were talking about Syria and tax cuts and abortion rights and such. It sounded the same as if they were arguing about Dogfish Head brews versus Pabst Blue Ribbon. Just look. . . .

"You can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important preferences for middle-class taxpayers," Ryan said.

"Not mathematically possible," Biden said.

"It is mathematically possible. It's been done before. It's precisely what we're proposing."

"It has never been done before."

"It's been done a couple of times, actually."

"It has never been done before."

"Jack Kennedy lowered taxes, increased growth. Ronald Reagan --"

"Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy?"

Classic, just classic. So the commentators running on about who won and who lost and momentum at the polls and getting indignant about the fact-checking? Lighten up.

If there is any decency left in politics, Ryan should have picked up the bar tab for this one. It was the best moment of his political career.

Biden, by the way, really should not have lectured Martha Raddatz. All she was doing was pouring the stuff.