Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen. -George Orwell

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Full lyrics:
Imagine an America
Where strip mines are fun and free
Where gays can be fixed
And sick people just die
And oil fills the sea

We don’t have to pay for freeways!
Our schools are good enough
Give us endless wars
On foreign shores
And lots of Chinese stuff

We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And we’re kinda blaming you

We haven’t killed all the polar bears
But it’s not for lack of trying
Big Bird is sacked
The Earth is cracked
And the atmosphere is frying

Congress went home early
They did their best we know
You can’t cut spending
With elections pending
Unless it’s welfare dough

We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And we’re kinda blaming you

Find a park that is still open
And take a breath of poison air
They foreclosed your place
To build a weapon in space
But you can write off your au pair

It’s a little awkward to tell you
But you left us holding the bag
When we look around
The place is all dumbed down
And the long term’s kind of a drag

We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And yeah, we’re blaming you

You did your best
You failed the test

Mom and Dad
We’re blaming you!

Monday, October 22, 2012


 Sandra Fluke holds a rally in a parking spot at the Sak 'N Save in Reno
Have you heard the latest joke on the internet?  It's the one about notorious birth-control hound Sandra Fluke and her rallies in Nevada this weekend.  You know your 15 minutes of fame are up when you can't even fill a single space in a grocery store parking lot.  Judging by the photographs provided by the tens of people who were there, it really was as embarrassing and awkward as you might expect.  But you know what they say: war is hell!

Yes, that's right.  I'm talking about the war on women that is being waged by evil Rethuglicans in the vivid imaginations of the Democrats, desperate to exploit what they perceive as Mitt Romney's "woman problem."  After last Tuesday's debate the Democrats had fun promoting a meme based on nothing more than the way Romney phrased an answer about his efforts to hire more women when he was governor of Massachusetts. The "binders full of women" nonsense was kinda funny as an internet meme but completely ridiculous as a serious Obama talking point.  In fact, it actually works better as a Romney talking point. 

No doubt recognizing that fact, Virginia Heffernan of Yahoo! News wrote a piece on Thursday entitled "Romney and the binder blunder," in which she used the meme as a springboard into a few of the usual threadbare talking points:
First, his answer to a question about the grave subject of wage inequality flaunts his gender bias: In his anecdote, Romney ostentatiously refuses to consider qualified applicants just because they’re men.
Second, Romney in this instance was hiring for positions largely about optics: He wanted women in his cabinet so he could say he had women in his cabinet. He recruited women to be women—not cabinet members.
Third, the binders response raises the specter of a still more hideous idea. Before answering the question, Romney had been reminded that women earn about 72 percent what their male counterparts do—and his response was to say, “Exactly! That’s why, given half a chance, I hire women!” Bottom line, Romney recruits women because they look good and they come cheap.
The remark has done more than alienate women, for whom—as all recent data confirms—no one needs to do any special favors. For years, and to the despair of mothers of sons, females have been far more educated and better qualified than male applicants for almost anything. They also get jobs easily and don’t need someone searching high and low for binders of resumes. They just need to get paid fairly for what they do.
Lastly, Romney’s remark exposed something on flagrant display all night. It’s that he’s a boss—and only a boss. He sees everything from the throne of a massive realm: Massachusetts, Bain Capital, and the many businesses he’s “had the privilege of staffing,” or however he puts it.
From the standpoint of journalistic integrity, there's quite a bit of fail in Heffernan's ramblings.  First, she completely fabricates a weird claim of gender bias...against men?  In her fanciful interpretation of Romney's statement she chooses to portray his interest in hiring more women as being the result of a bias against qualified male staffers.  It's absurd.

Second, she claims that Romney only wanted to hire women so that he could say he had hired women.  Again, that's a rather self-serving assumption on her part based on nothing but wishful thinking.  Furthermore, she misses an obvious hypocrisy by ignoring the fact that most of Obama's campaign has been crafted to appeal to that he can get re-elected. Obama doesn't do anything or help any group unless it benefits him politically.

Third, she invokes the notorious "gender wage gap" and then completely misquotes Romney to make it seem as if his interest in hiring more women was based on how cheaply they work.  Really? Romney hired more women because he's so thrifty that he couldn't resist the bargain pricing? The 72% figure also contradicts Obama's political advertising which claimed that the figure was 77%.  And then there's this hypocrisy: The large wage discrepancy in the Obama White House.

Heffernan then steps on the liberal message itself by acknowledging what Conservative women already understand: the fact that women are doing just fine when it comes to succeeding in the workplace.  She acknowledges that women no longer need special treatment and so on top of everything else, in her mind Romney is guilty of insulting women by patronizing them?  Again, by the standards of her own liberalism it would seem that Romney would be a hero rather than a villain.  

But if having a patronizing attitude towards women is a bad thing then why is she so intent on defending Barack Obama?  As I said, most of his campaign has been based on patronizing women as lesser beings who are incapable of being concerned about issues beyond our "lady parts." And for good measure she throws in some quasi-class warfare rhetoric about Romney acting like a "boss" or something. 

I've pointed out the many reasons why Virginia Heffernan can't be trusted as a source for anything more than lame talking points and even lamer attempts at snark.  So let's go straight to the debate transcript:
QUESTION: In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?

OBAMA: Well, Katherine, that's a great question. And, you know, I was raised by a single mom who had to put herself through school while looking after two kids. And she worked hard every day and made a lot of sacrifices to make sure we got everything we needed. My grandmother, she started off as a secretary in a bank. She never got a college education, even though she was smart as a whip. And she worked her way up to become a vice president of a local bank, but she hit the glass ceiling. She trained people who would end up becoming her bosses during the course of her career.

She didn't complain. That's not what you did in that generation. And this is one of the reasons why one of the first -- the first bill I signed was something called the Lily Ledbetter bill. And it's named after this amazing woman who had been doing the same job as a man for years, found out that she was getting paid less, and the Supreme Court said that she couldn't bring suit because she should have found about it earlier, whereas she had no way of finding out about it. So we fixed that. And that's an example of the kind of advocacy that we need, because women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family. This is not just a women's issue, this is a family issue, this is a middle-class issue, and that's why we've got to fight for it.

It also means that we've got to make sure that young people like yourself are able to afford a college education. Earlier, Governor Romney talked about he wants to make Pell Grants and other education accessible for young people.

Well, the truth of the matter is, is that that's exactly what we've done. We've expanded Pell Grants for millions of people, including millions of young women, all across the country.

We did it by taking $60 billion that was going to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program, and we said, let's just cut out the middleman. Let's give the money directly to students.

And as a consequence, we've seen millions of young people be able to afford college, and that's going to make sure that young women are going to be able to compete in that marketplace.

But we've got to enforce the laws, which is what we are doing, and we've also got to make sure that in every walk of life we do not tolerate discrimination.

That's been one of the hallmarks of my administration. I'm going to continue to push on this issue for the next four years.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women?

ROMNEY: Thank you. And important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.

And I -- and I went to my staff, and I said, "How come all the people for these jobs are -- are all men." They said, "Well, these are the people that have the qualifications." And I said, "Well, gosh, can't we -- can't we find some -- some women that are also qualified?"

And -- and so we -- we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.

I went to a number of women's groups and said, "Can you help us find folks," and they brought us whole binders full of women.

I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.

She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.

We're going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I'm going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women. In the -- in the last women have lost 580,000 jobs. That's the net of what's happened in the last four years. We're still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 31/2 million women, more now in poverty than four years ago.

What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

This is what I have done. It's what I look forward to doing and I know what it takes to make an economy work, and I know what a working economy looks like. And an economy with 7.8 percent unemployment is not a real strong economy. An economy that has 23 million people looking for work is not a strong economy. An economy with 50 percent of kids graduating from college that can't finds a job, or a college level job, that's not what we have to have. 

CROWLEY: Governor?

ROMNEY: I'm going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.

CROWLEY: Mr. President why don't you get in on this quickly, please?

OBAMA: Katherine, I just want to point out that when Governor Romney's campaign was asked about the Lilly Ledbetter bill, whether he supported it? He said, "I'll get back to you." And that's not the kind of advocacy that women need in any economy. Now, there are some other issues that have a bearing on how women succeed in the workplace. For example, their healthcare. You know a major difference in this campaign is that Governor Romney feels comfortable having politicians in Washington decide the health care choices that women are making.

I think that's a mistake. In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who is insured. Because this is not just a -- a health issue, it's an economic issue for women. It makes a difference. This is money out of that family's pocket. Governor Romney not only opposed it, he suggested that in fact employers should be able to make the decision as to whether or not a woman gets contraception through her insurance coverage.

That's not the kind of advocacy that women need. When Governor Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, there are millions of women all across the country, who rely on Planned Parenthood for, not just contraceptive care, they rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings. That's a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country. And it makes a difference in terms of how well and effectively women are able to work. When we talk about child care, and the credits that we're providing. That makes a difference in whether they can go out there and -- and earn a living for their family.

These are not just women's issues. These are family issues. These are economic issues.

And one of the things that makes us grow as an economy is when everybody participates and women are getting the same fair deal as men are.

CROWLEY: Mr. President...

OBAMA: And I've got two daughters and I want to make sure that they have the same opportunities that anybody's sons have. That's part of what I'm fighting for as president of the United States.

CROWLEY: I want to move us along here to Susan Katz, who has a question. And, Governor, it's for you. 

QUESTION: Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter, because I'm disappointed with the lack of progress I've seen in the last four years. However, I do attribute much of America's economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration.  Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?

ROMNEY: Thank you. And I appreciate that question.

I just want to make sure that, I think I was supposed to get that last answer, but I want to point out that that I don't believe...

OBAMA: I don't think so, Candy.

ROMNEY: ... I don't believe...

OBAMA: I want to make sure our timekeepers are working here.

ROMNEY: The time -- the time...

CROWLEY: OK. The timekeepers are all working. And let me tell you that the last part, it's for the two of you to talk to one another, and it isn't quite as (inaudible) you think.

But go ahead and use this two minutes any way you'd like to, the question is on the floor.

ROMNEY: I'd just note that I don't believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don't believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives. And -- and the -- and the president's statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong.

OBAMA: Governor...
As you can see, a number of significant things occurred during that segment of the debate.  They include:
  • Obama was given a question that was obviously designed to let him brag about what a great president he has been for American women.  It might as well as been phrased "Tell us just how much you love women, Mr. President, and all the wonderful things you've done for us."
  • The question was based on a highly misleading claim, namely that women are paid only 72% of what men doing the same job are paid.
  • Romney talked about the importance of flexibility in the work place for women who have children and can't stay at the office till all hours of the night.  That's an important thing but the Establishment media ignored that in order to promote the "binders of women" meme.
  • As Romney was making some excellent points Crowley interrupted him and invited Obama to jump in and refute was Romney was saying.  
  • Obama then proceeded to tell one his bigger whoppers when he claimed that "millions of women" across the country rely on Planned Parenthood for their mammograms and cervical cancer screenings.  Crowley should have but did not call Obama on this blatant falsehood. As we know, she reserved her "fact-checking" exclusively for Romney. 
  • Obama also made the peculiar accusation that it's Romney who wants Washington to dictate to women with regard to their health care choicesUmm, what?
  • When it came time for Romney to get a question, it was not, unlike the Obama question, a softball designed to allow him to promote his record or his platform.  Rather, he was linked by the so-called "undecided voter" to the "failures" of the Bush administration and then asked to explain how he's any differentAnd who was responsible for picking the questions and the order in which they were asked?  Oh, that's right.  It was Candy Crowley, heavyweight champion of "fact-checkers..."
  • Brilliant, right?  Creating the opportunity for a little Bush-bashing while at the same time putting Romney in the awkward position of having to throw Bush under the bus and, possibly, irritate the GOP base.  Romney ultimately handled the question as well as he could.  But before he did, he tried to get a chance to offer rebuttal to Obama's follow-up on the pay equity question.  Crowley scoffed but allowed it, which caused Obama to whine about the time.  
Time and time again we have seen Obama and his clueless sidekick Joe Biden run away from their own failures by constantly interrupting, heckling and whining to the moderator when Romney and Ryan are giving their answers.  And when Romney or Ryan have been allowed to answer, the response from Team Obama is to accuse them of telling lies. Obama also relies heavily on friendly moderators and the Establishment Media to repeat and validate the accusations.

But the bias and total lack of professionalism we've seen from debate moderators is a topic for another time.  So let me finish this article by going back to the very first piece of legislation that Obama signed into law and echoing what so many other Conservatives have already pointed out: the Lily Ledbetter Act was never really about equal pay for equal work.  As shown in the transcript above, Obama himself admitted it in the debate.  And Joe Biden admitted it as well on Saturday.

Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that the law actually exacerbates the gender gap discouraging companies from hiring women due to concerns about expensive and frivolous law suits.   

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Much has been made of Mitt Romney's historic demolition of Barack Obama in their first debate.  The conventional wisdom going into that debate was that these encounters are of some interest to the media and political junkies but that they rarely have significant impact on the race.  Romney turned that idea on its head and his victory on that night in Denver has proven to be a genuine game changer.

Call this the companion piece to that debate.  

Tonight at the annual Al Smith Dinner, held at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan, Romney was a crowd-pleaser once again.  This event has always served as a welcome change from the harsher tones of the debates.  It is especially nice to see after Tuesday night's Battle of Long Island. 

The white-tie affair raises millions for the Gov. Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation and is organized by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York to benefit needy children.  More than 1,600 were scheduled to attend the dinner. The menu includes poached lobster tail and dark chocolate tropical fruit cadeau. Tickets start at $2,500. The diocese hopes to raise $5 million in grants this year. Last year it gave out $2 million in grants.

Mitt's performance is getting rave reviews and when you watch the video it's easy to see why.  The jokes are funny and well-delivered.  I also really liked how he seamlessly shifted from joking around to complimenting Barack Obama and family, as well as Catholic charities. I don't mind admitting that I get a little emotional at the point myself. I really think that this very Reaganesque outing for Mitt could be enough to make up the minds of some undecided voters. Well done!

Introducing the NEXT President and First Lady of the United States!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012


The big story on the eve of the second debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton doing some sort of mea culpa in an interview with CNN while on a trip to Peru.  It was all very sudden and the immediate reaction was that she had "fallen on her sword" on behalf of her boss, the President. But...did she?

I take responsibility. I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world [at] 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs.
In the wake of an attack like this, in the fog of war, there's always going to be confusion. And I think it is absolutely fair to say that everyone had the same intelligence. Everyone who spoke tried to give the information that they had. As time has gone on, that information has changed. We've gotten more detail, but that's not surprising. That always happens.
What I want to avoid is some kind of political gotcha or blame game.

The statement started out as a rather generic "the buck stops here" admission that smacked of a head coach publicly taking the blame for not preparing his team while saving the tongue-lashing for the locker room and the practice field. A nice gesture, but not particularly illuminatingAlso, note that she did not apologize for whatever it was she was "taking responsibility for" nor did she say anything that could possibly be interpreted as an apology.  Nothing.  What's the point of "taking responsibility for" something as serious as the death of four Americans if you're not willing to apologize?  

Furthermore, her tone and mannerisms were remarkably upbeat for someone claiming to "take responsibility for" the death of Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. This was pure Clintonian political theater. This was a CYA moment designed to salvage her reputation, not Obama's.  Given the deadly results of her apparent failure, one could easily conclude that a resignation would be in order.  But that's not the way Clintons handle their messes. 

As Roger Simon put it:
That's all well and good, but where does the buck stop on all the lying and covering up that followed? Yes, I used the unvarnished "L-word" because that’s what it was. How else to characterize UN Ambassador Susan Rice running around telling everyone in earshot that the Benghazi events were caused by an idiotic and unwatched YouTube trailer when Occam's Razor — not to mention rocket-propelled grenades, an ambassador dragged through the streets, and a safe house mysteriously under fire — pointed to a terror attack commemorating September 11?

And then the president, acting like an errant husband unwilling to confess his adultery (who do you believe – me or your lying eyes?), repeated the same swill on The View nearly a week later. Unconscionable.
So while Hillary stepped forward and made a pretense of accepting at least some of the blame, there are still plenty of questions that have yet to be officially answeredHer statement did little to change the narrative, which for Barack Obama began on Sept. 12, 2012, the day after the attack.  The following indepth timeline is damning, to say the least.

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post has come up with a list of questions that Hillary did not address but that need to be answered before this case can be satisfactorily settled.  Guy Benson at pointed out on Monday that FNC's Chris Wallace asked David Axelrod a direct question to which Axelrod could not give a direct answer.

Without knowing what is inside Hillary Clinton's mind, it's clear that Team Obama was hoping that Hillary's fake mea culpa would be sufficient to defuse the political issue and bring the controversy to a close.  This would allow the Obama administration and their allies in the media to claim that any attempt at further discussion about Benghazi on Romney's part would be nothing more than "playing politics" with the tragedy.

Indeed, Obama wants desperately to make the American people believe that it's Romney who has been politicizing the Benghazi debacle from the beginning.  The media was working hard to do exactly that as early as Romney's presser the day after the attack.  The media became a story in and of itself when they were heard on an open mic colluding with each other to manipulate Romney.

The reality is that it's Obama who was politicizing the issue of national security even before the attack occurred.  He's the one who has spent the last year making the killing of Osama Bin Laden a political issue. He's the one who has been leaking classified intelligence to movie directors and his media lapdogs as political propaganda.  He has always thought that administering justice on Bin Laden would make him invulnerable on the issue of national security.  He thought wrong.  But because of the non-stop bragging, including the pathetic pep rally the DNC held in Charlotte, he invited retaliation from Al-Qaeda.  

Obama used the death of Bin Laden to highlight his claim that Al-Qaeda has been decimated, forced onto the defensive and is no longer a serious threat to American security.  Al-Qaeda's brutal response was delivered on September 11, 2012.  Obama's been lying about it ever since.

It's easy to imagine the outrage and humiliation that Obama felt when he found out that Al-Qaeda had struck back and killed four Americans, including the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since the Carter administration.  Obsessed with winning re-election, Obama apparently couldn't handle the idea that his great national security achievement and the false claims of "victory" over Al-Qaeda could be damaged.  So he orchestrated a coverup that continues to this day.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


The conventional wisdom has always been that presidential debates are almost never game-changers.  It's true, some debates stand out in hindsight but were not recognized as being significant at the time.  Last week's debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama was not only a game-changer but a historic one.  Not in recent memory has one candidate so effectively eviscerated his opponent as Romney did Obama.

The gutting was so comprehensive that even Obama's loyal allies in the media were unable to escape the effects of their own meltdown.  Clearly they were fully primed to spin his performance in a positive way but wound up sputtering in impotent rage, lashing out at Jim Lehrer and even Obama himself.  The fallout over the past week and the satisfying turnaround in the polling has merely emphasized Romney's magnificent victory in the Rockies.

Which brings us to the vice-presidential debate tonight between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden.  If presidential debates are rarely significant the same is doubly true of veep debates.  There have been, of course, a few memorable encounters.  The 1988 debate between Dan Quayle and Lloyd Bentsen is particularly well-remembered, thanks to the devastating zinger delivered by Bentsen when he let Quayle and the world know that he (Quayle) was "no Jack Kennedy."

Among other things, that debate featured a true generational difference: the 67-year-old Bentsen versus the 41-year-old Quayle.  Tonight, 24 years later, we will witness another veep debate that features opponents from different generations: Joe Biden, who will turn 70 next month going up against 42-year-old Paul Ryan.  And rest assured that Biden would LOVE to land a blow as devastating to Ryan as Bentsen's was to Quayle.  Unfortunately for Biden, Paul Ryan is no Dan Quayle.

Expect Paul Ryan to talk about the role of government, balancing the budget, taxes and especially Medicare, which he will bring up before Biden in an effort to thwart an expected onslaught of accusations and lies.
"Because of the President's terrible performance, because Mitt Romney did such a good job of giving the country a choice, they don't have a choice but to have Joe Biden come at me," Ryan said in an interview that aired Sunday on Milwaukee radio station WTMJ. "He's a very disciplined person when he speaks in these kinds of situations. He doesn't produce gaffes in these moments," Ryan told Fox News last week, making a reference to Biden’s tendency to say stupid things in campaign speeches.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus admitted the vice president is no stranger to the pressures of debates, given his 2 previous presidential campaigns and 36 years as a senator. "Joe Biden is a gifted orator. He is very good at rhetoric, and I think is he very relatable," Priebus said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union. "They are very two different people. And I think it's going to be a great night."

Former debate coach for Mitt Romney, Brett O’Donnell told Fox News he expects Biden to come out with guns blazing. "I am sure that Vice President Biden got a phone call from the White House, and said, you know, 'Look, we didn't go after Governor Romney as much and so you have to turn up the heat.”
Tonight's debate has taken on heightened significance because of what Romney did to Obama last week.  Everyone agrees that Biden needs to score a knockout of his own simply to even things up again.  A clear victory for Ryan tonight would mean another five days of round-the-clock discussion as to how the wheels have come off the Obama campaign.  At that point Democrats across the country will begin jumping ship in order to salvage their own reelection chances.  Another five days of despair in the media, lamenting the looming defeat of their creature, would demoralize the base.  

It's well-known that Team Obama has long since given up any hope of capturing independents and swing voters.  The only chance for an Obama victory is to energize the base and get out the vote.  Repeated thrashings at the hands of Romney and Ryan would negate all Team Obama's efforts to do that.  That is what's at stake tonight.

Which is why the first thing you need to understand about tonight's debate is that there is exactly zero chance that the Establishment Media will describe tonight's encounter as anything other than total victory for Biden.  I've said it more than once that short of Biden bursting into angry, frustrated tears on stage there is no way the media will allow itself to have another meltdown.  If Ryan wins the debate in the eyes of the viewers the media will call it a draw - which will then be spun into a net positive for Team Obama.  If Biden wins a close one the media will claim it was decisive and spin it into a game-changer for Team Obama and the inevitable-Obama-Biden-victory-in-November meme will be given new least among Obama's cadre of media bodyguards.

But Biden, despite his reputation for being a reliable gaffe machine, should not be underestimated.  He is - and has always been - a thoroughly nasty piece of work.  He is an OG demagogue who has been making an ass of himself in Washington since he was elected to the Senate in 1972.  

As Jeffrey Lord of The American Spectator points out, Ronald Reagan himself referred to Biden as a "smooth but pure demagogue."  Throughout the Reagan years Biden was notoriously soft on Communism and totally defeatist in his outlook regarding the Cold War.  It's fair to say that if things had ever gone Biden's way back then the Soviet Union would probably still be around today.  But while Biden has been 100% wrong in everything he's said or done when it comes to foreign policy there's no doubt that he has earned his reputation as a loudmouthed legislative thug.  Reagan identified him as part of a "lynch mob" that included Ted Kennedy and Howard Metzenbaum (of Ohio).

Paul Kengor tells a story in The American Spectator about a classic example of Biden demagoguery that occurred in 1981.  It was during the Senate confirmation hearing for Judge William P. Clark, who had been nominated by President Reagan to be the number two man at the State Department.  Unlike Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Judge Clark was a close personal friend of Reagan's and everybody knew how important this confirmation was to the President.  Biden knew it and took it upon himself to make things as difficult and humiliating as possible for Clark during the questioning.

Biden began by patronizing Clark for his ability to put himself through school as the son of a poor rancher. "I, for one, think it admirable the way in which you have conducted yourself in getting to and through school," began Biden. "I have a great deal of admiration for you."

Biden then expressed his admiration by placing Clark in the stockade, asking him a series of specific questions he knew the judge would not be able to answer.

"I sincerely hope you can answer these questions," averred Biden. "Let me begin with southern Africa -- not South Africa, but southern Africa, such as Namibia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique, Angola and so on…. Can you tell me who is the prime minister of South Africa?" Clark answered: "No, sir, I cannot."

As the cameras clicked and the evening-news crews started salivating, Biden pressed on: "Can you tell me who the prime minister of Zimbabwe is?" Clark: "It would be a guess."

Senator Biden then ran through other policy specifics, curiously avoiding the Soviet-Cold War issues that Clark knew well. As he did, Biden inter-mixed his questions with feigned apologies. Biden: "I really don't like doing this, Justice Clark, but I don't know how else to get at the point."
But what exactly was Biden's point?  He knew perfectly well that Clark was not going to be making policy decisions.  His role as deputy was to be more of an administrative one.  Technically he would function as Haig's right-hand man but in reality would be Reagan's personal eyes-and-ears within the State Department.  It hardly mattered whether or not he knew the name of the current prime minister of Zimbabwe.  
For his part, Clark was a paragon of restraint and civility, calmly telling Biden, "I respect that position, senator," before adding, "I just have one point to make." Clark then explained, as he had in his opening statement, that President Reagan did not bring him on board as a policy expert, particularly on individual issue areas. "Regarding making policy," said Clark, "I have discussed this with both the president and the secretary [Al Haig]. Perhaps I did not make that clear, or maybe you came in a little after my description of what we consider to be the role. My position will not be involved in making policy, but rather in coordinating and implementing in the position as deputy secretary of state."

Clark had indeed made that clear, as did the other senators, who jumped in to reiterate the fact. Even the ultra-liberal Senator Alan Cranston (D-CA) rushed to Clark's defense. Biden didn't care.
The damage to Clark was done. Joe Biden may have been "sorry, Judge, really," but he had so humiliated Clark that the judge became the laughing stock of the world, as the international press lampooned him. Most appreciative of Biden's performance were the Soviets, who turned Biden's work into basically a TASS press release.
Viewers of tonight's debate should expect to see Biden attempt to pull off a similar stunt against Ryan, who is unassailable on economic policy but who is not known for his knowledge of foreign policy.  Which is not to say that Ryan can't hold his own on the subject of foreign policy.  It's just that it's not his main area of expertise.  Although Biden's judgment in foreign policy matters is suspect to say the least, he does have an undeserved reputation as a foreign policy "expert."  Certainly Biden himself thinks so.  He will try to exert his "mastery" while highlighting Ryan's "ignorance."
There is no need for Ryan to play that game.  When Biden asks one of his what-color-is-the-sky-in-the-universe-he-lives-in questions, Ryan should flash a look of utter incredulity and pivot to what Americans most care about -- how the middle class has been "buried in the last four years."  If Ryan does that, which I fully expect him to, he will further cement what is going to be an overwhelming Republican victory, up and down the ticket, on November 6.
I agree with that assessment, despite the presence of a moderator who under other circumstances would have been disqualified due to her prior associations with the President and one of his underlings.  This three-way dance should be of maximum interest for all those who care about their future and the future of our nation.