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Paul Ryan Vs. Joe Biden: There is No Comparison


The great majority of vice-presidents have been famously insignificant—unless, of course, their boss dies or resigns, and they get to move into Joe Biden vs. Paul Ryanthe Oval Office. They usually landed on the ticket because they filled some need for demographic, regional, or ideological balance. Then they spend four or eight years in office obeying presidential orders, however trivial, and trying to stay out of trouble.

The office of Vice-President has grown in power recently--- some argue that Dick Cheney was the most powerful vice president to hold office.

With that said, the VP on the Presidential ticket has been placed under more scrutiny than ever by media pundits. In 2008, the Biden-Palin debate was the most watched VP debate ever. Most pundits, especially after a disastrous Katie Couric interview, felt that Biden was the more qualified candidate.

This time; however, Biden loses in a knockout.

Paul Ryan is a real addition to Mitt Romney’s camp. He’s young, intelligent, well-informed and articulate. He has a genuine personal appeal; in fact, Paul Ryan’s P90X workout was one of the web’s most popular searchers last week.

Plus he is a policy wonk. Since 2008, Paul Ryan has been hailed, or damned, as the “intellectual leader” of his part thanks to his bold proposal to reform entitlement spending detailed in his, A Roadmap for America’s Future.  While Romney has spent the past three years bobbing and weaving around his erstwhile moderate positions, Ryan has proudly stood up for a program of privatization and budget cuts embraced by no Republican candidate so eagerly since Barry Goldwater.

I think the Ryan choice is a stroke of contrasting genius. Joe Biden, in comparison, seems like Star Wars’ Jar Jar Blinks thanks to his bundle of malapropisms, confusion, malice and profound shallowness that he displays whenever he is in front of a television camera. Even Democrats are calling him a “gaffe-machine.” Just examine his path of incoherent musings Biden provided last week.

In less than two days, he stated that it is still the 20th century; he misnamed the state he was speaking in and most viciously, gave one of the crudest, most demeaning racist shoutouts ever.

Speaking to a mixed-race crowd, nearly half African-American, he chanted in a cheap psuedo-preacher tone about how if Romney/Ryan won, the banks were going to be “unchained.” Then in the same awkward faux-familiar voice he went one further: They, Romney and his people, “were gonna put y’all back in chains.”

At its worse, we should take Biden at his crudest.  The pitch was “Vote for us or slavery will be reinstated in America”. At best, it shows the current Vice President is a buffoon and is not fit to serve President in the event that President Obama could not finish his term of office.

Of course, immediately after this consummate smear, a lot of people dismissively said, “Oh, it’s only Joe again.” Problem is, it’s always Joe. He’s a bumbling, offensive, shallow, undisciplined excuse for a vice-president. Do you think the media would have given Sarah Palin such a pass if she was Vice-President. I don’t think so.

Yet, compared to Biden, Sarah Palin was a miracle of articulation, achievement, dignity and poise. Joe — dumb folksy Joe — always got a free pass. The Washington crowd had grown inured to bumbling Joe. Not this time. Ryan’s competence spotlights Joe’s lack of the same quality.

Some of this election was supposed to have pivoted on Romney’s pick of Ryan. Now it might — after the “y’all in chains” comment last week — turn more on up-to-now-ignored Joe Biden. After all, what besides misadventure, a flow of clichés and gaffes, and sour race-based slurs, does Joe Biden bring to the Obama ticket?

There were even rumblings among Democrats that Biden should be replaced with Hillary Clinton in this run, but it’s too late for that salvation. Nor would Hillary, mortified once already by Obama in 2008, willingly submit to this deeper humiliation—being a replacement for Joe Biden would foul her resume to be President.

No, President Obama has to live with his VP, like a strange uncle at a large family outing. But I suspect after this week, the handlers will take over Joe, write his scripts, narrow his appearances and keep him away for good from African-American audiences.  And I’m sure these handlers will inform Joe which century he is living in.

Back to Ryan.

Although he is young enough to be Romney’s son, it is his ideas, not Romney’s, which thrill the conservative base. And if Republicans win, it will be Ryan’s policies which GOP partisans will demand the new administration push through Congress.

So when Romney introduced Ryan as “the next president of the United States,” a few weeks ago, it may not have been just an irrelevant mistake, caused by the excitement of the occasion. Perhaps in the grip of an unconscious fear of being overshadowed by his running mate, Romney may have committed a classic Freudian slip, a true testament of the clout that Ryan brings to his ticket.

Photo of Paul Ryan and Joe Biden from AP

Contact Erik Uliasz at euliasz@philly2philly.com

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