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October 15, 2012

The Crude Method of Debate Analysis Liberals Employ To Claim Biden "Won" His Debate With Ryan

I was thinking about this. Bill Maher whined that Republicans wouldn't "admit" Biden won the debate.

I had no idea what he was talking about. I thought Ryan won -- but not by as many points as some people expected him to. I did think he was less effective than I hoped he would be, and left a lot of chips on the table.

But I think he won.

So I was wondering how on earth liberals could imagine that Biden won.

There are two answers here, I think. The first is that they knew they had to claim, as a group and with one voice, that Biden destroyed Ryan, in order to try to push that particular interpretation. As Ryan said, they were all "under duress" to make up ground from the Romney demolition of Obama.

That's certainly true.

But I also think they're employing a crude metric to call the debate for Biden. Biden definitely "won" in one sense -- he contradicted everything Ryan said. Whether it was chuckling, sneering, interrupting, or just stating "That's a bunch of malarkey" to everything, Biden did contradict everything Ryan said.

I think what they think is this: Romney won the first debate because he contradicted everything Obama said. Hence, the winner of any debate is the one who contradicts the most. Biden contradicted the most, ergo he wins.

But... that's not the rule, of course. That's, what's the word?, stupid.

And that's not what Romney did. Romney didn't just contradict Obama -- he contradicted him and then offered a series of facts which supported his contradiction. In many exchanges, Obama would make an assertion -- just an assertion, unsupported, and just one -- and then Romney would make three supported claims undermining Obama's assertion.

Just to mention one particularly effective response by Romney: Obama contended that Dodd-Frank was just perfect and anyone calling for a repeal (plus replacement) of that bill must be some kind of crazyperson. Romney supported his position of repeal by noting first that the law made five banks "too big to fail" and guaranteed their survival, thus encouraging the exact same consequences-be-damned bets that came to a head in 2008.

Then he followed that up -- as an afterthought, no less -- by noting the law required banks to only grant mortgage loans to "qualified" borrower, but then failed to define what a "qualified" borrower might be. Thus freezing the banks from lending, paralyzing them by leveling a vague diktat upon them without letting them know, as a law should, what is lawful and what is not.

And that fact -- that banks are not lending -- is a major factor contributing to the moribund state of the economy.

Now-- is that merely a "contradiction"? Is that merely, as Python had it, "an automatic gainsaying of whatever the other man says"?

No, that is much more than that. That is a proper argument, with a premises, support for those premises, and conclusion. It is not merely the automatic gainsaying of whatever one's opponent says.

Which is... mostly what Biden did. Simply gainsaying whatever Ryan said, but, more often than not, not offering any particular reason for believing Biden's contradiction, apart from "Trust me" and "Trust your instincts" and so forth.

But to liberals like Maher, this is apparently an effective form of argumentation. I think they believe that for three reasons:

1. Because they have to, in order to explain to themselves how Biden "won." Bonus: It cheapens Romney's demolition of Obama by reducing it to a childish metric of "Romney contradicted Obama more so he won."

2. Because they are attempting to "get inside the minds" of voters, and they believe, as an article of religious faith, that they are smarter than the voters, and the voters are stupid, and therefore simple contradiction must appeal to such people, who are very stupid and think that an argument is won by he who says "No it isn't!" the most.

3. Because they themselves just want to hear Biden and Obama call Romney and Ryan "liars" and so actually are pretty cheap dates on this front. If you just contradict Ryan and Romney, who are by the way lying monsters, then that's awesome, that's "tough," and you win.

Romney did not win his debate because he contradicted Obama a lot. Obama contradicted Romney just as much, of course. Romney won the debate because he was in command, fluent with facts, clear and persuasive in explaining his underlying understanding of the economy, friendly, warm, intelligent, and... extremely presidential.

Was Biden any of those things?

Or was he a confused old man riding a broken-down horse into the Alzheimer's sunset of fading intellect (and his never burned that brightly to begin with)?

Everything That Guy Just Said Is Bullshit. A funny and effective gambit from My Cousin Vinnie. Does it work for Biden?

I would say not. For one thing, Vinnie is a fictional character in a comedy.

For another thing, charismatic people can get away with this sort of thing. They can even win on it. Because charisma is more persuasive than any argument.

Does Biden have that kind of charisma? He does, I think, appeal to people who frankly are not all that intelligent and, more importantly, whose lives are not exactly what they'd like them to be. To such people, government is a Rich Uncle Who Loans You Money When You Need It (which is constantly).

For that sort of person, Biden's vigorous defense of taking other people's money to give it to Democratic clients probably seemed pretty decent.

For anyone not a Democratic Client, however: It was all just a "bunch of stuff."

Sneaking in Gallup: Despite a couple of polls showing Romney's bump fading, Gallup has the race unchanged -- Romney 49, Obama 47.

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posted by Ace at 12:53 PM

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