Of all the breathless coverage that’s come in the wake of Thursday’s Thrill in the Ville—
from pugilistic metaphors out of the West Coast…
to a blustery bravado from the Midwest…
to the back-handed big-up from the East Coast
–no newspaper headline has heralded the only morning-after story I’ve been dying to read. Because after watching Vice President Joe Biden debate the Presumptive Nominee in Danville, Kentucky– I’m still trying to figure out how Amtrak Joe managed to stay on course even though Republicans deployed their most dastardly weapon of mass destruction on the veep to date.
I am speaking, of course, of Paul Ryan’s big, blue, bedroom eyes.
The closest thing this country has seen to a Jack Kennedy lookalike since… well… Jack Kennedy, Paul Ryan’s eyes are so enormous that his real-life features are actually more exaggerated than those of his caricature.
Couple those two big assets with a physique so ripped (if Ryan’s claims of his prowess at the P90X workout are to be believed) that the heroine of any Harlequin Romance novel could be forgiven for ripping the Wisconsin’s congressman’s bodice– and I’m really impressed that Biden was able to keep all those facts and figures straight in his head.
Far be it from me to guess the Top Ten things going through Ryan’s mind when Time Magazine snapped this picture of the yet-to-be-chosen candidate in 2011 (as have the brilliant writers at The Late Show),
but I can tell you my top ten thoughts in the opening minutes of the debate had very little to do with tax reform, medicaid, joblessness rates or either candidate’s position on timetables for US troops withdrawals from Afghanistan.
Though the command “Show me your guns!” kept reverberating in my brain. As did the question on the right to bare arms.
Smokin’ Joe, on the other hand, was having none of this crap.
When Ryan hit him with the “Who loves ya’, Baby?” gaze– that would have made the original bald-headed sex symbol himself, Telly Savalas, blush– Biden stayed on point.
Same deal when Ryan channeled Rodney King’s “Can we all just get along?” plea with his eyes.
And if I didn’t know any better, I would swear that Biden was a cold-hearted bastard for being totally immune to Ryan’s excellent version of puppy dog eyes.
Something tells me Seamus fixed that same doleful stare on his master, Mitt, seconds before the infamous family vacation of 1983.
“You’re gonna’ put me where, Bro?!” I imagine the Irish setter imploring– with those soulful brown eyes– as he and his crate were being strapped to the roof of the family car in preparation for lift-off.
Little did Romney know that his choice would one day be the rallying cry of the Bark for Obama set, but that’s what you get for messing with man’s best friend.
Whoooooooooo’s a good boy????!!!!!!
Meanwhile, back to that other little, blue-eyed devil..
Whether unleashing the earnest eyes (that could make even the most squeaky clean boyscout look like a thug in comparison); the Hollywood heartthrob eyes; the assassin’s cold-blooded glare; the benign, wide-eyed expressionless expression (that, until now, I’ve been more accustomed to seeing in the faces of dolls as opposed those of grown men); or the fixed focus of a cyborg– Ryan’s facility for slipping into and out of character with his eyes alone alternately mesmerized and freaked me out.
I even found myself wondering, “Do you want to debate him, or date him?” based on the way Ryan kept looking at Biden as if he were a first crush or long-lost love.
Unlike me, Biden saw right through all of the malarkey from the get-go, and made no bones about it.
Even the legendary sucking up for which Ryan was renown as a senior at Joseph A. Craig High School in Janesville, Wisconsin had no impact on Biden.
(That talent, incidentally, has shown no signs of abating as Ryan made sure to thank the Vice President’s son, Beau, for his military service in Afghanistan within seconds of answering the first question posed by moderator Martha Raddatz.)
Biden proved just as adept at avoiding any numerical rope-a-dopes as an economics wonk.
As the Wisconsin representative likes to remind us: mathematical possibilities abound– if we just try to see things his way.
But whether owing to slights of hands (does anybody understand how Romney & Ryan plan to free up $5 trillion in tax loopholes if elected?); an inability to master the concept of percentages (which could explain Ryan’s error when he claimed to maintain 6 to 8 percent body fat); or simple math anxiety (perfectly understandable, given his declaration of having run a marathon in “under three [hours], high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something.” When Runner’s World discovered his time was actually 4:01:25)– far too often, Ryan’s numbers simply have not added up.
“Not mathematically possible,” was how Biden put it when Ryan promised to “cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve [mortgage and health care deductions]… for middle-class taxpayers.“
And that was putting it mildly.
There is no delicate way of characterizing Ryan’s willingness to say one thing to a voter’s face, while doing another behind their back: as evidenced when he had the audacity to lecture Biden on the finer points of reaching across the aisle to pass legislation in Congress.
“You know,” Ryan began, “I understand you guys aren’t used to doing partisan deals [but] that’s how you get things done. You work with Congress.“
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
That Ryan would take it upon himself to school a 40-year veteran of public service– a man, incidentally, who was first elected to the Senate the year Ryan was born– on the finer points of coalition-building was bad enough. But for someone from the Party that rewrote the book on obstructionism to accuse their victim of such tactics was nothing short of audacious.
“That’s coming from a Republican Congress working bipartisanly, 7 percent rating?” Biden countered. “Come on!“
Unlike President Obama during his debate with Romney the week before last, Biden did not allow any untruths to go unchallenged. He stepped into the ring alert, present and obviously ready to do battle. And he kept swinging for 90 minutes.
I am no fan of debates and political-speak– which have a sleeping pill effect on me– but even I thought this event was worthy of Pay-Per-View.
Biden’s use of the cameras to address voters was also masterful. When challenging Ryan’s proposal to replace Medicare with a “voucher”, the VP looked directly at seniors and urged “…folks, follow your instincts.” He embarrassed Ryan when forcing him to own up to two letters he’d written to Biden, asking for stimulus money– in spite of Ryan’s railing against such relief efforts during the debate. And if Americans didn’t know what “a bunch of stuff” was going into the telecast, we have Biden to thank for giving us the skinny on what every Irishman knows is code for “a big, fat lie”– as was Ryan’s suggestions that President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a fractured relationship.
Ironically, insiders had reported that the younger half of the Republicans’ Omni-American ticket had been instructed to take it easy on his elder before the debate. Ryan was accused of being disrespectful to Biden on the campaign trail, and the debate was his chance to change a perception that might hurt him with older voters come Election Day.
And yet for all the absence of malice in those dreamy, cerulean eyes of his– I saw Candidate Ryan for exactly who he was when he lost his composure and said: “I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.“
Likewise, we got to see Biden’s true colors when countered, “But I always say what I mean,” without skipping a beat.
And when all is said and done– it’s campaign promises like Biden’s that make my heart skip a beat.