Debate should offer more than gaffes and laughs
The intense stakes of a presidential race predictably produce intense rhetoric. Thus, it was no surprise last week when a vice presidential nominee sympathized with the plight of “the middle class that’s been buried the last four years.”
What was a surprise about that remark at a Charlotte campaign rally came from Joe Biden, who has been vice president for nearly all of those same last four years.
The Republican presidential nominee quickly tweeted a bipartisan nod of sorts to the second part of the vice president’s observation:
“Agree with @JoeBiden, the middle class has been buried the last 4 years, which is why we need a change in November #CantAfford4More.”
Actually, in the ample reserves of Mr. Biden’s verbal blunders, that one was relatively minor.
Our favorite remains his 2008 campaign-rally admonition — “Stand up, Chuck, let ’em see ya!” — to a wheelchair-bound Missouri state senator.
It is somewhat disconcerting to have a vice president known for saying such goofy things with such regularity — a habit he developed long before reaching his current office.
But at least that reputation stirs hope for a few gaffe-driven laughs during tonight’s vice presidential debate in Danville, Ky.
And Republican nominee Paul Ryan might make a few unintentionally funny mistakes of his own. Though subsequent fact checks refuted initial fact-check charges that the Wisconsin congressman went on a fibbing spree in his Aug. 29 Republican Convention acceptance speech, he did vastly exaggerate a past personal physical feat a week earlier.
During a radio interview, Mr. Ryan said he had once run a “2 hour and 50-something” marathon. More than a week later, after Runners World documented that Rep. Ryan’s only completed marathon took him more than four hours, he tried this unconvincing spin: “It was 22 years ago. You forget sort of these things.”
But enough about what Mr. Ryan — and Mr. Biden — have said in the past, for good, ill or embarrassment.
Tonight, focus on what they say about the best course for America’s future.
And yes, focus on the grim reality that eight vice presidents have faced the stern challenge of a high-pressure promotion forced by the death of a president.
But along the informative way, also focus on the strong likelihood that Mr. Biden — and maybe even Mr. Ryan — to inject some unintentional comic relief into the serious business picking a president and vice president.