After President Obama went soft on the national debate stage, his second in command picked up the boss' slack in a big way. You see, just like The Real Housewives audience is crazy for real drama, America loves a big political smackdown on a national stage. Also, love or hate our show, you have to admit that verbal clashes is an area where we Housewives excel. So, it's clear why The Huffington Post would publish the second in a post-debate analysis series from a group known for fighting. With that in mind, here's my takeaway on the vice presidential debate.
Politics is a bloodsport, so get in your opponent's face and break their nose. Now, that's a debate! After a weak wonkfest last week, Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Congressman Paul Ryan traded uppercuts and right crosses, not light taps (you can almost hear the brakes tighten on the Romney momentum). Sure, Democrats wanted to see the VP show more of the Real Housewives' spirit and less of the friendly backslapping from last week's lovefest, but you can bet plenty of independents were also won over.
If you want to keep two men's egos in line, get a woman to do the job! There was no doubt about who the biggest winner was last night: Martha Raddatz (you go, girl!). She was the best moderator this side of Andy Cohen (is she free to star alongside Andy for a future RH reunion special???). The veteran ABC reporter did an outstanding job at keeping Biden and Ryan on point. From Iran to the economy and more, Raddatz smacked them back to use actual facts and actually accept responsibility for their past statements and actions. She was polite, but firm, and made Jim Lehrer's sleepy moderation last week look like even more of a performance downer. Her great job has me even more excited for the performance of another female moderator, CNN's Candy Crowley, at next week's presidential debate.
If you're bitching about your opponent's style, your substance was weak. GOP insiders called last night's debate a draw because Biden was too aggressive and interrupted the Wisconsin congressman. You know why they weren't talking about substance? Because they couldn't. Our vice president beat Eddie Munster with fact after fact and wouldn't let him get away with any of the "malarkey" that Romney laid out last week. (By the way, Joe, I love the Irish way you called a spade a spade!)
Paul Ryan is no Sarah Palin and Joe Biden was better off for it. As much as I love reality stars (it takes one to know one!), it was nice not to have one in this debate. While Joe ("Can I call ya Joe?"), gave Palin enough rope to verbally hang herself four years ago, it was great to see a wonk that Biden could whack with facts. This teaching assistant tried to lecture a professor, but saw why the other guy has tenure. With a smile on his face and knife in Ryan's ribs, Biden was all but saying, "Enough, Junior."
In politics, the private is public. Our show has proven that the most private moments also make the best TV moments. Four years ago, Biden talked about his personal family loss and won over a high percentage of female swing voters. Last night, Ryan spoke from the heart about how he doesn't see how a politician can separate his public life from his faith. But then he took it a step too far and our vice president took him down with it. When Ryan said he wants to use his religion to govern our choices on abortion -- well, let me just say that I'd like to take his beliefs and hit him where the good Lord split him. Religion has no business in government and strict constructionists should get that. Am I right, ladies??? And second, these egomaniacs are supposed to represent the people, not their personal faith. A politician has to separate the two. Biden made the point very clear and followed with a left-right combination that will win over both sides about how Ryan wanted to exclude abortions for women who'd been victims of rape or incest. What is best for America is not what the church advises. Get it straight!
Your counter-punch is often more important than the opening shot. If you watch our show, you'll know the importance of fighting back, and both sides did a great job here. Ryan held his own after taking a punch on Romney's writing off of 47 percent of Americans. Even Democrats have to tip their hat to the Congressman saying the gaffe-prone Biden should understand that "words don't always come out of your mouth the right way." Biden's response that, like Romney, "I always say what I mean" was just as stinging. The VP even had a shot that had to make Dan Quayle wince when he countered Ryan's comparison that JFK "lowered tax rates and increased growth." Biden's line, "Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy," played great with the crowd who saw the reference to the most famous VP debate line, which came in 1988 when Lloyd Bentsen scolded Quayle that he was "no Jack Kennedy."
Like a winning Real Housewife, Biden knows the power of television. The split screen showed off Biden's body language to comment on all of Paul Ryan's distortions (he earned his "Lyin' Ryan" nickname!). Conservatives may scoff at his laughs in the congressman's face or smirks when he heard things that were less than true, but his cutaways were effective and went right through to viewers at home who found themselves doubting Ryan's assertions.
The VP debate is still a sideshow to the main event. As much fun as this was, we all know the vice presidential debate is an appetizer to next week's entree in New York. It's doubtful that President Obama will be as aggressive as Biden, but if he can muster half of the Real Housewife-type moxie that his VP displayed, it will be a much tighter battle, this time. Expect a feistier fight that would make Bravo and our franchise proud.
The Real Housewives of Miami airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.
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