10/12/2012 01:37 pm ET Updated Dec 12, 2012

Defeating Yourself: How Joe Biden Snatched a Draw From the Jaws of Victory


It was a draw. Both fighters were left standing on their feet at the close of the 15th round and neither fighter succeeded to making the other bleed or fall to the canvas. I'm talking about last night's vice presidential debate between Veep Joe Biden and GOP nominee Paul Ryan.

Biden seemed to be on steroids and amphetamines, as if he were trying to overcompensate for last week's lackluster performance by his boss, President Obama, in his match-up against Mitt Romney. This led to Biden actually punching himself around the ring a few times.

To wit:

According to the RNC, Biden interrupted Ryan a total of 82 times, whereas Ryan only interrupted Biden on six occasions, and most of those were just to parry Biden's constant talking over Ryan's answers. Biden also interrupted the moderator quite a bit. Additionally, Biden's hyper-attenuated farcical facial expressions on the televised split-screen -- Biden literally mugging for the cameras -- did nothing to inure the incumbent Veep with undecided voters as it appeared clownish, undignified and disrespectful to both Ryan and to the gravity of the occasion -- and most significantly, seemed unpresidential, whereas Ryan came across not so much with searing passion but with quiet professionalism and politesse.

As we saw last week in the Romney-Obama debate, body language matters on television. Back in 1960 during the first Nixon-Kennedy debate, those listening on the radio thought the Nixon won and those watching on TV felt that Kennedy did owing to his positive body language and telegenics. Biden could have possibly won last night's debate on points but he sabotaged himself with his unbridled visual antics. Trying to make out that Ryan is some kind of joke backfired to a great degree owing to Ryan's overall seriousness and grasp of the issues.

The Veep also got some key facts wrong such as the issue over State Department requests for increased security in Libya prior to the 9/11/12 attack in Benghazi and saying that he didn't vote for the military incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan when in fact he did (on September 14, 2001, for Afghanistan and October 11, 2002, for Iraq).

Although sincere and heartfelt, Mr. Ryan's answer on the abortion issue probably didn't resonate with most Americans. Whether one is personally for or against abortion because of one's conscience or religious beliefs, it is the law of the land and repealing it on the federal level will only impel states to legalize it within their jurisdictions and those who would fail to do so would just drive the procedure underground, not eliminate it. Just as with the same-sex marriage issue, most moderate Americans would like to see the government stay out of their bedrooms and personal lives and confine its activities and endeavors to collective issues such as the economy, defense and foreign policy. How involvement in personal status issues benefits the GOP is beyond my imagination.

No presidential ticket is carried by the vice presidential candidates. Neither party last night damaged the chances of their respective standard-bearers but by the same token, it will be hard to determine whether either Mr. Biden or Mr. Ryan swayed enough undecided or independent voters to have brought many benefits to Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney. This makes next week's second presidential debate all the more important as we head into the campaign's final few weeks. One thing is clear from last night though -- the two sides offer diametrically opposite visions for America and Americans have as clear of a choice in this election as they've ever had.