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At the Vice-Presidential Debate, on Health Care and Tax Reform, Biden Invented His Own Facts

At the Vice-Presidential Debate, on Health Care and Tax Reform, Biden Invented His Own Facts →

How do you debate a guy who makes everything up on the fly?

I’d like to discuss the substance of the debate on health care and tax reform, where Joe Biden told one whopper after another in an attempt to help President Obama regain lost campaign momentum.

I was arguing with the TV when VP Biden was making up these facts. The more you know about policy, the more of a buffoon the VP is.

  • Contra Biden, Senator Ron Wyden does still support the Wyden-Ryan Medicare reform plan.
  • Contra Biden, the CBO determined that Medicare wouldn't save any money by negotiating drug prices .
  • Contra Biden, Obamacare did cut $716 billion from Medicare and probably will cause 1 in 6 hospitals to go under and cause 15% of Medicare doctors to stop taking Medicare patients.
  • Contra Biden, 7.4 million seniors are expected to lose access to Medicare Advantage once the Obamacare changes are fully phased in, in 2014.

Thoughts on the VP Debate

Before the debate, I predicted that Congressman Ryan would wipe the floor with VP Biden. I was wrong. I'd forgotten how good/awful of a debater VP Biden is. He's good because he's always confident and never in doubt. He's awful because he completely makes stuff up and delivers the resulting manure with complete and utter sincerity. How do you fight that without falling into the trap of constantly fact checking your opponent rather than giving your own answers?

How about an example? Last night, they were asked about whether or not the United States should intervene in Syria (given the Libya intervention). And, if not, why not? VP Biden confidently stated that we absolutely should not get involved in Syria. Syria would be a tough intervention because it "is a different country, it is five times as large geographically, it has one fifth the population." Not true. Syria is 185,000 square kilometers, while Libya is 1.7 million square kilometers. Geographically, Libya is ten times larger than Syria. Rather than Syria having one fifth the population of Libya, it actually has 4 times the population that Libya does.

Or, how about VP Biden's confident assertions that we shouldn't worry about Iran's stockpile of fissile material because "they don't have a weapon to put it in"? What kind of argument is that? Building a nuclear weapon is trivial compared to what it takes to acquire fissile material. Pakistan's A.Q. Khan sold nuclear technology to multiple countries, including Iran. If Iran did have problems building a weapon, North Korea would be more than happy to share notes. If Iran doesn't have a weapon now, it's only because they like the plausible deniability of continuing to claim that all of their enrichment is for "energy generation".

In short, VP Biden looks impressive in a debate, unless you know all of the issues well enough to spot all of the times that he's free associating and losing contact with reality. On the appearance of substance, I'd have to rate the debate a tie. Both candidates appeared that they knew what they were talking about.

However, I think VP Biden flubbed horribly on the demeanor side of the debate. He may have forgotten that his job was to persuade undecided voters. As he listened to Congressman Ryan, he spent the entire evening laughing, making faces, or sighing. When he was speaking, VP Biden often sounded angry. He was strident and loud, often shouting, and interrupted Congressman Ryan frequently. It was one of the more unpleasant debates I've ever watched. VP Biden came across as a rude, angry, boor. I know that this fired up the Democrats who already plan to vote for the President and VP. I can't imagine that this will make his ticket attractive to undecided voters. Overall, I don't think this evening was a win for the Obama-Biden ticket.

Battle of the Giants

There's only one possible debate between a skeptic of the Bible and a Christian apologist I would care to hear more than Dr. Robert M. Price vs. Dr. William Lane Craig: a debate between the aforementioned Dr. Craig and Dr. Jeremy Beahan (unfortunately not yet the recipient of a Wikipedia page) of the always-excellent Reasonable Doubts podcast.

I'm still sadly unaware of such an event - but I'm more than content to learn today that my second-place dream match-up did in fact take place as far back as 1999 at Ohio State and can be downloaded here. And so utterly convinced am I of its entertainment value that as of this writing I've yet to listen to it for myself.

Which means I might as well throw out my prediction ere I enjoy: I think Dr. Price is the most Biblically literate and clear-thinking skeptic I've ever discovered, but I cringe to suspect Craig will acquit himself better, as his debating skills are legendarily sharp (thus my hope he'll one day debate Dr. Beahan, who I'd wager anything knows at least as much bout philosophy as Lane, if less about the Bible, but most importantly knows how to formally debate). Let's find out...

UPDATE: Yeah, I had it just about right. Craig stayed completely on-target and Price rambled, allowing himself easily to be diverted by whatever side-subject caught his interest. The former came to a debate, the latter merely to talk. What I find curious about this result is its (herein demonstrated) predictability; how bizarre that Craig's opponents, from Hitchens to Price, either never seem to realize he intends to engage them in an old-school, formal debate - in which points are systematically laid down, then attacked and defended - or simply refuse to put in the time to prepare for one with him (and preparing wouldn't even take them that long. This particular apologist rarely varies his case; listen to any one of his presentations and you've listened to them all). What's more, they don't seem to understand how ineffectual they look when they fail to address his points.

Ah, well. Maybe one day I'll get my debate with Dr. Beahan.