Last night was the only vice presidential debate of the 2012 election cycle, and it was a doozy. Vice President Joe Biden brought the vitality and quick-thinking that many of us were disappointed to find lacking in the President during the first presidential debate. At the same time, Republican challenger Paul Ryan presented a confidence and strength at odds with his younger age.
But energy and engagement weren't the only major differences between last night and October third. ABC News' Chief Foreign Correspondent, Martha Raddatz gave an exemplary performance as moderator.
She was adroit at reining in both men when they spoke over each other or were reluctant to move on to a new topic, but at the same time, she gave them enough freedom to have a relatively free-flowing exchange.
As of this writing, there's a general consensus among progressive bloggers that Joe Biden was the clear winner of the evening, but personally I can't agree.
Being a liberal, and a progressive blogger myself, I was extremely pleased with Mr. Biden's performance, and proud to have voted for his ticket in 2008. However, despite a somewhat loose interpretation of the truth, and reluctance to give concrete answers to concrete questions, Congressman Ryan also turned in a solid performance.
The mainstream media has overwhelmingly called last night a draw, and it's not hard to see why. It was a night of affirmation, not persuasion, and not one likely to swing many votes one way or another. The only likely exception being the two men's vastly different take on the role of government in abortion policy, with Congressman Ryan affirming that
...the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortions...which may have had an influential effect on some voters.
It's tempting to rule the entire exercise irrelevant. Vice presidents are little remembered, and generally wield little influence during their tenure. But recent precedence aside, the vice presidency can serve as a potent launching pad for one's presidential aspirations, particularly for someone as young as Paul Ryan.
And while it would be unseemly to wish ill on a president, regardless of their party or politics, the fact is that the vice president of the United States is always one slip in the bathtub away from being "leader of the free world."
For the second debate in a row, queer/LGBT/GSRM issues were not addressed during the course of the evening, so to help remind us of the vast gulf between the two men on issues relevant to our community, Think Progress has put together a useful summary of their positions. It's definitely worth a look.
And of course, here are some other things you need to know today: