Ryan’s Threshold

By A. G. Moore 10/15/2012

After the Biden/Ryan showdown, a disconcerting contradiction began to emerge in post-debate analyses. Ryan, it seemed, passed the essential “threshold” test: he displayed sufficient competence to be “a heartbeat away from the presidency”. In these same analyses, however, it was acknowledged that Ryan was flummoxed by Biden’s over-the-top debate shenanigans. Many in the mainstream media declared that Biden was rude; he mocked, interrupted, smirked. His lack of civility, it was suggested, unfairly threw Ryan off his game.

I wonder, what are these media analysts thinking? What threshold did Ryan pass? If he could not withstand a little derisive banter, if he could not stare down an overly broad grin or defend against the importuning of good ol’ Joe Biden, how would he fare in a contest with truly formidable opponents–like Vladimir Putin or Hu Jintao?

To her credit, Sarah Palin, who knew little about global or domestic affairs, never lost her cool. No matter how over her head she was or how ridiculous her responses may have been, she gamely plodded on.

And George W. Bush–no one ever accused him of being intellectually gifted. But during one of the debates with Al Gore, when the VP invaded Bush’s physical space, the presidential hopeful from Texas held his ground. No way was he going to let Gore’s body language or demeanor throw him off his game.

Many are the thresholds that must be crossed by a candidate who wishes to be a “heartbeat away from the presidency”. One of these surely is to have a backbone. Does Mr Ryan think that the leaders of the world will always observe Robert’s Rules when they negotiate?What will happen when they’re rude, mocking or derisive?

I’m astonished that Ryan gets a pass on the wuss factor. I personally know people, including my husband and my sister (neither of whom would think of running for national office), who would not have let Biden’s showmanship intimidate them one bit. My husband would have vanquished the theatrical Biden with a withering indifference. And my sister would have cut through his bluster with down-home mettle. Had Ryan responded to Biden’s antics with mature self-confidence, the sitting VP would have calmed down and engaged with his challenger in a more sober and decorous fashion.

As it was, the VP debate turned into a circus. Biden called the shots and Ryan ran around in circles hoping to avoid the sting of his whip.

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