Well, it looks like Vice-President Biden spent much of his debate preparation time practicing that smile. It looked so fake that it made those of us watching uncomfortable. Politico and The Blaze collected a few of the tweets from the pundits:
Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin: "Biden's laughing is losing the debate- obnoxious."
TIME's Michael Scherer: "Not sure debate cameras have been light tested for Biden's teeth. Best to watch with sunglasses."
NBC's David Gregory: "Biden's smile is out of control."
CNN's Piers Morgan: "Joe, seriously, STOP SMIRKING. This is serious stuff. Be Vice-Presidential."
Washington Post's Chris Cillizza: "Ok. I have decided. I find the Biden smile slightly unsettling."
But his cavalier attitude towards the country's most dangerous foreign policy concerns was most unsettling.
Right out of the gate, moderator Martha Raddatz, asked about the situation in Libya . It was yet another chance for the Obama Administration - which ran pre-debate ads claiming that Congressman Ryan would be the one lying in this debate - to be truthful with the American people. But instead, the vice president couldn't run away from the question fast enough. He talked about Iraq and Afghanistan. He talked about Bin Laden. But on the administration's situation of the Libya attack, there was apparently not much to say.
Luckily, Raddatz, who I thought did a fair job, pressed Biden on the issue. "Why were people talking about protests? When people in the consulate first saw armed men attacking with guns, there were no protesters."
Biden: Because that was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment.
Bravo, Mr. Vice President. But didn't the White House finally come out about two seconds ago saying they knew it was a terrorist attack? Press Secretary Jay Carney just spent hours trying to convince the press that the president indeed called it a terrorist attack within 24 hours.
And to the fact that there is documented evidence that the embassy had asked for more security?
Biden: We weren't told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again.
Having started the debate this way, it was comical to hear Biden appealing to the American people several times during the debate as to who they would believe more. "Trust me," and "follow your instincts," were some of his phrases. Well of course, look at how great they've handled Libya.
Biden's cavalier approach to Iran was also revealing.
Biden: When my friend talks about missile material, they have to take this highly enriched uranium, get it from 20 percent up, then they have to be able to have something to put it in. There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. So all this bluster I keep hearing, all this loose talk, what are they talking about?
I see. So, Iran is not a real threat. And we shouldn't listen to those crazy people warning us - people like, say, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "Let's all calm down a little bit here," Biden said. Besides, he's friends with the prime minister. He calls him "Bibi!"
Again, the continued use of "Bibi" felt fake. Biden was trying way too hard, especially since the strained relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu has been well documented.
Congressman Ryan certainly noticed how hard the vice president was trying. At one point, he had to address him directly, since Biden kept interrupting him:
Ryan: Mr. Vice President, I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other.
That is how it felt. In trying to compensate for the presidential debate debacle, Biden overdid it on this one. It was as if he felt that if he said things forcefully, it would make them true.
Biden did his best with his use of Mitt Romney's "47%" line, trying to paint Romney and Ryan as out of step with everyday Americans. That prompted the funniest line of the night when Congressman Ryan responded:
Ryan: This is a man who gave 30 percent of his income to charity, more than the two of us combined. Mitt Romney's a good man. He cares about 100 percent of Americans in this country. And with respect to that quote, I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way.But the most impressive response came when Congressman Ryan talked about his faith and his pro-life convictions:
That issue prompted a short discussion on judges:
Ryan: I don't see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, about how to make sure that people have a chance in life.
Now, you want to ask basically why I'm pro-life? It's not simply because of my Catholic faith. That's a factor, of course, but it's also because of reason and science. You know, I think about 10 1/2 years ago, my wife Janna and I went to Mercy Hospital in Janesville where I was born for our seven-week ultrasound for our firstborn child, and we saw that heartbeat. Our little baby was in the shape of a bean, and to this day, we have nicknamed our firstborn child, Liza, "Bean."
Now, I believe that life begins at conception.
That's why - those are the reasons why I'm pro-life.
Now, I understand this is a difficult issue. And I respect people who don't agree with me on this. But the policy of a Romney Administration will be to oppose abortion with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.
What troubles me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. Look at what they're doing through "ObamaCare" with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They're infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals. Our church should not have to sue our federal government to maintain their religious - religious liberties.
And with respect to abortion, the Democratic Party used to say they want it to be safe, legal and rare. Now, they support it without restriction and with taxpayer funding, taxpayer funding in "ObamaCare," taxpayer funding with foreign aid. The vice president himself went to China and said that he sympathized or wouldn't second-guess their one-child policy of forced abortions and sterilizations. That, to me, is pretty extreme.
Well, I guess I'll end with a smile - a real one - since I totally agree with Biden on that. We must keep an eye on the Supreme Court .
Ryan: We don't think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people, through their elected representatives and reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process, should make this determination.
Biden: The court - the next president will get one or two Supreme Court nominees. That's how close Roe v. Wade is.
Just ask yourself: With Robert Bork being the chief adviser on the court for - for Mr. Romney, who do you think he's likely to appoint? Do you think he's likely to appoint someone like Scalia or someone else on the court far right, that would outlaw Planned - excuse me - outlaw abortion? I suspect that would happen.
I guarantee you that will not happen. We picked two people. We picked people who are open-minded. They've been good justices. So keep an eye on the Supreme Court.