Note: The following is based on reading the transcript of the debate alone, nothing else. I did not watch the debate, I did not listen to any of the opinions on Twitter or in the press or from anyone else, I did no fact checking.
It seemed like a draw. That came about from the way they both approached it: less as a debate to draw blood, more as a chance to hammer home their talking points in front of tens of millions of voters.
The pattern: Martha Raddatz, the moderator, would ask a question, each would give a two-sentence half-answer and then start on the talking point that was closest to the question.
The only time it got interesting was when she asked them about religion and abortion. They are both practising Catholics but have very different positions on abortion. As it turns out, that comes less from their beliefs about abortion – they both think it is wrong – and more from how they think religious beliefs should affect their lawmaking. Biden sounded like my father, Ryan sounded more like me, so maybe it is a generational thing.
Although their performances seemed about equal, I did come away trusting Obama and Biden more and Romney and Ryan less. Meaning it strengthened what I already believed. I now believe more than ever that Romney and Ryan are only interested in the rich, while Obama and Biden will do their best to protect the middle-class.
Biden is helped by the fact that while in the Senate he was more like an ordinary middle-class person than almost any other senator. Ryan is hurt by the fact that he is a rich asshole.
Ryan is also hurt by his speech at the Republican convention, which destroyed my trust in anything that comes out of his mouth. Meaning that where he and Biden disagreed, I would suppose that Biden was probably closer to the truth.
Ryan likes to talk about credibility. He does not seem to know what it is.
On the question of Iran going nuclear, I disagreed with both of them. They think threatening Iran will make them give up building a bomb. I think it will just make them more determined than ever. If Biden or Ryan were serious about stopping a nuclear arms race in the Middle East they would denuclearize Israel. What makes Israel so special?
I laughed when Biden said “stuff” instead of the s-word. I do that too.
I do agree with Ryan that something has to be done about the budget, but trusting him and Romney to do it is letting the fox into the henhouse.
Ryan has some nerve talking about bipartisanship and wanting what is best for the country. Republicans in Congress these past four years seemed quite content to screw over the country to make Obama a one-term president. That is more than reason enough to vote a straight Democratic ticket in November.
Epilogue: After I wrote this I watched a bit of the debate on YouTube. Biden comes across much more forcefully on video than in print. Ryan comes off worse.