During a jury trial, lawyers make opening statements. The same thing happens in debates. And based on some of the pre-debate signals, Joe Biden’s opening statement at tonight’s vice presidential debate will probably go something like this:
“Representative Ryan is gonna try to put on a little magic act here. He’s gonna try a little misdirection. He’ll astound you with stories of government waste, and dazzle you with official-sounding terms like austerity. He might even try to cut into a few politicians for you. He’ll have no evidence, mind you, none . . . but it will be entertaining.”
What makes me think that’s going to be the spin? It’s debate day, and the Obama campaign is already out with an ad saying: “Paul Ryan’s eloquent rhetoric can’t hide the harsh reality.”
In short, Paul Ryan’s “gonna try to put on a little magic act here.”
The fact that this sort of “jury tampering” is even necessary is bad news for Biden, of course. Attacking your opponent for being too eloquent — or too charismatic — is the last refuge of a losing campaign.
(This is a trend. After last week’s debate, Stephanie Cutter conceded that Romney won on “style points.”)
Here’s the problem. When your argument is, “Well, sure, the other side is eloquent and wins on style — but we win on the facts” — then you know you’re losing. It’s like saying to a friend, “Sure, you can date him, but he’s too good looking, too intelligent. You can never trust someone like that.”
How did that work out?
Four years later, it is now Obama who is trying to do the same thing to Ryan and Romney that McCain failed to do to him.
Sic transit gloria.