Incumbents too weak?

Last Thursday night, Americans everywhere tuned in to watch the only vice presidential debate of this campaign season. Incumbent Joe Biden faced off against the young and charismatic Paul Ryan in what promised to be an intense debate.

However, when the curtains closed and the final words had been spoken, the buzz was more about Biden’s behavior than the actual substance of the debate. The vice president was on the attack all night, cutting off Ryan, accusing him of lying, and at some points even openly laughing or smiling when Ryan stated something he believed to be untrue. Though entertaining, his antics certainly crossed the line of civility, and even though Biden “won” the debate, it was not by a whole lot. His rude demeanor won points for the opposing camp.

Joe Biden has always been a no-nonsense kind of guy. He’s rough around the edges; he tells it like it is and isn’t afraid who he offends. But on Thursday night, what may have otherwise been written off as “Joe being Joe” looked more like desperation from a campaign that is beginning to feel threatened by what they once perceived as a weak opponent. It is no secret that the president greatly underperformed in his first debate, and it seemed painfully obvious that Biden was going over the limit to make up for lost ground.

Biden’s performance in the debate is just another example of what has so far been a failed campaign by the incumbent team. Instead of concentrating on what Obama plans to do next for the nation, his campaign has focused on Romney’s shortcomings, trying to write him off as insignificant and corrupt. Between both campaign strategies, which are actually quite similar, this might be the most savage election season we have seen in a long time.

The strange thing about Biden’s approach to this debate is that, at least for the supporters of the President, it seemed to work. Many Democrats hailed Biden after the debate for his passion and felt reassured that this administration does have some fight in them. Old Joe also hit all of the right points, criticizing the Romney team for things like his “47 percent” comment, and his comment suggesting that we should let the auto industry “go bankrupt.” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley even said in an interview with ABC News that he felt many of Ryan’s comments deserved the laughter they drew from Biden.

I am a liberal, and a supporter of the President. Earlier this week I filled out my absentee ballot for the state of Connecticut, and I am proud to say that the first president I have ever voted for is Barack Obama. I believe he truly has the best interests of all Americans, and the country as a whole, in mind. However, if he and Joe Biden want more people to think like me, it is time for them to start taking this campaign seriously. Romney and Ryan have both had strong debate performances, and have proven they are not here to mess around. On the other side of things, Obama’s first performance was terribly lacking, and Biden, although putting forth a much stronger performance, came off as rude and condescending.

As I write this in preparation for what is now last night’s debate, I am hoping that the President will focus more on the issues than just attempting to cast aside Romney and tout his own achievements. While he has done some great things for this country, these debates are about what he will do next, not what he has already done. If both candidates stick to the issues, and their plans to tackle those issues instead of demonizing each other, President Obama will undoubtedly prove to the American people that he is a much better choice for the future of this nation.