Politico reports that Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) will play the part of Paul Ryan as Vice President Joe Biden prepares for his one and only debate with the Wisconsin Republican.
While Van Hollen – the politically savvy ranking Democrat on Ryan’s House Budget Committee – will no doubt do a fine job, I’m more than a bit surprised to learn that Biden even prepares for such things like a debate. The good ole’ Joe we’ve come to know – “They’ll put ya’ll back in chains!” – just doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who thinks much before he speaks.
My guess is that won’t change even with all the time and money spent on coaches, policy briefs, and poll-tested responses. Joe is who he is: an emotive liberal who shoots from the lip. His advantage, of course, is that everyone has incredibly low expectations for him; especially now that he’s going up against Paul Ryan, the universally acclaimed number one intellectual public official in the Republican Party.
If Ryan hammers Biden or makes him look out of touch, well, we expect that. But if Biden gets Ryan flustered or slides in a good line (even if it’s a non sequitur), then the media will declare him the upset winner.
My guess is that Ryan plays it straight and banks on Biden making an unforced error before confirming the widespread hunch that Biden is out of his depth. Biden’s history makes that a safe bet.