Martha Raddatz Wins The Vice Presidential Debate



NEW YORK TIMES:  Let me say a few words about the really astonishing person who appeared at the vice presidential debate on Thursday – the moderator. Martha Raddatz of ABC News didn’t ask puffy questions like Jim Lehrer did at the presidential debate. Or let the candidates get away with vague non-answers, as Jim Lehrer did. Ms. Raddatz acted like a working journalist instead of a television personality from her first question, on Ambassador Stevens’ death: “It was a pre-planned assault by heavily armed men,” she said. “Wasn’t this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Biden?” Later, she pressed Mr. Ryan. “Governor Romney, and you’re talking about this again tonight, talked about the weakness; talked about apologies from the Obama administration. Was that really appropriate right in the middle of the crisis?” “Mr. Ryan,” she said, “I want to ask you about — the Romney campaign talks a lot about no apologies. He has a book called ‘No Apologies.’ Should the U.S. have apologized for Americans burning Korans in Afghanistan? Should the U.S. apologize for U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban corpses?” Mr. Ryan’s response: “Oh, gosh, yes. Urinating on Taliban corpses?” Ms. Raddatz showed a consistent willingness to call the candidates on their “malarkey,” as the Vice President put it. When Mr. Ryan said he could cut taxes without reducing the deficit by eliminating loopholes, but didn’t actually mention which loopholes, she drew attention to his evasiveness: “No specifics, again.” MORE

SLATE: Martha Raddatz specializes in foreign policy, so it’s no surprise that the vice presidential debate tonight focused largely on hot spots abroad, even though that put Paul Ryan at a distinct disadvantage. Still, Raddatz did manage to work in a little time at the end of the debate to ask the perennial abortion question, sadly framing it as a matter of personal ethics instead of what it really is: a matter of legal rights regardless of your personal feelings or religious doctrine. […] The only remarkable thing about the exchange is that contraception is now such an important target for the anti-choicers that Ryan brought the subject up, even though Raddatz didn’t ask about it, pivoting quickly from abortion to talk about the Catholic Church’s issue with contraception: “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.” As with abortion, Ryan’s religion teaches that contraception is wrong, though, when pressed, he wasn’t as eager to suggest that what is taught in the pews should be enforced by the law. Instead, he spoke of “religious liberty,” by which he means giving the employer the right to deny an employee insurance benefits she has paid for because he thinks Jesus disapproves of sex for pleasure instead of procreation. MORE

TIME: If there was an emotional center of the debate, it came when Biden went on a tear about the middle class — about Mitt Romney’s 47%, about Ryan’s makers-and-takers formulation. “You’re talking about my mother and father,” he said. “You’re talking about soldiers fighting in Afghanistan!” The passion here was unique in this campaign: it was, without any question, real. Biden was truly offended by the current Republican “dependency” argument. He said Romney would have let the auto industry die, and Ryan responded, lamely, that Romney was “an auto guy” and then wandered into a treacly recitation of Romney’s beneficence after members of his church had suffered a car crash. Biden quickly acknowledged Romney’s personal rectitude but moved right on to the fact that he didn’t extend that humanity to the 1 million auto workers who would have lost their jobs if the industry had been allowed to fail. I suspect the debate was pretty much over at that point. MORE

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