After just watching the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, I want to give my initial thoughts on what I saw, from a libertarian perspective. I will leave it up to the media pundits and the opinion polls on who "won".
From a libertarian standpoint, I think it is safe to say that Biden sounded better on foreign policy and Ryan sounded better on domestic policy and economics. I am saying that just about their general statements and not about their actual records.
While Ryan was probably not as hawkish as we have seen candidates in Republican primary debates, he definitely came across as more pro war. Biden came across as the peace candidate, which is rather ironic considering that there were reports earlier in the day that U.S. troops are now in Turkey near the Syrian border.
While Obama has been horrible on foreign policy, it is scary to think that a Republican president, particularly someone like John McCain, could have been much worse. While Obama has continued Bush's wars (Iraq is not really over) and started new ones, he was at least sensible enough not to start any new major occupations like Bush did in Afghanistan and Iraq.
So with respect to this debate, Biden came across as the peace candidate, even though the record of the Obama administration is anything but peaceful.
As far as the economy, Ryan's rhetoric is more likely to appeal to free market thinkers. Unfortunately, Ryan's words are only that. In fact, there was one point in the debate where Biden actually mentioned that it was Ryan who supported two wars and a Medicare prescription drug benefit while running up the country's credit card.
This leads me to my last major observation. The moderator of this debate was horrendous. The questions were basically softballs. It took Biden to hint at the fact that Ryan had little in the way of specifics in cutting spending. Why was there not one question asking Ryan what programs he would specifically cut from the budget? All we got from Ryan is that he will work with Democrats on coming up with a plan. This is an absolute joke that we hear in every campaign and it never becomes reality in Washington DC. The only bipartisan plans are the ones to screw the American people and take away liberty.
It is unfortunate, and probably a ploy by the establishment, that Paul Ryan is sometimes referred to as a free market guy and a disciple of Ayn Rand. As I've written before, his record is one of big government. And judging by his debate performance, while he likes to talk about lower taxes and less spending, he has no specifics on what can be cut. (And of course he didn't mention the Federal Reserve at all.)
The military, Medicare, and Social Security make up the majority of the federal budget. If every other program were cut to zero, this still wouldn't be enough to balance the budget. Yet, Ryan says we can't cut the military at all and he says that no current retirees will be affected by his plans to revise Medicare. In other words, huge deficits will continue under a Romney/ Ryan administration.
In all, I was a little disappointed by the debate. I expected empty rhetoric out of both candidates and we got it. But I expected some better entertainment out of Biden. I guess his handlers made sure he didn't say anything too foolish.
If you detected any major differences in what was said, please don't be fooled. In substance, they are basically the same, just as Romney and Obama are basically the same. They all stand for the status quo of bigger government.