Wow. How long has it been since there was this much attention paid to the lowly vice presidential race?
Sure, there have been singular attractions. Four years ago, Sarah Palin electrified the Republican base before she became the object of derision from liberals and mainstream Americans became frightened of her. And before America came to know LBJ, his being plucked out of obscurity by John F. Kennedy made everybody shout, “What? That Texas bumpkin?”
But perhaps never before has there been so much buzz created by two vice presidential types at the same time, the current holder of the office and the person who wants to replace him.
By choosing House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as his running mate, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney showed a lot more boldness than most people had given him credit for.
Almost everyone agreed that it was a game-changing pick, but they didn’t agree on which way the game had changed. It further energized the GOP base, many conservatives said, and suddenly elevated the race to one of substance, which was bad news for President Obama and his less-than-stellar record. But it also left Republicans vulnerable to attacks on the idea that they wanted to “end Medicare as we know it” and throw Grandma off the cliff.
Perhaps not wanting to be left out, gaffe-prone Vice President Joe Biden outdid himself this week.
First, he told a mostly black audience that Romney and Ryan want to “put ya’ll back in chains,” a race-hustling figure of speech that drew howls of protest from the GOP and even made many Democrats squirm. Then, in a later speech, he told a Virginia crowd he was happy to be in North Carolina and said there was no reason American auto manufacturing shouldn’t dominate the 20th century.